Plaza de Colon's Statue of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, which is in Italy, in 1451. He was a famous explorer and adventurer who was responsible for the discovery of America and Puerto Rico. It was on his second voyage that Christopher Columbus landed on the island that he named San Juan Bautista, or St. John the Baptist, with a fleet of seventeen ships on 3 November 1493. Juan Ponce de Leon was with Christopher Columbus on this voyage and he saw the locals showering Columbus with gold nuggets. As a result of what he saw Ponce de Leon returned to the island fifteen years later to become the first Puerto Rican Governor after invading the island on 12 August 1508. The island was later renamed to Puerto Rico, meaning 'rich port', and Juan Ponce de Leon quickly went about enslaving the local inhabitants to mine for him. The islanders rebelled against Ponce de Leon and many fled Puerto Rico or took their own lives. Ponce de Leon was then forced to bring in African slaves as a cheap source of labor. Christopher Columbus merely discovered new worlds and did not plunder or exploit the people of Puerto Rico. This is why his memory is favorably honored with a statue.
Columbus Square, or Plaza de Colon, is a well known landmark in Puerto Rico. The plaza used to be known as St. James Square but it was renamed in 1893 as part of celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus first arrival on the island of Puerto Rico. The plaza was appropriately renamed in his honor. In the center of Columbus Square you will find a solid stone column on which stands a proud marble statue of the legendary maritime explorer Christopher Columbus. The right hand of the statue holds a flag while a globe rests in the palm of his left hand. The pedestal on which he stands is surrounded by beautiful bronze plates that depict the most important moments in the life of Christopher Columbus. Smaller statues made from brass can be found around the Christopher Columbus Statue. There are sixteen in total and these were imported from the city of Barcelona to the Plaza de Colon, to stand beside one of history’s most celebrated explorers. The Christopher Columbus Statue is an important landmark in Puerto Rico and also a significant Puerto Rican sight.