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Placa del Portal de la Pan

Monumento a Colón

Columbus Monument

Christopher Columbus
(prob. Cogoleto, Republic of Genua, c. 1451 - Valladolid 1506)
Italian explorer, who in Spanish service completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of America (see Background Information)
Rafael Atché

Barcelona /  Monumento a Colón   Barcelona /  Monumento a Colón


The following description is based on my own observations and photos made by my brother René, the Spanish descriptions on Barcelona's Art Públic website (this is very complete, but the useful comments are only in the Spanish language site) and the one given by Ponce de Léon in 1893, but corrected and emended in several places. In this description we start at the statue on the top and end with the base structure, and work counterclockwise around, starting at the SE side (the harbour side).
The monument can be divided into five parts:
  1. Statue.
  2. Column.
  3. Pedestal.
  4. Plinth.
  5. Base.

The height of the whole monument from the level of the square to the top of the statue, is 47.10 meter.

1. The statue and its base (Rafael Atché and Francisco Pastor)
The 7.2 m high statue of Columbus by Rafael Atché stands on a round socle, on which is inscribed the word, "TIERRA,". It shows him at the moment of seeing land in the far distance, pointing to it with the right hand and holding in the left a chart or parchment. He is represented as simply but richly attired as Admiral of the Indies in court dress, and exactly in accordance with the fashion of his times. His uncovered head is of the Jovian type, softened, with long hair flowing over the shoulders.
The statue is of bronze and was originally guilded. It was cast by Francesc Vidal y Compañía in Barcelona.
It stands on a half sphere, on which a part of the zodiac is represented. This hemisphere is on top of the crown of Catalonia. Crown and hemisphere are the work of Francisco Pastor. The crown is a balcony to which visitors are carried by an elevator which runs in the column. Below the crown is the coat of arms granted to the Columbus by the Catholic Kings. This coat of arm is made of gilded iron and sculpted by Lluis Ferreri.

2. The column and capital (Leoncio Serra, Lluis Ferreri, and Rossend Nobas)
The 40 m high column is made of cast iron, which weighs 32 tons without the capital and was cast by Alejandro Wohlguemuth in Barcelona. The firm signed the column in the viewing balcony (see below) and at the foot:


The capital shows allegories of the four continents Europe, Asia, Africa, and America doing homage to Columbus (all figures are identical). The design of these bronze allegories is by Leoncio Serra. Below the capital is a red strip with twice the text "GLORIA COLON".
At about one-third of the height of the column is a large medallion with the words, "BARCELONA A COLON."

3. Pedestal
The pedestal is in the form of a cross inserted in an octagon.

Fames, Ship's bows, Griffins and Eagles
At the top of the arms of the cross are allegorical representations with a ship's bow, flanked by griffins with the Barcelona coat-of-arms. Behind and above the bow are two eagles with a sphere in between. On the sphere stands a Fame. They are the work of Francesc Font (who made the first study) and Rossend Nobas, who modelled the statues.

On the sides of the arms of the cross there are eight large bronze medallions representing eight persons with a relation to Columbus:

  1. Martin Alonso Pinzón, inscribed MARTIN PINZON, by Rossend Nobas.
  2. Vicente Yañez Pinzón, inscribed VICENTE PINZON, by Josep Llimona.
  3. Ferdinand V, inscribed FERNANDO V, by Francesc Pagès.
  4. Isabella I, inscribed ISABEL I, by Antoni Vilanova.
  5. Fray Juan Pérez, inscribed FY JUAN PEREZ, by Eduard B. Alentorn.
  6. Fray Antonio de Marchena, inscribed FY ANTONIO DE MARCHENA, by Pere Carbonell.
  7. Andrés de Cabrera, Marqués de Moya, inscribed MARQUES DE MOYA, by Manuel Fuxà.
  8. Beatriz Fernández de Bobadilla (Bovadilla), Marquesa de Moya, inscribed MARQUESA DE MOYA, by Josep Carcassó.

The models for these medallions are made by the sculptors mentioned, they were executed by Francisco Pastor.

Martin Alonso Pinzón

Vicente Yañez Pinzón

Ferdinand V

Isabella I

Juan Pérez

Antonio de Marchena

Andrés de Cabrera

Beatriz de Bobadilla
The present medallions are reconstructions made in 1929. They are made of iron and cast by Armet i Solà in Barcelona, who signed each of the medallions: M. SOLÀ. GALV. 1888-1929.

Characters of the Discovery
In front of the receding sides stand four groups:

  1. Jaume Ferrer de Blanes with a page supporting a globe, by Francesc Pagès.
  2. Luis de Santángel Bessant, designed by Josep Gamot and executed by Giovanni Passani. Ponce de Léon writes that the statue shows Santángel, accompanied by a page to whom he hands a casket.
  3. Captain Pedro Bertran i de Margarit triumphing over an Indian, by Eduard Batista Alentorn.
  4. Fray Bernat de Boïl preaching to an Indian kneeling before him, by Manuel Fuxà.

Jaume Ferrer de Blanes

Luis de Santángel

Pedro de Margarit

Fray Bernat de Boïl
The present statues are reconstructions made in 1965.

Allegories of the Spanish kingdoms
In the abutting sides of the cross are four seated statues of Monóvar stone representing the Spanish kingdoms. They are all reconstructions by Josep Miret from 1965:

  1. Catalonia by Pere Carbonell, signed p. carbonell.
  2. Léon by Rafael Arché.
  3. Aragon initially assigned to Josep Gamot and frequently attributed to him, but in fact a creation by Giovanni Passani, to whom Gamot passed the work.*
  4. Castille, by Josep Carcassó.*
* According to the biography of Passani in the Art Públic website. At the individual descriptions, Aragón is attributed to Carcassó and Castille to Gamot.





4. Plinth
The plinth has the form of a truncated cone. It is about 4 meter high by 18 meter in diameter at the foot. It is built of enormous ashlers from the quarries of Monjuich.

Reliefs and Coats-of-arms
On the plinth are eight bronze bas-reliefs (each of c. 3.30 x 1 m) depicting Columbus' principal feats.
Alternating with the high-reliefs are the coats of arms of the different towns and regions related to the relief to the right of it. These coats-of-arms, in limestone and 1.6 x 1.25 m large, are the work of the sculptor Lluis Ferreri.

  1. Christopher Columbus and his son asking for bread and water at the gate of the Monastery of Santa María de la Rábida, by Josep Tenas, cast by Tanagra. M. Gimeno (Blanes).
    Signed: (bottom left) j. tenas | mcmxxix and (bottom right) fundiciòn «tanagra» | m. gimeno blanes.
    Coat-of-arms: Barcelona (belongs to relief no. 8).

  2. Columbus before the brothers of the Monastery of Santa María explaining his project, sculptor unknown.
    Coat-of-arms: Huelva.

  3. Introduction of Columbus to the King and Queen in Córdoba, by Manuel Fuxà.
    Signed: (top right) M. Fuxa and (bottom left) g. bechini - fvndidor | barcelona.
    Coat-of-arms: Córdoba.

  4. Columbus before the council gathering in the Monastery of San Esteban in Salamanca, by Pere Carbonell, cast by Gabriel Bechini (Barcelona).
    Signed: (bottom left) g. bechini - fvndidor | barcelona.
    Columbus displays a chart in an unsuccessful endeavor to convince the Council appointed by King Ferdinand to support his theory of a new route to India.
    Coat-of-arms: Salamanca.

  5. Meeting of Columbus and the King and Queen in Santa Fé, sculptor unknown.
    Coat-of-arms: Santa Fé.

  6. Embarkment of Columbus in the port of Palos on 3 August 1492, by Manuel Fuxà.
    Signed: (top right) M. Fuxa and (bottom left) g. bechini - fvndidor | barcelona.
    Coat-of-arms: Palos.

  7. Columbus takes possession of the New World, sculptor unknown.
    Coat-of-arms: Puerto Rico.

  8. Columbus for the King and Queen in Barcelona after his return, by Pere Carbonell, cast by Gabriel Bechini (Barcelona).
    Signed (bottom right) P. Carbonell and (bottom left) g. bechini - fvndidor | barcelona.
    Coat-of-arms: Cuba (second coat-of-arms belonging to no. 7, the coat-of-arms of Barcelona is to the right of this relief, see no. 1).
The present medallions are reconstructions made in 1929. The originals were sculpted by Josep Llimona and Antoni Vilanova, the reconstructions by Pere Carbonell, Manuel Fuxà, and Josep Tenas.




Santa Fé


Puerto Rico



5. Base
The base is a circular structure (20 meter in diameter), built of freestone; it is about 1.2 meter above the level of the aquare. it is broken by four staircases of 6 meter wide, each flanked by two bronze lions, those on the NW and SE side couchant, those on the SW and NE side standing. These lions were sculpted by Agapit Vallmitjana, and cast by Wohlguemut. Each lion has the signature:

a. wohlguemuth,
ingeniero constructor.


A bronze plaque on the NW side (Ramblas-side), with the coat of arms of Barcelona:


Inside the pedestal, behind the ticket office:

el marqués de comillas
d. antonio fages y ferrer
d. josé canela y reventós
d. jose mª serra
el marqués de palmerola
d. joaquin curri
d. juan martinez yllescas
d. pedro casas
d. francisco travilla
d. manuel feliu y coma
d. juan de maza
d. esteban amengual
d. antonio michel
d. pedro bosch y labrús
d. juan coll y pujol
d. vicente de romero
d. francisco gumá y ferran
el marqués de camps
d. rómulo moragas y oroz
d. evaristo arnús
d. claudio lopez y brú
d. pedro de sotolongo
d. juan martorell
d. francisco la gasca
d. rafael de feduchi
d. josé juan cabot
d. domingo sert
d. alberto faura
d. casimiro cusachs
d. manuel porcar
d, francisco benet y colom
d. benigno de salas
d. evaristo de casariego
d. ramon soriano
d. eduardo maluquer
d. julio valdés
d. gabriel lluch
d. mariano fuster
d. juan de florez
d. c. buigas monravá proyectó y dirigió la obra.
The constitutional city council of Barcelona on 10th of May
of 1881 decided the erection this monument trusting
its accomplishment to the executive central commission composed of
Don Francisco de P. Rius y Taulet, president,
Don Jose Amell, treasurer, Don Carlos Pirozzini, secretary, members

(39 names)

Don G. Buigas Monravá projected and directed the work

Inside the pedestal, just opposite the entrance:

a los xxvi dias del mes de setiembre de mdccclxxxvii año viii
del reinado de d. alfonso xii colocose solemnemente la pri-
mera piedra de este monumento, hallandose presentes las
autoridades superiores y una comisión de la municipalidad
de génova.
el dia i. de junio de mdccclxxxviii. inauguró este monumento
s.m. la reina regente da maria cristina, hallandose represen-
tados en dicho acto s.m. el rey de italia d. humberto i, el pre-
sidente de los estados unidos de américa grover cleveland
y el municipio de la ilustre ciudad de génova
On the 26th day of the month of September of 1882, the 8th year
of the reign of Don Alfonso XII solemnly the first
stone of this monument was laid in presency of the
superior authorities and a commission of the municipality
of Genoa.
On the 1st day of june of 1888 was this monument inaugurated
by Her Majesty the Queen-regent Doña Maria Cristina, in presency
of His Majesty the King of Italy Don Humberto I, the
president of the United States of America Grover Cleveland
and the municipality of the illustrious city of Genoa

On the viewing balcony are two plaquettes mounted on the column:

a. wohlguemuth
ingeniero constructor
en barcelona,
esta columna en 8 trozos
basa cuyo peso es— 32000 kos.
1er trozo de fuste— 26000 "
2º "        —— 25000 "
3º "        —— 24000 "
4º "        —— 24000 "
capitel        —— 30000 "
templete        —— 14000 "
esfera y zócalo— 16000 "
adornos de bronce— 14000 "
peso total        —— 205000 kos.
empezada en mayo 1887
concluida en marzo 1888
A. Wolguemuth,
construction engineer
in Barcelona,
this column in 8 pieces.
The weight of the base is— 32000 kg
the first piece— 26000 "
the second "        —— 25000 "
the third "        —— 24000 "
the fourth "        —— 24000 "
the capitol        —— 30000 "
the templete        —— 14000 "
the sphere and the socle— 16000 "
the bronze adornments— 14000 "
The total weight        —— 205000 kg
Begun in May 1887,
Finished in March 1888).

The second plaquette on the column in the balcony gives information on the latest restauration (with text in Catalan, whereas all other texts are in Spanish:

reforç estructural del
monument a colon
iniciat: 5.6.82
finalitzat: 16.7.84
drs. arquitectes: carles buxadé
josep m. casanovas
joan margarit
aparellador: joan bosch
realització: sapic
drs. enginyers
industrials: francesc artús
jeroni villanueva
de mines: lluis casafont

Finally, there is a plaquette just below the Columbus coat-of-arms on the Ramblas-side:

restauracion del monument
a cristobal colon
iniciat 10.4.82
finalitzat: 12.8.82

(follow dates and names,
but even with a 600 mm lens the text is unreadable)


The Columbus Monument is located on the Plaça del Portal de la Pau. It was built in 1888 for the Universal Exhibition and commemorates the discovery of America. A lift inside the column takes visitors up to the viewing gallery at ca. 60 meter above the ground.

In 1881, the Barcelona City Council appointed a committee, chaired by the Mayor Francesc Ruis i Taulet, responsible for financing and building the monument. Later, the architect Gaietà Buigas won the second municipal competition for projects for the execution of the monument, following an initial contest with no winners. The work combines stone, iron and bronze.
Barcelona is the place where the Catholic Kings received Columbus on his return from his first voyage, but until 1856 nobody had ever thought of erecting a memorial to him there. In 1856 a rich citizen of the town, Antoni Fages i Ferrer, an enthusiastic admirer of Columbus, proposed to the city council the erection of a Columbus memorial, to be entirely the work of Catalonian artists. Because of political troubles very little attention was paid to his project. At last, in 1872, he found an enthusiastic supporter in the mayor of the city, Francesc Rius i Taulet. After his re-election in 1881, Fagas urged Rius to take the project in hand. The "Comisión Central Ejecutiva del Monumento á Cristobal Colon" was formed with Rius as president (see the inscription) and to open a public subscription for the expenses. The sum of $200,000 was required and the greater part of it was raised in four years; the deficit, $24,000, was covered by the Provincial Deputation of Barcelona, which contributed $14,000, and by the Municipality of the same city, which donated $10,000.
Spanish artists exclusively, were invited to compete. Twenty-eight artists presented their designs and reports and the first prize was awarded to Gaietà Buigas i Monravà, a Catalonian architect, who was charged with the direction of the work. Buigas called to his aid a number of Catalonlan artists, and apportioned the different parts of the work among them.
The corner-stone was laid on 28 September 1882. Six years later the work was completed and was dedicated on 1 June 1888.
The monument is entirely Spanish; it was raised with Spanish money exclusively, to such a degree, that the President of the United States and the King of ltaly, having expressed a desire to take part in the subscription, their offers were politely declined. The iron, steel, bronze, stone and lime employed in its construction are all Spanish, and the conception, direction and handiwork of every one of its partsis not only all Spanish, but exclusively Catalonian.

Ponce de Léon commented in 1893: "Undoubtedly, Barcelona has a right to boast of having erected in honor of the great Admiral, the most beautiful, noble, rich and artistic of all the memorials yet raised by human-hands in memory of Columbus, as those of Genoa, Madrid, Mexico and New York, cannot for a moment bear comparison with that of the capital of the Principality of Catalonia."


Architect: Gaietà Buigas i Monravà (Cayetano Buigas Monrabá)
Eduard B. Alentorn (Pérez, Margarit)
Rafael Atché Farré (Columbus, Léon)
Pere Carbonell i Huguet (Catalonia, Marchena, 4th & 8th relief)
Josep Carcassó i Font (Aragón, Santángel, Marquesa de Moya)
Lluis Ferreri (coats-of-arms)
Francesc Font (Fames)
Manuel Fuxà i Leal (Marqués de Moya, Boïl, 3rd & 6th relief)
Josep Gamot i Llúria (Castille)
Josep Llimona i Bruguera (V. Pinzón, original reliefs)
Rossend Nobas i Ballbé (Fames, M. Pinzón)
Francesc Pagès i Serratosa (Ferdinand V, Blanes)
Giovanni Passani (Aragón, Santángel)
Francisco Pastor (crown & hemisphere, medaillons)
Leoncio Serra (four continents)
Josep Tenas i Alivés (1st relief)
Agapit Vallmitjana i Abarca (8 lions)
Antoni Vilanova i March (Isabella I, original reliefs)


In the Maritime Museum of Barcelona (nearby the statue) is a small model of the statue. A 1923 copy in mahogany wood is on the top of the faç of the building Les Amériques in L'Arboç. A copy of the monument (statue and column on the simplified pedestal without the additional statues and reliefs) is in the Spanish village in Isobe (Japan), and a miniature version of the complete monument in the Brussels theme-park Mini-Europe.


A relief showing this monument is on the Monument a Rius i Taulet in Barcelona.

This monument on postcards

Click here for the postcard(s) and enlargement(s)


Sources & Information


  • Boïl, Bernat de
  • Cabrera, Andrés de
  • Coat of arms
  • Columbus, Christopher
  • Commemorative Needle Column or Obelisk
  • Ferdinand V (King of Aragon)
  • Isabella I, Queen
  • Marchena, Fray Antonio de
  • Margarit, Pedro Bertran i de
  • Pérez, Juan
  • Pinzón, Martin Alonso
  • Pinzón, Vicente Yañez
  • Santángel Bessant, Luis de
  • Statue (Columbus)
  • Statue (Columbus)
  • Statue (Columbus)
  • Locatie (N 41°22'32" - E 2°10'40") (Satellite view: Google Maps)

    Item Code: escy002; Photograph: 16 May 2006  / updated: 27 January 2007
    Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
    If you want to use photos, please contact us via the contact form (in Dutch, English or German).
    © Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt

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