Columbus and Atlantis

From Isla Cristina I cycled to Huelva, totalling 45 kilometres, and a few hills that put more load on my knees than I had experienced in the last few months. The knees are still okay…

Huelva is not the most exciting city of Spain, but it has a few minor sights and I happen to enjoy exploring minor sights. After I checked in in the Albergue Inturjoven (a bit expensive, but it comes with a nice breakfast), I walked north to the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Cinta. This is the place where Christopher Columbus allegedly prayed after he had discovered America. The church was on a hilltop and it was quite beautiful as you can see on this photograph:

Church in Huelva

Church in Huelva

After enjoying the tranquil atmosphere and the cool breeze, I walked back through the park and down to the city centre, where I paid a visit to the Museum. Here I perused some interesting artifacts that some believe might be from mythical Atlantis. Plato famously situated Atlantis on the other side of the Pillars of Hercules (hence the ‘Atlantic’ Ocean) and mentioned that it vanished in a short time off the face of the earth. Some scientists (??) believe it was located in what is now the Donana National Park, not far from Huelva, which itself might be identified with Tartessos, a city that could have traded with Atlantis. The low-lying swamp would then be all what was left from a civilisation being deluged by a tsunami, the newly favourite natural disaster of pseudo-scientists.
It is all a lot of conjecture and as Plato said: Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.

The following day I got on my bicycle to see the Lugares Colombinos, a few villages on the other side of the Rio Tinto that are connected with Columbus. First I visited the La Rábida monastery where Columbus had conversed with the monks for I know not exactly what reason. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find out anything more, because it was closed for the siësta, that most annoying of Spanish institutions…. After this I pedalled on to Palos de la Frontera where most of Columbus’ sailors came from. This village also provided the famous explorer with two small caravels that were totally inadequate for crossing oceans of unknown size…

Palos appeared to be an affluent village with grand mansions and little in the way of signs to guide visitors to its famous heritage. When I asked a man in a bakery he apologised for the lack of historical buildings and offered the explanation that rich people don’t want to live in old houses, which I thought a creditable proposition.

It was astonishing to learn that most of the men that accompanied Columbus on his first voyage to America, all came from this tiny village on the banks of the Rio Tinto….

The fontanilla, or the public fountain where Columbus drew fresh water for his voyage.

The fontanilla, or the public fountain where Columbus drew fresh water for his voyage.

Today the people of Palos de la Frontera have shifted their business to the cultivation of strawberries, which is regarded as more profitable than discovering new continents.

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