First of all, let us tell you that the Casa Colon was never the residence of Christopher Columbus: just in case the name of this building confuses you. And it wasn’t, among other things, because it was built several hundred years after the adventure of the three caravels, between 1881 and 1883. Columbus was already dead for a few centuries…
In those days, the city was becoming stronger thanks to foreign companies that, like the Rio Tinto Company Limited, had established themselves here to exploit the mines in the area. Those businessmen had big plans, and they thought that it was a good idea to build a luxury hotel to accommodate all the managers and influential people that were starting to pass through here. VIP people, as we would say nowadays.
There was then a lot of Englishmen and Germans linked to these companies in the capital, and that explains why the chief promoter of the Gran Hotel Colon was someone with a surname like Sundheim, far from being Andalusian. The architect who took charge of the project, on the other hand, was called Jose Perez Santamaria, and he developed a building with clean lines in which there were English, modernist and colonial influences, and which was equipped with the most luxurious and advanced facilities and the best furniture.
The magnificent work would also serve as the venue for the celebration of the fourth hundred anniversary of the Discovery of America, which was just around the corner and was going to bring to Huelva presidents, ministers and other distinguished people.
1892 arrived and the hotel with the name of the Genovese, Catalan, Mallorca or Albacete discoverer, as you might know, the issue is still unclear, had its moment of glory. However, after that year it ceased to be a hotel, changed its name to Casa Colon and passed into the hands of the Rio Tinto Company, which used it as corporate offices.
At the end of the twentieth century, shortly before another anniversary of the Columbian odyssey, the building became a municipal property and began to be used as an auditorium, exhibition hall and stage for other cultural activities. If you decide to visit it, do not forget to walk around its well-kept garden, while you imagine how many unknown species were brought here from the New World.
By the way, you must know that there are others Casa Colon. You will find one in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, refurbish in 1951 and which was previously part of the Governor’s house. Christopher Columbus went there asking for help for his epic trip.
And there is also the Casa Museo de Colon in Valladolid, where it is said the discoverer ended his days … But this is a story with loose ends because what seems more certain is that Christopher died in a convent that no longer exists. And in this house lived a family whose surname was also Columbus. Then history … You know … It seems that it mixed everything a bit with the result that in 1866 a carved medallion was placed in the building which reads: “Aquí murió Colon” “Columbus died here”.