Christopher Columbus’ Tomb: Visit with Kids

Christopher Columbus’ Tomb:

See it with the Kids

Tombs and headstones are full of symbols and Christopher Columbus’ tomb is no exception. The larger the tomb, the more room for symbols. Taking the time to think about the symbols and what they mean makes visiting tombs and memories meaningful and fun! Teach the kids how to use their super sleuth skills to solve the mystery behind the symbols. Read more about the symbolism on tombs like Christopher Columbus’ tomb here.

Common symbols on tombstones:

Angels: reminding us of heaven

Angel on tombstone

Books: reminding us of the story of each life lived

Hearts: reminding us of our love for the deceased

Ants: make us think of Christian hard work

Fox: represents cruelty

Lamb: represents innocence

Rose bud: represents a child younger than 12 years old

Rose, partly in bloom: represents a teenager

Rose in full bloom: represents a young adult

Christopher Columbus’ Tomb

Details and symbolism: 

Christopher Columbus is buried at the cathedral in Seville, Spain in a tomb with a large and elaborate decorative ‘tombstone’.

Four noblemen hold up his tomb,  each one symbolizing one of the 4 kingdoms that were joined to become Spain. Look carefully to determine which nobleman represents which kingdom

Christopher Columbus' tomb

Figuring out who is who is part of the fun!

Christopher Columbus’ tomb symbolism: Nobleman #1

OK – guy #1 has pomegranates on his robe. Since Granada means pomegranate we know this one represents Granada.


They were also the last kingdom to be conquered in the name of Catholicism and that is what the spear through the pomegranate means.

Christopher Columbus’ tomb symbolism: Nobleman #2

Guy #2 has chains on his robe. He represents the kingdom of Navarre. There are chains on the coat of arms also.


Christopher Columbus’ tomb symbolism: Nobleman #3

Guy #3 is my favorite. Bats on his crown! He represents Aragon. The stripes on the coat of arms on the front of his robe match the country’s coat of arms.

Christopher Columbus' tomb

But, what about the bats? Bats were also a part of the country’s earlier coats of arms. Some think it was originally supposed to be a winged dragon. King Ferdinand, who was married to the Queen Isabel that sent Columbus on his voyages, was King of Aragon.


Christopher Columbus’ tomb symbolism: Nobleman #4

Guy #4 has castles on his robe and crown. He represents the kingdom of Castile. Queen Isabel was Queen of Castile and she sent Christopher Columbus on his journey to America.


But that’s not all! They have decorations on the back of their robes. Discuss the symbolism. Admire the detail.


Even the underneath of the casket itself is decorated.


You can visit Christopher Columbus’ tomb at the Cathedral in Seville, Spain which is the world’s largest Gothic style cathedral in the world. Enjoy the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and the detailed tomb of Columbus.

Christopher Columbus’ tomb controversy: Are these really his bones?

Christopher Columbus’ bones did a lot of traveling after he died. He was buried in Spain after he died, but then his remains were sent to Santo Domingo. Next, when France gained part of Spain, his remains were thought too valuable to fall into French hands so he was unearthed and sent on to Havana.  Later, when Spain went to war with the US, the worried Spainards sent his remains back to Spain so they wouldn’t fall to the US.

That sounds pretty clear cut, right? Why the argument about where his bones are resting? In 1877, workers in the Santo Domingo cathedral in Havana, found a box labeled ” Illustrious and distinguished male, Cristopher Columbus” which included a set of human bones. Naturally they assumed the wrong set of bones had been sent back to Spain earlier during the war and that these must be the real bones. For years Havana and Seville have argued over who REALLY had the bones of Columbus.

But….enter science to end the debate. In 2006 DNA test results showed that the bones in Seville are really the bones of Columbus. Those in charge of the bones in Havana will not allow testing to be done on their bones. So….the winner is? Seville!  Read more about the DNA testing for Christopher Columbus’ bones and DNA.


Click here to see the video we made while at the cathedral.

Happy Travels!

Natalie, The Educational Tourist




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13 Responses

  1. Kristi Hynes says:

    I have to go there! It is so amazing to me that we have DNA testing that confirms he is really buried there! So interesting!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      It is a fascinating cathedral, too – the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. They had to do DNA testing because he was originally buried in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. Later he was moved to Havana, Cuba, and finally to this spot in Seville. This guy has done a lot of traveling even after he died!

  2. Lauren says:

    Wow interesting. You definitely learn something new everyday!

  3. Long Nguyen says:

    Thanks for the explanation. And you might know if you visit Vietnam, you will see many bats in the doors or home decoration of the ancient houses. They stand for fortune !

  4. How interesting! I love that they confirmed it was really him through DNA. Definitely have to make it to Seville to see this in person!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Yes, that is really important because his body traveled around after death almost as much as he did when he was alive! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Super interesting, never been there, but now I want to

  6. dstexan says:

    Very interesting breakdown of the four kingdoms and associated symbolism! While I will be in Spain soon, unfortunately we won’t have time for Seville….Next time! And when I do make it, I will know what I am looking at!

  1. August 28, 2017

    […] Christopher Columbus – See His Tomb in Seville […]

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