In 1888, just in time for the Universal Exposition of Barcelona, a large monument was erected at the bottom of La Rambla, which has become one of the most important icons of the city. This is the Mirador de Colom, the statue of Christopher Columbus, standing proudly and pointing towards the port, where he ended his journey upon his return from the Americas.

He is not in fact pointing towards the New World he discovered, as many people think. Although Columbus was thought to be from Genoa in Italy, he served under the Spanish Catholic monarchs King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I, and presented his findings to them in Barcelona when he returned. Yet, this is just a theory; some historians in fact believe that Columbus, or Colom as he is called in Catalonia, could actually be Catalan, as opposed to Italian. Whichever you believe, Columbus has become an important symbol of the city of Barcelona.

60 metres, 233,000 kilogrammes

In 1881, Barcelona City Council agreed to erect the monument as a tribute to Columbus and held a competition to decide who would design the column. The winning design was by the architect Gaietà Buhigas, while the statue itself was created by the sculptor Rafael Atché.

It took nearly a year to cast the iron column and a further six years to complete the entire monument, which weighs a total of 233,000 kilogrammes and measures 60 metres from the base to the top. This makes it the tallest monument in the city. The statue itself measures 7.7 metres high and 2.5 metres wide, which makes it the biggest Columbus statue in the world.

The finished monument has three parts: a circular base decorated with eight lion statues; the bottom part of the column, which is adorned with statues of people and medallions; and the top, which features the shield of the city and a crown, representing the crown of Aragon.

Turisme de Barcelona | Wine tasting in a Barcelona monument, Discover Southern Europe

Unique views

Tourists may be surprised to find out that you can actually go down inside the base of the monument, and even ride a lift to the top. The lift stops just under the statue and arrives at a small circular platform, offering some of the best views in the whole city. Up here, it’s both cosy and intimate. The first thing you’ll notice is the view of the city’s famous La Rambla, winding its way up to Plaça Catalunya. “It’s one of the most unique views of the celebrated boulevard that you’ll see in the whole city,” explains commercial sales manager for Turisme de Barcelona, Gianluca Camaggio.

To the north lies the Gothic Quarter, where you’ll spot the Cathedral and the Church of Santa Maria del Mar. Further up, you’ll see Gaudí’s famous Sagrada Família, and east towards the coast, you’ll see the old harbour and marina filled with yachts. To the south stands Montjuïc Hill with its Olympic stadium and old castle, and finally to the west is Barcelona’s green lung – the Collserola Natural Park.

Cavas, reds and whites

Upon descent, there are other things you can explore inside the monument, from a souvenir shop selling quality local, Catalan crafts, to a wine cellar. It may be an unusual place for a spot of wine tasting, but in fact this cosy little bar has a great selection of quality wines from across Catalonia, from the Penedès to Empordà. “The room actually feels like an authentic cellar with low ceilings and the original old stone work dating from 1888,” continues Camaggio. Here, you’ll get the chance to sample sparkling cavas, fruity whites and bold reds. Not only will you get the chance to try different wines, but you’ll also be able to buy them to take them home as souvenirs, too.

A ride to the top of one of Barcelona’s most iconic monuments, paired with fabulous city views and wine tasting, is a Barcelona experience like no other. The monument is open every day of the week from 8.30am to 8.30pm, with the last lift ride at 8pm. Tickets to the top cost six euros for adults and four euros for children and retirees. The viewpoint and wine-tasting combination ticket costs eight euros for adults and six euros for retirees.

Turisme de Barcelona | Wine tasting in a Barcelona monument, Discover Southern Europe

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