COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 13, 2013 – Christopher Columbus never stepped foot in Ohio, but the city named for the Italian explorer is home to a replica of the ship he sailed when he “discovered” the new world.
Built for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ journey in 1992, the Santa Maria replica is docked at a park in the heart of downtown Columbus. The full-size replica of the three-mast vessel – classified as a nao or carrack type ship – measures 98 feet long and 89 feet tall.
It is considered to be the most-authentic replica of the Santa Maria, the largest of the three ships Columbus used on his first voyage 521 years ago this Saturday.
The ship, which can be rented for private events ranging from parties to wedding receptions, is docked at Battelle Riverfront Park on the Scioto River. Built in 1991 by Scarano Boat Building in Albany, New York, the vessel, which was cut in half for transporting to the Midwest, remains in working condition and open for tours.
During a 45-minute walk through of the ship, guides bring the voyage to life, giving visitors a unique glimpse into the difficult conditions Columbus and his crew endured on their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
The basics of Columbus’ story are well-known. “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” the famous mnemonic device goes.
With three ships – the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria – no GPS and about 90 men, he set sail from Europe under the Spanish flag in search of a “western route to the Orient.”
He never made it. Instead, he “discovered” America,” when on Oct. 12, 1492, Columbus’ men spotted part of what is today the Bahamas.
What many may not realize is that the Santa Maria – officially named La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción and first launched in 1460 – never made the return voyage to Spain. On Dec. 24, 1492, it crashed off the coast of what is today Haiti.
Columbus left the remains of the Santa Maria and its crew of 39 men behind. Using timbers from the vessel, the men built La Navivdad, the first Spanish settlement in the new world.
When Columbus returned on a subsequent voyage about a year later, he found the settlement destroyed and his men killed.
Admission is $4.50 for adults, $4 for seniors 60 years and older and $3.50 for children between the ages of 5 and 17. For more information, visit www.santamaria.org.
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