Fact Check

Navidad Fort Destroyed

Dex and Ava explore the Haiti wilderness looking for the site of La Navidad, the first European colony in America. They learn that the colony was destroyed leaving no trace of the fort today.

The Return of Columbus

Columbus came back to La Navidad in November 1493, almost one year after the Santa Maria sank. This time he was commanding a large fleet of Spanish ships. It was now his second voyage.

Arriving along the coast, the fleet signaled to La Navidad, but there was no response from the fort located a few miles from the shore. Something was wrong.

The Colony Destroyed

Columbus sent a group to investigate. The fort that had been built from the remains of the Santa Maria had been burned to the ground. The details may never be known for sure, but most historians believe that the actions of the Spaniards, in search of riches, may have caused a neighboring tribe to attack the fort and the Taino village.

Columbus abandoned the colony in Haiti, and moved to a new settlement he called La Isabella at a site that is today part of the Dominican Republic.

Has Anyone Found the Santa Maria or La Navidad?

Archeologists, working on both land and water, have tried to find the remains of either the Santa Maria or fort Navidad.

Over the years, there have been several groups who have claimed to find the hull of the Santa Maria in the shallow beaches of Haiti. But each time, these efforts to identify the Santa Maria have either failed or remained unproven. A museum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti has an anchor that some claim to be from the Santa Maria, but this cannot be known for sure.

At the site of La Navidad, archeologists have found fragments of glass and pottery that they believe to be from the Europeans, but have not yet found evidence of the fort itself. Historian believe that if the archeological site can be identified, it might give us some information about what really happened to La Navidad and the people there in 1493.

Sources and Further Reading


Morison, S. E. (1942). Admiral of the ocean sea: A life of Christopher Columbus. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., p.423-428

Taviani, P. E. (1991). Columbus, the great adventure: His life, his times, and his voyages. New York: Orion Books, p.150-153.

Frye, J. (1973). The search for the Santa María. New York: Dodd, Mead, p.123-130.


* Pelta, K. (1991). Discovering Christopher Columbus: How history is invented. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, p.80-83

* Levinson, N. S. (1990). Christopher Columbus: Voyager to the unknown. New York: Lodestar Books, p.63-64

* Dodge, S. (1991). Christopher Columbus and the first voyages. New York: Chelsea House, p.93-97


* Young Reader's Selection