La Isabela

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La Isabela was the firstplanned settlement on American soilby Europeans . It was founded by Christopher Columbus on the north coast of the island of Hispaniola .


Columbus' first voyage, discovery of America.

On his second voyage to America (1493–1496), Christopher Columbus led a fleet of 17 ships that transported between 1200 and 1500 men to the island of Hispaniola, which he discovered the previous year. Fort La Navidad , also built the previous year, had been destroyed. In search of a suitable place for a settlement, Columbus sailed eastwards from there and landed on December 8, 1493 in the bay, in which he then founded La Isabela in January 1494 . The settlement was named after Isabella I of Castile , the Spanish monarch whom Columbus had promoted throughout her life. The official founding date is January 6th .

Development and problems


The Indians , who were friendly towards the settlers at first, became enemies because of bad treatment. This prompted Columbus to campaign against the local population, during which he enslaved Taíno in 1600 . This enslavement violated the orders of the Spanish royal family. Ferdinand II and Isabella I had instructed Columbus to treat the natives kindly because they saw future Christians in them. Nevertheless, Columbus shipped 550 indigenous people. Almost half of them died on the crossing. Upon arrival in Spain, the survivors were freed and shipped back at Isabella's instigation. Officially a factory ( factoría ) or trading post , its Spanish residents had to struggle with problems from the start. There wasn't enough food; many Spaniards fell sick and died. There were also Spanish noblemen, u. a. under Francisco Roldán , resistance to the foreigner Columbus and the way in which he administered La Isabela . Some of the settlers returned to Europe in February 1494. The colony was unable to support itself. There were also armed conflicts with the Taíno.

Several fortresses were built from La Isabela to pacify the Taíno and to secure gold deposits in the interior of the island. In La Vega Vieja , near today's Concepción de la Vega , a rapidly growing settlement soon formed, which lasted until 1562.

The end

La Isabela, state 2019
Columbus house

When Columbus returned to Spain in March 1496, his brother Bartolomeo founded a new settlement on the south coast, which was then called Santo Domingo . The reasons given for this are the better climate and the gold discoveries near Santo Domingo.

Because no ship was left in La Isabela , the Spanish had to cross the island on foot to reach the new city. The move dragged on until 1497. Then La Isabela was given up.


La Isabela is located north of the Río Bajabonico near the present-day village of El Castillo, about 20 km west of present-day Luperón and about 50 km west of the present-day city of Puerto Plata ( Dominican Republic ).

Archaeological finds

Skeleton of a Spaniard in the La Isabela cemetery

Extensive archaeological research was carried out in La Isabela in the 1990s . Among other things, five stone buildings of the former settlement could be detected, a warehouse, the church, a watchtower, a powder tower and Columbus' house - and a skeleton.


  • Kathleen Deagan, José Maria Cruxent: Columbus's Outpost among the Taínos. Spain and America at La Isabela, 1493-1498. Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2002, ISBN 0-300-09040-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Troy Floyd: The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean 1492-1526 University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque 1973; Stuart B. Schwartz: The Iberian Mediterranean and Atlantic Traditions in the Formation of Columbus as a Colonizer University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1986.

Coordinates: 19 ° 53 '14.4 "  N , 71 ° 4' 49.5"  W.