Built in the shape of a cross, the towering 206m-tall (676-ft.) El Faro a Colón monument is both a sightseeing attraction and a cultural center. In the heart of the structure is a chapel containing the Columbus tomb and, some say, his mortal remains. The "bones" of Columbus were allegedly moved here from the nearby Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. (Other locations, including the Cathedral of Seville, also claim to possess the explorer's remains.)

In 2006 it was announced that scientists had confirmed that at least some of the remains of Columbus were buried in the cathedral in Seville (Spain). DNA samples from 500-year-old bone slivers contradict the D.R.'s claim that the explorer was laid to rest in the New World. However, some of his remains could have been buried in Santo Domingo, but not all.

DNA taken from bones buried in Seville was compared to that of Columbus's brother, Diego, who is also buried in Seville. It was an absolute match.

Juan Bautista Mieses, the director of the Columbus Lighthouse, challenged the findings. "The remains never left Dominican territory," he claimed. The D.R. is refusing to allow the remains in Santo Domingo to be tested. "We Christians believe that one does not bother the dead," Mieses said.

The most outstanding and unique feature of the cathedral is the lighting system composed of 149 searchlights and a 70-kilowatt beam that radiates outward for nearly 71km (44 miles). When illuminated, the lights project a gigantic cross in the sky that can be seen as far away as Puerto Rico.

Although the concept of the memorial is 140 years old, the first stones were not laid until 1986, following the design submitted in 1929 by J. L. Gleave, the winner of the worldwide contest held to choose the architect. The monumental lighthouse was inaugurated on October 6, 1992, the day Columbus's "remains" were transferred from the cathedral.