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Monuments to Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca.

Monument to Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in Houston, Texas, United States.

After the five entries I have dedicated to my fellow countryman, in which I have briefly covered his life, it seemed to me that as a final touch, I should speak about some of the monuments erected in his honor across the face of the Earth.

Let’s start with the one in the image that opens this entry…

Monument installed in the centenary gardens of Hermann Park’s McGovern in Houston, Texas.

Acquired by the City of Houston in 1986, the work of Pilar Cortella de Rubin.

It’s a bronze bust of the explorer, depicted wearing chest armor and a helmet atop his head. He is portrayed as a bearded man with long hair flowing down his shoulders.

On the granite base, it reads in Spanish and English: “Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1490-1560). Modern Texas history begins with this Spanish explorer, who lived here from 1528 to 1536. This sculpture has been donated for the occasion of the visit of Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía of Spain.”

Commemorative plaque of the discovery of the Iguazu Falls.

On it, it reads: “To Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Tribute from the General Administration of National Parks and Tourism. In memory of the discoverer of these waterfalls, Mr. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who after fierce struggles with nature and the unknown, in his daring journey from the Atlantic Brazilian jungles in search of a route to the Rio de la Plata, discovered this wonder of the world in the year 1541.”

Monument in Ciudad Juárez.

In it, we can see on a mound the slender figure of the explorer, dressed in loincloth where he carries a dagger, with his left hand on his forehead in an attitude of scanning the landscape, and his right hand holds a stick resembling a staff, which ends in a cross shape. He appears to carry a sort of bag slung across his chest and a pendant.

The monument was erected by Juan Carlos Canfield Zapata on April 24, 2001.

And in Jerez de la Frontera, his hometown…
Monument to Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Jerez de la Frontera. Cádiz.

In his hometown, in addition to a street and one of the best institutes, where I had the privilege of studying half of ESO and Bachillerato (high school levels), we find this beautiful fountain with his monument.

Located on Calle Ancha, in Santiago Square and in front of a section of the old Arab wall that once surrounded Sherish Saduna, stands the figure of the explorer on foot. He is depicted in bronze, cutting through the dense jungle that covers his nudity, except for his left leg, as he is represented wearing only his helmet and holding an axe in his right hand.

Behind him, as a backdrop, four indigenous figures are also represented in bronze, dressed with bows and arrows.

The fountain, resembling a pond, receives water from two sources, one on each side, with the one on the left closest to the front corner and the one on the right towards the back. Under the indigenous figures, a waterfall is formed, which may remind us of his discovery of the Iguazu Falls.

On the commemorative plaque, it reads: “Jerez to Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, explorer of Florida. Adelantado of the Río de la Plata. April 27, 1991.”

With this, I consider the review of my daring fellow countryman’s life concluded, although I don’t rule out writing again about some of his adventures in the future…

And if…

1 You know of other monuments, recognitions, and tributes to this native of Jerez, leave them in the comments!

2 You feel like visiting it in person, get in touch with me, and we’ll organize your visit.

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