Our YA novel Hammer of Witches is a historical fantasy that follows young Baltasar Infante as he inadvertently finds himself part of Columbus’s first westward journey. In this post, our intern Andres Oliver looks at some of the places Columbus and Baltasar pass through, then and now.
Baltasar Infante’s quest to find his father carries him along with Columbus from the shores of Spain to the New World. We first meet Baltasar in the Spanish port town of Palos de la Frontera, whose scent of “seaweed and ale…smell of home” to the young protagonist (Hammer of Witches 19). Located in the Andalusian province of Huelva, the present-day Palos may smell different altogether; the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and recent construction of docks to shelter the port of Huelva have brought the town further inland.
Though the town has moved, visitors will still find many of the vestiges of the historical port city where Columbus began his journey. Attractions include the fifteenth-century church of San Jorge, where Columbus and his crew heard mass before departure, and La Fontanilla, a medieval well where they took on water. Furthermore, the town features a monument to the enterprising Pinzón brothers (who also play a part in Hammer of Witches) and a monolith engraved with the names of the seventy sailors who set sail from Palos is 1492.