Diego Columbus was the eldest son of Christopher Columbus and 2nd Viceroy of the Indies under King Ferdinand II. Diego, who was Portuguese by birth, began his service to the Crown of Spain as a page to the royal court after his father departed Spain on his first voyage to the Americas. Diego served the the court for years but fell out of favor after the 1506 death of his father. Diego tried without success to regain his father’s titles for years. He finally succeeded in 1508 when, after a stroke of luck (and a marriage to King Ferdinand’s cousin), he was granted governorship of the Indies.
Diego arrived in Santo Domingo accompanied by a splendid entourage. The newly named governor had brought along not only his new wife, the firs gran dama of the new world, but his brother, uncles, cousins, his fathers old retainers, as well as servants for him and his wife. One of his first acts as governor of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Cuba was to order the construction of a new residence for him and his family, the Alcázar De Colón.
The palace was easily the most impressive structure in the new world after its 1512 completion. 1,500 Taíno Indians slaved away to build this fifty room mansion and its accompanying grand gardens and courtyards. What remains today is only about half the size of the original construction ordered by Diego.