La Fontanilla was the public fountain of Palos de la Frontera where, according to tradition, the ships Santa María, Pinta, and Niña were supplied with water when, on August 3, 1492, they set sail from the port of Palos towards the Indies. La Fontanilla is the humblest, but also the most original and authentic monument of the so-called Columbus Sites.
Located on the outskirts of the town, towards the eastern part, at the foot of the small acropolis where the population was established in the Middle Ages, with its castle, and behind the apse of the parish, this construction is situated. Built on an ancient Roman wellhead and protected by a small temple or tetrapylon, constructed with bricks in the 13th century in Mudéjar style, with a square plan and a semi-spherical vault externally covered and circumscribed in a pyramidal spire. The supporting element consists of four slightly lowered semicircular arches, supported by angular pillars reinforced with buttresses.
The spout was located in the center, and on the sides, channels were opened through which water flowed, collecting on the eastern side in a long trough. Recent studies have shown that it was originally coated with almagre (red earth) and painted with religious motifs, a circumstance that, along with being located on the entrance road to the city, suggests that, in addition to being a public fountain and a resting place for those returning to the town, whether from the dock or the road, it could also have been a humilladero or penance station, a place of prayer and reflection where one could find not only rest for the body but also peace for the soul. In this sense, its similarities with other humilladeros in Andalusia, such as the Cruz del Campo, so closely linked to the origin of Holy Week in Seville, should be studied.
Currently, La Fontanilla has been restored with a visible brick finish, and the gargoyle at the pillar’s outlet is the only stone element.