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The relay symbolised the link between the Mediterranean and American civilisations and retraced the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World. It evoked the events and places associated with this voyage, notably travelling through the three key places of Genoa, the birthplace of Columbus; Palos in Spain, from where he set sail; and San Salvador, the first land he reached on the other side of the Atlantic.
After its lighting in Olympia, the flame travelled by relay in Greece to Athens, from where it set sail for Italy on 25 August.
The 27th of August, the flame disembarked in Genoa, Italy where a ceremony was held in front of the house where Christophe Columbus had lived. It left the next day, again by sea, for Spain.
The 30th of August, the flame reached Barcelona, the city where Columbus had arrived on his return from America. On land, it travelled across Spain via Madrid to Palos. The last relay leg was run by Cristóbal Colón Carbajal, a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus.
The flame left the south coast of Spain on 12 September, reaching the Canary Islands on 14 September and, a fortnight later, San Salvador, Bahamas in the same place that Columbus landed in the New World in 1492.
The 6th of October, the flame disembarked in Veracruz in Mexico, transported by a relay of 17 swimmers who carried it to the shore. It was then brought to Teotihuacan, 38 km from Mexico City. There, on the evening of 11 October, under the watchful eye of 50,000 spectators, a majestic ceremony symbolising the fusion of mythologies from the Old and New Worlds took place on the site of pre-Columbian pyramids.
When the flame arrived in Mexico City on the morning of the Opening Ceremony on 12 October two torches were lit from it. One torch was taken to the National Museum of Anthropology, one of the Cultural Olympiad sites. A second torch was taken by plane to the site of the sailing competitions in Acapulco. In both places a cauldron was lit and kept burning for the duration of the Games.