The Monument to the Discoverers

(Padrão dos Descobrimentos)

Is one of Portugal's most famous monuments created by architect Cottinelli Telmo (1897) - 1948) and the sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida (1898 - 1975). The current version of the monument was built in 1960 on the 500th anniversary of the death of Henrique the Navigator. However the first version was built for the Portuguese World Exhibition (Exposição do Mundo Português) which ran from the 23rd June to the 2nd of December 1940). The distinctive design represents a ship ready to set sail with sculptures of those figures who took a crucial role in Portugal's age of discovery

Vasco da Gama

Was born in Sines in 1468/69, and died in Cochin, India on December 24, 1524. The third of six brothers, son of Stephen of the Gama – governor of Sines – and Isabel Sodré and grandson of a homonym Vasco da Gama, judge in Elvas. He was a Portuguese navigator and explorer during the Age of Discovery, distinguished by his work as commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India.

Ferdinand Magellan

In search of fame and fortune, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480-1521) set out from Spain in 1519 with a fleet of five ships to discover a western sea route to the Spice Islands. En route he discovered what is now known as the Strait of Magellan and became the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean. The voyage was long and dangerous, and only one ship returned home three years later. Although it was laden with valuable spices from the East, only 18 of the fleet’s original crew of 270 returned with the ship. Magellan himself was killed in battle on the voyage, but his ambitious expedition proved that the globe could be circled by sea and that the world was much larger than had previously been imagined.

Christopher Columbus

It has always been up for debate weather Christopher Columbus’s nationality was Spanish or Portuguese, but nowadays historians are inclining more and more towards Italian. He lived in Portugal for quite a while, and therefore is included in our list. Between 1492 and 1503, he managed to complete four voyages, He famously discovered North America in 1492, whilst being convinced that he had reached the shores of India. Columbus’s voyages notably mark the onset of European exploration of the world, but also of its colonisation.

Zarco & Tristão Vaz Teixeira

João Gonçalves Zarco (1390 – 1471) was a Portuguese explorer who established settlements and recognition of the Madeira Islands and was appointed first captain of Funchal by Henry the Navigator. Zarco was born in Portugal and became a knight at the service of Prince Henry the Navigator’s household. In his service at an early age, Zarco commanded the caravels guarding the coast of Algarve from the incursions of the Moors, was at the conquest of Ceuta, and later led the caravels that recognized the island of Porto Santo in 1418 to 1419 and afterward, the island of Madeira 1419 to 1420. Tristão Vaz Teixeira (1395 –1480) was a Portuguese navigator and explorer who, together with João Gonçalves Zarco and Bartolomeu Perestrelo, was the official discoverer and one of the first settlers of the archipelago of Madeira (1419–1420). Tristão was a nobleman of Prince Henry the Navigator’s House, taking part in the conquest of Ceuta. Around 1418, while exploring the coast of Africa, he and João Gonçalves Zarco were taken off course by bad weather and came upon an island which they called Porto Santo (Holy Harbour). Shortly after, they were ordered by Prince Henry to settle the island, together with Bartolomeu Perestrelo.