Discover why Lisbon is a sailors’ delight, register by 15 December to save
D uring the Age of Discovery, Portuguese explorers landed in places that are now home to many Rotarians who will attend the 2013 RI Convention in Lisbon, 23-26 June. (Register by 15 December to enjoy the best rate).
Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King John I, paved the way for Portugal’s dominance in exploration by sponsoring excursions that crept southward along the coast of Africa in the early 15th century. (In 1484, Christopher Columbus approached King John II with a proposal to sail west in search of the Indies, but it was rejected. Spain got the credit for that famed journey.)
Among the great Portuguese explorers was Bartolomeu Dias, who in 1488 sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost tip of Africa, ultimately proving to Europeans that it was possible to reach the Indies (and their valuable spices) by sea. In 1497, Vasco da Gama went farther, sailing up the eastern coast of Africa and across the Arabian Sea to reach India. Three years later, Pedro Álvares Cabral, en route to India, first sailed southwest to what is now Brazil.
In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan led the first expedition to circumnavigate the globe – although Magellan himself perished in a battle in the Philippines and did not complete the trip. Magellan was Portuguese, but because he’d fallen out of favor in his home country, his fleet sailed under the Spanish flag.
You can see evidence of Portugal’s prosperity during this era at some of Lisbon’s most beautiful sites, including the Jerónimos Monastery, which houses da Gama’s tomb, and Belém Tower, built to defend the mouth of the Tagus River.