Hispanorama travel blog

500th Anniversary: Magellan and Elcano

Feb 20, 2019

2019 marks the fifth centennial of an event that changed our view of the world forever: the first voyage to completely circumnavigate the globe, proving that the Earth is indeed a sphere. This expedition set out from Seville in 1519, and to commemorate the great achievement, the city is hosting a packed program of events in honor of it.

The voyage that changed the world

On August 10, 1519, King Charles I of Spain appointed the naval officer Ferdinand Magellan along with Juan Sebastián de Elcano on an expedition to the Maluku Islands (part of Indonesia), known at the time as the ‘Spice Islands’. 239 men and five ships departed. In order to evade the Portuguese fleet, Magellan left from Seville and sailed south and west. On September 6, 1522, Elcano and the remaining crew of Magellan’s expedition – just 18 men and one ship – arrived in Spain, completing the first known voyage around the entire Earth, almost exactly three years after the departure.

Of course, the journey was not an easy one – the crew endured a hard winter on land in what today would be southern Argentina, high numbers of death and desertion, and even a stifled riot. Still, the Magellan-Elcano expedition literally changed the world and our knowledge of it, proving that the Earth was actually a sphere, finding a passage that connected the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans (today known as Strait of Magellan), and discovering new territories like the Philippines.

Three years of events and activities

The 500th anniversary of this journey around the world will be celebrated with an impressive three-year program of activities mirroring the three years that the Magellan-Elcano voyage took to complete (from 1519 to 1522). The program aims to tell the story of the expedition in Spain and the world, drawing attention to its importance and to the explorers behind the great achievement. The program events will be especially important in the ports where the voyage began (Seville and Sanlúcar de Barrameda), as well as its stopping place in Tenerife, and the city of Valladolid, where King Charles gave Magellan his consent for the expedition.

Events are diverse, ranging from conferences on history and biodiversity, to a participatory shipbuilding event to take place in Seville. Others are more traditional, like expositions on spices and maps, film screenings, and musical performances.

Taking part in the celebrations

If you will be travelling in or near Seville or Valladolid, take advantage of this special program! The journey of Magellan and Elcano represents one of the most important events in the history of Spain and the world, and one that is sure to be of interest to your group. Get in touch with us today to see what the program can add to your tour!




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