It is astonishing to see to what extent Magellan’s name is famous when this Portuguese captain’s real accomplishment was forgotten by most. Quite simply, in 1519, Fernando Magellan put together a crazy expedition that was to take 237 men to the indies via the western route. In doing so, Magellan wished to bring to life Christopher Columbus’ dreams. He threw himself headlong into this project concerning a land of which the exact dimensions were unknown, and with the wind as his sole driving power, along dangerous and unknown coastlines, accompanied by a wary Spanish crew, in latitudes where no boat had ever sailed before.
Under his command, 5 ships left Seville on 21 September 1519, but after 3 years of escapades that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the greatest adventure novels, only 18 sick, worn out, and dying sailors sailed back up the Guadalquivir River on the Victoria. They had just achieved the first-ever round-the-world journey. Miraculously, the onboard chronicler was among those 18 survivors.
Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian, brought back with him a handwritten book in which he had recorded every day of this fabulous odyssey. Other letters and eyewitness accounts, and maps from the period allow us to look back at this true story that permanently changed the way we look at the world. We shall be celebrating the 500th anniversary of this journey from 2019 to 2022, giving an opportunity to bring back to life one of the most extraordinary maritime adventures ever.