The First Sailing Around the World. 1519- 1522

First saling around the world 1519-1522

“Y más sabrá Vuestra Majestad de aquello que más debemos estimar y es que hemos descubierto y dado la vuelta a toda la redondez de la tierra….”

Letter written by Juan Sebastián Elcano on board the Nao Victoria on the 6th of September of 1522 when the expedition arrived back to Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz, Andalusia).

On 8 September 1522, eighteen men aboard the Nao Victoria and led by Juan Sebastián Elcano arrived in Seville putting an end to the greatest maritime achievement of history: the First Sailing around the World. During an expedition that lasted more than 3 years, the crew got to navigate the widest oceans and discover the immensity of the Earth for the first time in history. On 10 August 1519, 250 men set sail from the port of Seville aboard 5 ships which made up the fleet known as the Armada de Molucca. The expedition was led by Ferdinand Magellan, financed by the Spanish Crown and aimed to find a new route to the Spice Islands by sailing westwards. The spices had become the most precious and valued good in the European markets, however they were mainly produced in the Moluccas Islands (in present day Indonesia). Therefore, in order to find a route to get to the spices, the five ships set sail and navigated west wind to find an unknown path or strait that would connect the two biggest oceans on Earth. During the three years of navigation, the expedition crossed three entire oceans and skirted several continents. At the end of the voyage through the Atlantic Ocean the fleet arrived to a strait that took them to the Pacific Ocean, and that was then named the Strait of Magellan. After this, the expedition got to cross the entire Pacific Ocean for the first time in history, getting to know its islands and archipelagoes and arriving to the Philippines and the Moluccas Islands. Many crewmembers who experienced numerous and diverse vicissitudes lost their life in this journey, others fortunately got to know the new lands. Ferdinand Magellan didn’t get to the end of this historic feat, as he unfortunately died in the Philippines Islands. From then on, it was Juan Sebastián Elcano, who was the captain of the Nao Victoria, the last and only ship that survived the travel until then, who led the journey back to Spain with all the spices and through the Indian Ocean. The journey back lasted 86 days, a travel they did following the Roaring Forties route, without any stop until they got to the African Continent. Once they skirted the Cape of Good Hope, the fleet started heading north until they finally arrived to Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz) and Seville. After this adventure only 18 men arrived in Seville the 8th of September 1522, after a sailing that lasted 3 years and 14 days and that covered 37.753 nautical miles (69.918 kilometers) putting an end to the First Sailing around the World aboard the Nao Victoria. At last the men became aware of the world they lived in and established a path that connected oceans and seas.



“Como esta navegación sea tenida por admirable y nunca jamás… no haya sido hallada otra semejante… son por cierto, estos dieciocho marineros que con esta nao aportaron a Sevilla, dignos de ser puestos en inmortal memoria”

Letter by Maximiliano Transilvano, Secretary of the king, 1522
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