Sept. 17, 2019

500 years ago, Ferdinand Magellan sailed from Spain to find a western passage to the Indies. He did not survive but three years later his ship Victoria completed the first circumnavigation of the globe.


  • Ferdinand Magellan (1480 – 1521) was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano. 


  • After a quarrel with the Portuguese king, Ferdinand Magellan enlisted the support of Spain’s king Charles I for an expedition to reach the Moluccas by sailing westwards.

  • The Spanish wanted a share in the valuable spice trade from the Moluccas, but the Portuguese controlled the eastward route around southern Africa.

  • On September 20, 1519, Magellan set out with a fleet of five vessels. Magellan successfully crossed the Atlantic and eventually navigated through the strait at the southern point of South America which was later named after him (Strait of Magellan).

  • The three remaining ships crossed the Pacific Ocean in a northwesterly arc and finally reached the Philippines in March 1521, the first Europeans ever to set foot there. Within weeks Magellan was killed after becoming involved in a Battle of Mactan between two rival local chieftains.

  • The Victoria, the only remaining ship from the original fleet, eventually returned to Spain in September 1522 under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, having completed the first ever circumnavigation of the globe.