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Historic voyage around world celebrates 500th anniversary

First circumnavigation around world started, ended in Spain

Photo by Getty Images.

Earlier this month, and possibly rather quietly, an anniversary surrounding a significant voyage in world history came and went. 

Sept. 20 marked the 500th anniversary of the start of the first circumnavigation around the world, which started in Spain.

Explorer Ferdinand Magellan set sail from Spain with five ships and backing from the country’s king, with the objective being to sail west to the Spice Islands, now modern-day Indonesia. 

By establishing a western route to the Spice Islands, Magellan hoped to open up another trade route for Spain since Portugal controlled the eastern routes. 

The voyage took nearly three years to complete, but the crew that went on the excursion didn't nearly have the strength in numbers when it returned to Spain in 1522. 

Only one of the five ships, the Victoria, made the entire journey, and only 18 of the original 270 members survived. 

Magellan himself didn’t make it the entire way, as he was tragically killed by a poison arrow in the Philippines while helping one tribe fight another. 

Magellan and the crew did become the first Europeans to see the Pacific Ocean during the journey, and they showed that travel around the world could be done, even in that era. 


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