Government of Portugal

11/24/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/25/2021 09:51

Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation route submitted for UNESCO memory Commemorations of the 500 years of the first voyage around the world continue in 2022

2021-11-24 at 17h52

Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation route submitted for UNESCO memory

Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Santos Silva, and Minister of Maritime Affairs, Serrão Santos, at the press conference on the Commemoration of the 5th Centenary of the Circumnavigation, Lisbon, 24 November 2021 (photo: António Cotrim/Lusa)

Modal galeria

The Portuguese Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, announced that Portugal and Spain will submit to UNESCO documents on Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation, a joint submission to the Memory of the World Register, after the 4th meeting of the National Committee for the 500th Anniversary of the Circumnavigation Commemoration, in Lisbon.

Santos Silva noted that this is a set of 15 documents, including Pigafetta's journal, the journey's chronicler, an indirect report by Fernando de Oliveira, and 13 documents contained in the national archives of Portugal and Spain, "which allow us to understand" from other perspectives also, the absolutely novel meaning of the circumnavigation of the Earth. The application will be submitted by the end of November.


The Minister underlined the uniqueness of this set of documents, offering as example the letter sent by the King of Spain to the King of Portugal, explaining that the fact that he had fostered and funded a journey to the Moluccas did not represent an attempt to disturb or hinder the interests of the Portuguese crown.

"We hope that the other 11 countries visited in this circumnavigation will join us", Santos Silva said, adding that "they will certainly support this submission".

The Memory of the World programme was created by UNESCO in 1992 with the aim of protecting and promoting world documental heritage through the conservation of and access to the documents.

Memory of the World Register

Several Portuguese documents and sets of documents are in this register, the most famous of which is the letter of discovering Brazil, written by Pedro Vaz de Caminha.

The Treaty of Tordesillas, the report of the first flight over the South Atlantic, by Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral, the route of Vasco da Gama's first voyage, the register containing the visas issued by the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux Aristides de Sousa Mendes, among others, are also contained in this Register.


The celebrations of the fifth centenary of the first circumnavigation of the Earth, which were deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance interrupting the voyage by the Sagres training ship, will include publishing the results of the scientific research under way.

Minister Augusto Santos Silva mentioned that "this year, we have already published the book that systematically presents the maps and reports of the first century of conquering the Strait of Magellan, which were analysed and studied by Portuguese historian Henrique Leitão and Spanish researcher José María Morena".

"This work has already been edited and we will now edit a second one, which is the first approach to this first century of crossing the Strait of Magellan, through charts, maps and routes created to aid sailors in crossing the strait", he added.

The Pigafetta journal

Publishing the "first Portuguese translation of Pigafetta's journal's canonical texts, with the necessary scholarly adaptations" is also envisaged. Pigafetta was the voyage's chronicler.

"We have had since 1999 a text philologically drafted from the various versions of Pigafetta's journals. This text hasn't yet been translated into Portuguese, but it will be, fruit of the task force and scientific team headed by Professor Henrique Leitão", Santos Silva exclaimed.


The Minister also noted other projects for the third and last year of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the voyage, such as organizing the "Pelos Mares do Mundo" [Throughout the World's Oceans] exhibition, with a Portuguese-Spanish team of curators that will open to the public in May, at the Soares dos Reis National Museum in Porto.

"It will be the pinnacle of all the work we've done in terms of exhibitions, and which will also be the opportunity to organise a travelling exhibition with Spain, on Portuguese and Spanish soil, and which will somehow bridge the end of the formal commemoration with the memory of this extraordinary feat, this circumnavigation, continuing in another country", he exclaimed.

Among the activities held in 2021, the Minister highlighted the start of the eight research projects in the field of ocean science and observation, funded by the Science and Technology Foundation, to a sum of 2.4 million euros, which are under way, with the presentation of the first results scheduled for 2022.

Regarding editorial production, Santos Silva noted "the universe of publications for children and youths to show the circumnavigation voyage, the importance of Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano, and the significance of this voyage for Portuguese history".

The first voyage around the world took place in 1519/1522, with captain Ferdinand Magellan at the helm and, after his death, in the Philippines, by Juan Sebastián Elcano.