Spanish conquest of the Pacific featured in Archivo Nacional exhibition

When explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa saw the expanse of the Pacific in 1513 he must have been filled with awe.

The explorer was about to spark a wave of exploration and trade that gave the Spanish control of key Pacific lands for centuries. The Portuguese navigator Fernando Magellan in the service of King Carlos I of Spain followed up on the discovery of the Pacific and directed an expedition that circumnavigated the globe.

In modern terms these 16th century efforts were as daunting and foreboding as the U.S. Moon mission or the much anticipated voyage to Mars. In fact, Magellan did not make it home. He was killed in the Philippines in 1521 during a clash with the natives there.

The period from when word of the exploits of the Magellan expedition reached Spain until about 1607 was when the Pacific became a major trade route.

Artifacts from that period are going on display today at the Archivo Nacional to celebrate its 135th anniversary.

The Archivo Nacional promises facsimiles of documents

directly from the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla, among others. The exhibition is called “Pacífico, España y la aventura de la Mar del Sur.”

There also are maps, ship models and replicas of navigational instruments of the period. There also are early maps of California and some of the Pacific islands.

Organizers note that Magellan’s expedition did not have a choice when the crews circled the globe. Until about 1565 Spanish explorers were not able to return to the Americas from the Pacific because of the winds. They had yet to map out a route that would allow an eastward trip.

Th exposition at the Zapote facility runs until December. The hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Also participating in the exposition are the Centro Cultural de España, the Spanish Embassy, the ministries of Educación, Cultura y Deporte of Spain and Acción Cultural Española. Also providing support are the Museo Nacional de Filipinas, the  Museo Provincial de Huelva in Spain, the Archivo de Bogotá in Colombia, the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática de Cartagena in Spain, the Casa de Cultura Ecuatoriana de Quito, Ecuador, the Museo del Mar de Vigoin Spain and the Centro Cultural de España in México.

This is part of a map made in December 1590 by the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius. The map depicted the Magellan flagship, the Victoria, heading west off the coast of South America. The map lacks the finer points of modern maps because crews of that period lacked accurate ways to determine longitude, not to mention satellites.

This is part of a map made in December 1590 by the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius. The map depicted the Magellan flagship, the Victoria, heading west off the coast of South America. The map lacks the finer points of modern maps because crews of that period lacked accurate ways to determine longitude, not to mention satellites.

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