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The Portuguese Community in the Port of London

Voyages of discovery
Sugar, wine and tobacco
The Jews and the Portuguese queen
Changing fortunes
From East End to West End
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Voyages of discovery

Rich maritime heritage

A Portuguese Carrack before the wind.
View full size imageA Portuguese carrack before the wind. © NMM
It is hardly surprising that the Portuguese have a rich maritime heritage. Like other seafaring peoples - such as the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Vikings and the Arabs  - they have a long history of overseas contact, trade and colonization.

Portuguese fishermen and boats, Nazare, Portugal.
View full size imagePortuguese fishermen and boats, Nazare, Portugal. © NMM
The Portuguese offshore craft of the Atlantic coast with their 'eyes' and tapering prows are similar to the fishing boats of Malta and ancient Phoenicia. The method of construction of the 'Barcos Rebelos' of Oporto is reminiscent of the Viking longboats.




The Portuguese discoverers

Vasco da Gama
View full size imageVasco De Gama. © NMM
The Portuguese undertook their voyages of discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries based on Arab or Moorish and Jewish knowledge of geography.

The 'discoverers' included:

  • Bartholomew Dias
  • Vasco Da Gama, who discovered the sea route to India around Africa in 1498
  • Pedro Alvares Cabral, who accidently discovered Brazil in 1500.

The legacy of the Portuguese explorations remains with us today in the names of places around the world. It is also seen in the fact that Portuguese remains the fifth most spoken language in the world. 


Vasco Da Gama pillar, Malindi.
View full size imageVasco Da Gama pillar, Malindi. © NMM
Vasco da Gama Pillar, Malindi.
View full size imageVasco da Gama pillar, Malindi. © NMM


Vasco Da Gama Tomb, Cochin, Kerela, India.
View full size imageVasco Da Gama tomb, Cochin, Kerela, India. © NMM
St Francis Church, Cochin, Kerala, India.
View full size imageSt Francis Church, Cochin, Kerala, India. © NMM

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