10 interesting facts about Vasco Da Gama

I’ve written an article about the Age of Discoveries, so I obviously had to write about Vasco da Gama, one of the most famous Portuguese explorers! Read on and find out my top 10 interesting facts about Vasco da Gama.

Vasco da Gama is mostly known for uniting Europe and India by sea. He’s a very important figure in the Portuguese history. He traveled and discovered new territories and brought back from his travels new goods and knowledge.

From the fourteenth and seventeenth century, Vasco da Gama’s doings greatly influenced the history but also people’s lives. He found new lands, promoted trade but also spread religious ideals.

In this article, you will find out more about Vasco da Gama and understand the reason why he is one of the most famous Portuguese explorers.

Little is known about him

Vasco da Gama was born in 1469 in the city of Sines. He was the son of Estêvão da Gama, who also was a navigator. Very little is known about Vasco da Gama’s early life, besides the fact that he studied mathematics, astronomy and navigation.

The first to travel from Europe to India


Vasco da Cama is believed to be the first to travel from Europe to India by sea. During his explorations, he also established many trade routes along the coast of Africa and expanded Portuguese trade of merchandise and ideas to the new lands he had found in India.

He was sent by the King to explore the west


The King Manuel I of Portugal trusted Vasco da Gama to be the leader of an exploration to the west and to serve as the ambassador to the rulers of India as well.

About his crew

For this mission, he travelled with 170 men and four vessels which were the following ones: São Gabriel, São Rafael, Bérrio, and then, São Miguel which was the ship dedicated for supplies.

Vasco da Gama was known to be brutal


Vasco da Gama was known to be kind of brutal and arrogant. Some traits of his personality led to negative relations with the Muslims.

On his first journey to India, he found out that India had already established trade with many different countries, such as Africa and China. This, and the fact that he had an aggressive temper, complicated the establishment of a profitable relations with the natives. Some historians say that Vasco da Gama and his crew were disrespectful towards Hindu shrines and even kidnapped a few locals to be used as interpreters in their next expeditions.

> Learn more about his travels to India in this article.

He was a hero for the Portuguese

Thanks to his explorations and discoveries, Vasco da Gama gained major roles in the military and navy. Once he returned to Portugal, he was definitely seen as a hero by the Portuguese. One cannot deny the fact that he played an essential role in Portugal history.

Vasco da Gama greatly contibuted to the wealth of Portugal


During the fifteenth and sixteenth century, India was still quite a mystery. It was an unexplored land where one could find many fine spices and stunning jewelry. Once Vasco da Gama established a trading relationship with India, he created a new source of wealth for Portugal and gave it power.

Portugal economy was on the rise thanks to him

Vasco da Gama’s expeditions along the coast of Africa and to India improved Portugal’s economy and its expansion of trade. Thanks to him and many other explorers like him, Lisbon was once the greatest trading centre of Europe!

His explorations affected the religious world

One of the main reasons for the Age of Discoveries to happen was the spreading of the religion. During Vasco da Gama’s and other explorers travels, many people were converted to Catholicism and were taught the customs of the Christian religion. Throughout the Middle Ages, religion and politics worked together. One wouldn’t work without the other, so many initiatives of the Age of Discoveries originated from the will to expand Christianity.

> Find out more about the Age of Discoveries.

The Europeans got to discover plenty of new goods


Vasco da Gama’s discoveries introduced the Europeans to plenty of new goods. When he returned home, he would bring many unique spices, fabrics, jewelry and many other stuff the people had never seen, smelled, or tasted before!

You now know 10 interesting facts about Vasco da Gama! If you know more facts about him, feel free to share them in the comments! Also, if you’re interested in Portugal history, I’ve written a few articles you will probably enjoy: one is about the Carnation Revolution, then you also have one about the Age of Discoveries that will allow you to learn even more about this period of history!

Let’s play a little game: while in Lisbon, visit the area of Belém and go to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Have a look at the monument and try to spot Vasco da Gama. If you find him, take a picture and post it on the comments or share it on instagram and tag us @discoverwalks!

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