Vasco da Gama

Essential information

Opening times: 
National Maritime Museum, First floor, Traders gallery

Learn how to appropriately wear one's bling from this great explorer.

Vasco de Gama looks resplendent in his blue and gold turban wearing a breastplate, red-lined fur coat, gold-laced and slashed. Around his neck is the cross of Commander of the Portuguese Military Order of Christ. This order was awarded to Vasco da Gama by King Emmanuel I as a sign of promotion, in 1507, following his second return from India.

In 1497 Vasco da Gama commanded an expedition, equipped by the Portuguese government, that rounded the Cape of Good Hope and reached Calicut in India. This made him the first ever European to reach India by sea. His mission was to break up the Muslim, Venetian and Genoese monopolies that controlled the lucrative trade route between Europe and Asia via the eastern Mediterranean. His voyage launched the all-water route from Europe to Asia and he sailed again in 1502 with the title of Admiral of India, and a third time as Viceroy in 1524 but died soon afterwards.