Route of Magellan. First around the World

Date of Submission: 31/01/2017
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Portugal to UNESCO
Ref.: 6212

The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.

The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The Magellan Route is the trail of the First Voyage Around the World. It is a universal and global road because its itinerary is developed throughout the main oceans and all the continents in both planet hemispheres. The Magellan Route is the way traced by the nautical expedition made by the first world circumnavegation in the dawning of the 16th century. This path was organized and led by one of the most extraordinary explorer and sailor ever, Ferdinand Magellan, who for the first time placed in the maps not only a new and immense ocean (Pacific), which has then been fully navigated for the first time, but also the Strait that connected the two big oceans in the planet, the Atantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. This route was used during four centuries to connect the East and the West through the sea, since it was the only possible route used by ships until the construction of the Panama Canal in the 20th century. The valuable contribution of this universal route to the human history can be seen not only in the voyage itself, but also in the historical background of the voyage and in the consequences it had in the development of several civilisations.

Such an extraordinary journey cannot be understood without having in mind a historical moment shared by Portugal and Spain. Both were acutely dedicated to research and achieved knowledge about nautical technology, cartography and astronomy, as well as other fields related to the exploration of the oceans. Since the beginning of the 16th century, the navigation route designed by Magellan and his sailors during the First Circumnavigation around the World has geographical and symbolically linked different cultures and civilizations, providing exchanges and achievements in commerce, scientific knowledge and cultural, artistic and religious practices. It may be said that the first globalization of our world started in that moment. Also, for the first time people became aware of the multicultural fact, because multiculturalism was empirically shown as the diversity of people and cultures that made contact with each other, which could be seen by intuition and audacity of an almost unnamed person who was involved in the Magellan trip, the Italian Antonio Pigafetta, the same who left a diary-like written record of the voyage, where he reported day by day befallen events. In sum, Magellan Route represents the confirmation of the Earth’s roundness, is at the origins of the concept of globalism and the universality of knowledge. Thanks to the discovery of the Strait of Magellan and the crossing of the Pacific Ocean, new models of expansion, commercial and economic were well known, involving countries from all continents. This model survives today and is called globalization. The global expansion of scientific and technological knowledge also took place as never before. Both facts are widely theorized and well described by Adam Smith among many others.

Geographical locations included in the Route are situated in the following countries: Uruguay, Argentina, Brasil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Indonesia, Philipines Portugal, and Spain.

Most of the places are very well-known and documented; nevertheless, due to the complexity and vastness of the Magellan Route, more accuracy is required for others. Thus, thorough and in depth research work is needed in all the countries involved, so that, the different territorial places and regional areas that are part of the Route may be scientifically identified and documented.

The analysis and inventory of all the route sites will be accomplished among all the participant countries, based on the very exhaustive available documentation (chronicles, maps, bibliography, etc.), as well as on the monumental remains and stories that are part of the rich historical and heritage memory preserved in the different territories along the itinerary.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The routes travelled by the different populations and cultures who inhabited the planet has been very diverse; nevertheless, the Magellan Route was the first that charted a global map of our world. For the first time the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans were navigated sequentially, thus allowing humanity to perceive the huge richness and diversity (geographical, cultural, anthropological...) in the lands they touched. It was the first integral route that provided unique communication canals used during the following four centuries. Facts and events experienced by those "Magellan Argonauts" were disseminated in hundreds of chronicles almost over five centuries and were the evidence of a singular and unique fact in the history of humanity. Today, the Magellan Route is still a perfect example of oceanic navigation and exploratory trip. A fascinating trail whose waterways, landscapes and geographical landmarks remains intact as they were seen by Magellan and his sailors 500 years ago.

Criterion (ii): The Magellan Route is the perfect example of an exploratory trip as it widened the vision of the world from the 15th to the 18th centuries, particularly due to the discovery of the Magellan Strait and the Pacific Ocean. From that moment on, a spherical world was showed and sailed for the first time. This fact amplified and diversified all routes previously established among Europe, America and Asia. The Magellan Route was a master key-like in communications. It opened doors in the places where they passed, where people, ideas and goods were coming and going. It established commercial contacts between East and West that remained for centuries. Also, it promoted the exchange of multiple sorts of experiences (scientific, cultural, religious...). Huge areas of America and Asia where known and visited afterwards by Europeans thanks to the maps made during this voyage. Those maps where not only geographical ones, but also cultural and linguistic, in sum, anthropological.

Criterion (iv): The voyage completed by Magellan and his multi-ethnic sailors (a crew composed of Germans, Flemings, French, Greeks, Indians, British, Italians, Moors, Africans, Portuguese, Brazilian, Indonesians and Castellanos) in three years was not only a memorable milestone to be written in history books, but also constituted the enshrinement of the first universal route used for centuries. Even today, the memory of this shared historical unique endeavour is still alive in the different populations that took part in it or were touched by it. It can be seen in many events and occasions of sociological, educational and ritual nature: schools and universities in the south of Chile whose names and values are honouring Ferdinand Magellan; festivities taking place in Cebu City (Philippines) in tribute to the relic of “el Santo Niño”, a small sculpture that Magellan gave to Humabón's wife; social and political strategies made in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, as well as in Spain and Portugal, where traditions and Magellan values are enhanced to foster sustainable development projects.

Criterion (vi): The Magellan Route has played a key role in making the world understandable as it is today. The route was used for several reasons: the goal of Spaniards was expanding their territory in America and Asia; British wanted to achieve scientific knowledge - that was, for instance, the case of Charles Darwin, but it was not the same reason that moved Sir Francis Drake, who wanted to oppose the Spanish Empire by establishing strategic enclaves in various places. Many other explorers merchants, military leaders and settlers wished to find new places where to live and develop new societies. At the same time, the singularity of this route can be seen and is reflected upon important publications such as chronicles and annals that for over five hundred years have shown its universal singularity. Antonio Pigafetta’s report: Il Primo Viaggio intorno al Mondo (The First Trip Around the World), for example, is a prodigious book and a true literary monument of ethnographical testimony. It is probably the first global book in history that described the Magellan voyage, but it is also an extraordinary record of traditions, customs and cultural and linguistic features of populations all over the world that were unknown until that moment. To this first literary source produced by one of the main characters of the trip, we may add many others books of historical, scientific, biography and literary character, written by eminent historians, philosophers, moralists and scholars of all times, who have coincided in considering the Magellan trip one of the most exceptional occurrences of all history.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Magellan Route is a global set of paths across the seas, continents, islands and even stars of all over the world. This route completes the star map of Earth thanks to the description of stars and constellations in the southern hemisphere. For example, the Clouds of Magellan and the Southern Cross were incorporated at that time, and became since then the Polar Star for seafarers in all navigations of the Antarctic Hemisphere. The route is perfectly described in hundreds of maps, chronicles and scientific literature over the last five centuries - documents that we can find in Archivo de Indias in Seville, Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo in Lisboa, Museo Naval in Madrid, Museu da Marinha in Lisboa, etc. It is not only a geographical trail (14.460 leagues/85.000km), since it has had a very high commercial, strategic and cultural value that linked many populations of the planet. It is a perfect symbiosis between nature and culture: the Magellan Route reflects its authenticity in natural items (waterways, mountains, bays, straits, cliffs, rivers, estuary, pampas and woodlands), most of them with names related with the First Voyage Around the World, and also with cultural reminiscences that manifest indelible marks (monuments, buildings, landscapes, chronicles, maps...). Undoubtedly, the most distinctive feature is established thanks to the outstanding collective memory that ensures the integrity that is still alive in the places along the Magellan Route. This is probably the main richness, which ensures the integrity of the route. Moreover, there is a clear willingness by many communities to develop innovative plans to make use of a possible transboundary site as a source of shared values of identity.

Comparison with other similar properties

The proposal of the Magellan Route, First Around the World to the Tentative List is based on the unquestioned exceptionality of its universal value (material and intangible, real and symbolic). This route was created thanks to the combination of Magellan individual genius with the common efforts of the people who struggled to overcome the lack of knowledge about oceans and other continents. Afterwards and for some centuries, it became the first global route providing all sorts of exchanges. So that, the process can be repeated in the future: it can be turned into the only global route that promote universal values as it is peace, environmental sustainability and solidarity from a participative perspective (based in the UNESCO Roads of Dialogue concept) where the involvement of all populations and cultures alive along the route is required. It will contribute to promote the very rich and diverse world memory. In this context, the Magellan Route can be compared with other transboundary properties already inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List such as the Chinese Section of the Silk Road, the Qhapaq Ñan Andean Road System, the Struve Geodetic Arc, the Astronomical Observatories of Ukraine and the Liberation Heritage Route.