European Heritage Days

Journées européennes du patrimoine
Citizens Come Together to Mark Heritage and Identity of Sanlucar

In 1519 the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda said farewell to five ships that intended to find the first route to circumnavigate the world. Within this year’s European Heritage Days celebrating heritage communities, the citizens of Sanlúcar want to remember this pan-European initiative, directly driven by the Emperor Charles V and the participation of private entrepreneurs like Christopher de Haro, who was the true promoter of the trip and supporter of its captain, Ferdinand Magellan.

The expedition was not only the first circumnavigation, but also the first positive proof that the world was round, opening thus new trade routes, thanks to the discovery of the passage of Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia, which changed world trade completely for the next centuries.

This pan-European project counted with Portuguese, as the same Magellan, Spaniards, as Elcano, who completed the feat after Magellan’s death and Italian, as the chronicler of the expedition, Antonio Pigafetta. This latter raised enormous interest in the European courts of the time, thanks to his Chronicles sent to the kings of Portugal and England, the regent of France, the Pope and the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, converting the expedition in the first globalisation episode of the world.

Sanlúcar became the "cosmodrome" of Modern Times and changed forever its life rhythm, becoming a cosmopolitan city, with presence of English, French, Italian and Flemish, attracted by the possibilities of trade with the New World.

This would mark the city with monuments and leave, until today, its heritage trail: civil and military palaces, castles and, especially, churches and monasteries, because Sanlúcar was the embarkation point of missionaries who sailed from here to their destinations in America and Asia.

Multiculturalism left also traces in the sanluqueños’ names and physical appearance, with many examples of blondes, redheads and light-eyed people, pointing the trail of a different genetic load than the classic Mediterranean context and enriching their identity.

Sanlúcar wants to celebrate its EHD remembering the value of pan-European cooperation and the courage of the people who opened the Old World to the New one.

Courtesy of Ana Schoebel, European Heritage Days Coordinator in Spain