October 12: the discovery of America… or was it?

Monument to the discoverer of the Americas in Huelva. / AM SAANDERS

This Wednesday, countries around the world mark the 530th anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus on a Caribbean island, but some stories place Europeans in the Americas before that date.

Some 530 years have passed since the events that forever changed life on both sides of the Atlantic. On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on an island in the Caribbean, marking the end of what is now called the pre-Columbian era in the Americas.

However, there are many stories of sailors who reached the American islands from Europe, perhaps hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus landed in the New World.

A research team from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands has suggested an exact date last year for the discovery of the Americas by the Vikings. They found the year 1021 after analyzing the tree rings of a piece of wood found at Lance at the Meadows, an ancient ruin on the island of Newfoundland, Canada.

The year 1021 has been suggested as the date of the discovery of the Americas by the Vikings

A never-ending dedication to exploration and wealth drove the Norse to far-flung places. It seems that they have even reached Andalusia, at least according to the popular Netflix series Vikings in which, incidentally, Greenland and North America were discovered by Floki, a neurotic character.

He may well be fictional, however, because according to Norse legend, it was the great sailor Leif Erikson, who achieved something very similar. It is said that his father, Erik the Red, founded the first settlement in Greenland, around 980, and Leif Erikson eventually landed in America.

John Cabot’s later 1497 voyage to the coast of North America under the commission of Henry VII of England is the earliest known European exploration of the coast of North America since the Norsemen visits.

Claim to be the first

Despite the apparent voyages of the Vikings, Christopher Columbus has long been credited with being the first European to reach the Americas in 1492. But fame for the discovery was sought after by other countries, including Britain.

The Welsh prince, Madoc ab Owain Gwynedd, is believed to have sailed to America in 1170 when, according to folklore, he was fleeing domestic violence at home. Meanwhile, Scotland claims Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, Lord of Roslin, as discoverer of the Americas, or rather that he reached Westford, Massachusetts, via Greenland, in 1398. Surprisingly, the English did not never claimed the discovery.

The Andalusians were the first…

Stories of the Andalusians’ discovery of America have also circulated over the years. In 1602, Inca chronicler and writer Garcilaso de la Vega named Huelva-born Alonso Sánchez as discoverer, claiming that his small team had landed on the American islands 20 years before Christopher Columbus.

In 1602, the Inca chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega claimed that Alonso Sánchez, born in Huelva, had landed on the American islands 20 years before Christopher Columbus.

The columnist told the whole story of this incredible journey. According to Garcilaso, Alonso Sánchez was a 15th-century sailor and merchant. Living on the Atlantic coast of Andalusia, he quite often sailed between the Canary Islands, Madeira and England for trade. In the 1480s, on his return to Huelva from Madeira, his ship was apparently blown dramatically southwest by a strong storm.

After several weeks, according to Garcilaso’s story, Sánchez and his frightened crew finally sighted land in uncharted mid-Atlantic waters, probably the island of Hispaniola (Santo Domingo). Sánchez and his crew continued along the unknown coast until they encountered signs of human habitation. In a coastal village, they were hospitably received (with food and gold) as “godlike” because, according to Aboriginal myth, their gods would eventually come from the sea to visit them.

After a short stay with the natives, the Spaniards returned home, to the east. The return trip took about a month at sea, and they finally landed on the island of Porto Santo, Madeira. Coincidentally, in the 1480s, Christopher Columbus was living in Porto Santo. According to the chronicler, he met Alonso Sánchez and was amazed by his adventure.

Some believe that the information provided by Alonso Sánchez regarding directions and distances influenced Columbus’s plans, although others believe that Alonso Sánchez never existed.

Some believe that information provided by Sánchez regarding directions and distances influenced Columbus’s plans, although others believe that Alonso Sánchez never existed. However, there is a statue of Sánchez in Huelva, in the park of Los Jardines del Muelle which commemorates the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Moreover, there is an opinion that Andalusian sailors already knew about the existence of the Americas, and that is why they readily agreed to sail with Columbus from Huelva in 1492.

A unique collection

Columbus landed in the Bahamas, marking the end of the period of human habitation in the Americas now called the Pre-Columbian Era.

At the Benalmádena Museum. /


Benalmádena on the Costa del Sol has a unique collection of visual arts from the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, North, Central and South America from at least 13,000 BCE to European conquests. The Museo de Arte Precolombino Felipe Orlando was opened to the public in 1970.

Felipe Orlando García-Murciano’s collection of pre-Columbian art in Benalmádena is considered one of the most important outside Hispanic America

Felipe Orlando García-Murciano’s collection of pre-Columbian art is considered one of the most important outside of Latin America. It was brought together thanks to donations, loans and acquisitions from the town hall of Benalmádena.

The coins have their origin in several Latin American countries including Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru and Costa Rica. Three galleries of the museum host exhibits illustrating two main zones of civilization – Old Mexico (Mesoamerica) and Old Peru (Central Andes), as well as an intermediate zone that encompasses lower Central America and the northern region of the Andes. .

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