Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dias Statue in Cape Town

Bartholomew Dias was the first European to discover South Africa.  On an expedition looking for a sea way to the East he sailed around the Cape in a storm without knowing it.  On 3 February 1488 he landed in Mossel Bay which he called the Bay of Saint Blaise.  On 12 March they reached the furthest point of the expedition when he anchored at Kwaaihoek near the Bushmans River mouth.  It was here that Dias planted a stone cross (padrao) before being forced to turn around when his crew refused to go any further.  It was only on the return journey that Dias discovered the Cape of Good Hope.  Dias originally named the Cape of Good Hope the "Cape of Storms".  It was later renamed the Cape of Good Hope by King John II of Portugal because it represented the opening of a route to the east.
 
The discovery of the passage around the south of Africa was significant because Europeans realized for the first time that they could trade directly with India and the other parts of Asia, bypassing the overland route through the Middle East with its expensive middlemen.
 
Dias later joined  an expedition that reached the coast of Brazil in 1500 and from there continued eastwards to India.  The four ships hit a huge storm off the Cape of Good Hope which meant Dias perished near the same place he called the Cape of Storms.
 
The statue of Dias on Adderley Street in Cape Town was unveiled in 1960.

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