Lagos, in the Algarve, was the harbour from which Prince Henry the Navigator’s maritime explorers set off in the early 1400s to discover the unknown world. Portuguese sailors were at the vanguard of this European Age of Discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries, finding and mapping the coasts of Africa, Asia and Brazil.
Organised expeditions started in 1419 along West Africa’s coast, reaching the Cape of Good Hope and entering the Indian Ocean in 1488. Ten years later, Vasco da Gama led the first fleet around Africa to India, arriving in Calicut and starting a maritime route from Portugal to India. Soon, after reaching Brazil, explorations followed to southeast Asia and reached Japan in 1542.
The figures on the roof of 17th century Fort of Ponta da Bandeira which guarded the harbour entrance in Lagos seem bizarre to the modern visitor, out of keeping with the fort and certainly with the 1400s of Henry the Navigator.
Their strange figures driving even stranger craft startle us. Perhaps they’re challenging us to look back at exploration in a different way and to think forward creatively, to explore with our minds into the future.
Have you experienced this type of creative link?