Boa Esperança – a floating museum

caravel Boa Esperança at sea

During the Age of Discovery, early 15th century to early 17th century, the Portuguese were maritime giants.

The vessels they used during this time are known as caravels, small manoeuvrable sailing ships that replaced those used previously; barcas (barges) and barinels (small sailing ships).

Until the Age of Discovery, Europeans were limited to coastal navigation, but this all changed with the development of the caravel. 

Their design was based on fishing boats. They had 1 to 3 masts and had a capacity to tack which meant the ship could navigate more quickly and not rely so heavily on the direction of the wind.

Completed in 1990 and bought in 2001 by the Algarve Tourist Board, the replica ship offered insight to those travelling on her into seafarers lives during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Named after the Cape of Good Hope that Bartolomeu Dias navigated in 1488, the caravel Boa Esperança is now undergoing substantial restoration of its hull and deck, with an expected four or five months out of the water. All made possible through local and international sponsorship.

Usually moored in Lagos, Boa Esperança has travelled around Europe and the Mediterranean and has been seen at many regattas. It has also hosted documentaries and films. 

Once renovated, Boa Esperança will be moored in Lagos’ harbour and become a stationary interpretive centre.

Algarve has so much to see if you are interested in history. Check out the regions’ coastal defenses here. Or perhaps you are more interested in what the Romans were doing in the region, click here if so.

Photo: Região Turismo do Algarve

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