Famous Explorers

Famous explorers are the reason that we more or less know what lies in every corner of the globe today.

From early pioneering travellers like Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan and Marco Polo, who brought invaluable information about the Americas and Asia back to the European continent in a time when most thought the world was flat, to more recent adventurers like Ernest Shackleton, Nellie Bly and Edmund Hillary, so much of our present-day knowledge derives from the work of famous explorers.

In our new look at these adventurers and innovators on Mpora, we will be delving deeper into the people who took these journeys, looking at exactly what they are known for, exploring the myths and uncertainties around them, and studying the positive and negative effects they left behind.

In the meantime, here is just a short introduction to some of the most important explorers to ever walk, sail and navigate the Earth:

Marco Polo

Marco Polo remains one of the most famous explorers of all time.

Date of birth and death: Marco Polo was born in 1254 in Venice, Italy.

Place and date of death: Marco Polo died on 8 January 1324 in Venice, Italy.

What is Marco Polo Famous For? Marco Polo was one of the first explorers to travel the Silk Road, travel around Asia and visit China, where he found favour with the ruling Kublai Khan, in the Middle Ages. Crucially, he was also the first explorer to return to Europe afterwards and document the experience.

Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama in front of the map he traced.

Date of birth and death: Vasco da Gama was born in either 1460 or 1469 in Sines, Portugal, depending on which archives you believe.

Place and date of death: Vasco da Gama died on 24 December 1524 in Kochi, India.

What is Vasco de Gama Famous For? Vasco da Gama was the first person to ever successfully sail from Europe to India, leaving Calicut on 29 August 1498. The explorer was commissioned by the king of Portugal to find a maritime route to the East, and the success of his journey proved highly influential in the years that followed.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus, in portrait.

Date of birth and death: Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in Genoa, Italy.

Place and date of death: Christopher Columbus died on 20 May 1506 in Valladolid, Spain.

What is Christopher Columbus Famous For? The common misconception is that Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover America in 1492. Actually, Vikings – in particular Leif Eriksson – had landed there hundreds of years previously, but Columbus believed he had discovered America – and his journey is particularly important for beginning regular contact between Europe and America.