In the late 15th century into the 16th century, Europeans from several countries traveled the globe in search of new trading routes. Spain had several explorers who came to the North American continent. Hernan Cortes made many discoveries in Mexico, and Francisco Vazquez de Coronado became well known for his stories about the seven cities of gold. The first explorer to set foot in what is now known as California was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. Questions have risen regarding whether Cabrillo was Portuguese or Spanish. In one biography, it is said he was probably born in Seville, Spain. In either case, his history is important to our history.

Get out on the water and celebrate as well.  We provide a variety of tours on luxury yachts for various size groups.

Juan Cabrillo Lands in San Diego

After setting sail in his three ships: the San Salvador, the La Victoria, and the San Miguel sailing under the Spanish flag, he entered an area where no Spanish ships had been before in September of 1542. On the 28th of September, he landed in what is now San Diego Bay and named it San Miguel.

In San Diego, the Cabrillo National Monument has been created commemorating his first landing in California. The monument features a statue of Cabrillo, a plaque honoring him, and a museum that highlights him and his voyages.

Cabrillo Festival in San Diego

Also commemorating the explorer, San Diego holds The Cabrillo Festival every year that features food booths with Mexican, Native American, Portuguese, and Spanish food. Other booths showcase many different artistic items, and historic information about the time period. Activities include colorful dances educational activities, cultural demonstrations, and folkloric performances.

The highlight of the Festival is the re-enactment of Cabrillo’s landing on the shores of San Diego Bay. Cabrillo, his soldiers, and a priest sail into the bay on the San Salvador (represented by the ship Californian), and once again claim the land for Spain. In 2015 the Port of San Diego plans to have a replica of the San Salvador ready to participate in the festival. This is a great video describing the project.

The 2014 celebration is coming up very soon. The Cabrillo Festival website lists the schedule for this year’s activities:

Commemorative Ceremony and Wreath Laying honoring Cabrillo will be at the Cabrillo National Monument. The keynote address speaker will be a dignitary from Portugal.

Cabrillo Festival Discovery Celebration Dinner-Dance, S.E.S. Hall, 2818 Avenida de Portugal, Point Loma. No host cocktails- 6:00 PM; Dinner- 7:30 PM followed by dancing. $50.00 per person. Sponsored by Cabrillo Civic Club #16 of San Diego and Portuguese American Social and Civic Club. To purchase tickets, call 619-426-0769 or 619-221-8084.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER. 28, 11:00 AM — 4:00
Cabrillo Festival at Ballast Point, Naval Base Point Loma, south end of Rosecrans Street. FREE ADMISSION. There will be music, dancing, children’s activities and foods of Native Americans, Mexico, Portugal and Spain. There will be Kumeyaay basket making, knot tying and a 16th Century Spanish soldiers living history encampment. Re-enactment of Cabrillo’s landing on Ballast Point begins at 1:00 PM.

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