The celebration

The first circumnavigation was a feat that had immediate repercussions in many spheres: trade, communications, botany and zoology, cartography, the very confirmation that the earth was spherical and not just round. As Carlos Martínez Shaw states in his article ‘After Elcano. Repercussions of the first circumnavigation’, which can be found on this website: ‘The first voyage around the world was the key piece, or even beyond that, the keystone, such that today we may speak of a first globalisation.’

In his letter to King Carlos I giving an account of the voyage and asking him to intercede to obtain the release of the sailors who had been taken prisoner by the Portuguese in Cape Verde, Juan Sebastián Elcano writes: ‘Your Majesty will know better [than anyone] that what we most ought to value and fear is that we have discovered and sailed the entire roundness of the world, departing to the West and returning from the East.’ Enough said.

To pay tribute to this event as it deserves, a National Committee has been created within the General Administration of the State, with various bodies under it – Executive Committee,
Technical Committee, Project Evaluation Committee and the Committee for the commemoration of the departure of the expedition – which may be joined by others created over the long course of this celebration. Members include various government bodies and organisations that represent the territories or activities most closely linked to this expedition, and which in some cases have been working on and preparing their celebrations for years.

The backbone of the commemoration will be the activities programme, which is a living element. The voyage lasted from 1519 to 1522, and its 500th anniversary will be equally long. During these years, more activities will be added, and details will be finalised for those which already appear in the programme but are only plans at this point. There are a wide range:
academic, musical, theatre and opera, audiovisual and museum activities, as well as publications. And it will come as no surprise that there are also nautical activities, both commemorative and sporting, including, of course, several around-the-world voyages.

Collectible coins will also be minted, at a rate of one per year from 2019 to 2022. And stamps commemorating the feat will be issued, along with national and ONCE lottery tickets.

The National Committee for the Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano Expedition of the First Voyage around the World is created and regulated by Royal Decree 582/2017, of 12 June, and is considered an event of special public interest (for the purposes of the provisions set forth in article 27 of Act 49/2002,
of 23 December, on the tax regime of non-profit organisations and of tax incentives for patronage). The support programme for this event will run from 8th May 2017 to 7th May 2020.

The manual for partner companies is a document that consolidates all of the information relating to the support programme, to assist persons and firms interested in applying, including application forms.
To contact the secretary’s office for the National Committee, please write to