Our story spreads across the universe

"Magellan's Odyssey": "Universum History" tells the spectacular story of the first historically documented circumnavigation of the world

In “Pioneer of the Oceans” on April 30th at 10:35 pm on ORF 2

Vienna (OTS) - It was one of the greatest adventures in seafaring history and came to an inglorious end 500 years ago in what is now the Philippines. In 1519, the Portuguese captain Ferdinand Magellan and his men set sail west on behalf of the Spanish crown. Your goal: the sea route to the Moluccas, the legendary spice islands in the Pacific Ocean. But the company turns into an odyssey, Magellan reaches South America, the Pacific and East Asia, but dies fighting with islanders. The new “Universum History” documentary “Pioneer of the Oceans - Magellan's Odyssey” by Hannes Schuler (ORF processing: Ronja Scherzinger) tells the spectacular story of the on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 10:35 p.m. on ORF 2 with extensive re-enactments first historically documented circumnavigation of the world.

April 1521: Surrounded by terrifying fighters, the Spaniard stumbles into the spray - the warriors are already rushing on him and mercilessly chasing their spears into his body. It is the inglorious end of a pioneer who grossly overestimated himself and thus not only drove himself, but also most of his team to their death. Ferdinand Magellan has nevertheless secured his place in history: He discovered the sea route between the Pacific and Atlantic at the lowest point of South America, which was named after him - the Strait of Magellan. And although he did not complete the gigantic expedition himself, he and the company provided proof that the earth is a sphere and not a disk, and thus gave the impetus for a completely new view of our planet.

Two years earlier, in September 1519, the ambitious undertaking began in the port of Seville. The Portuguese navigator Magellan and his men want to get to the legendary spice islands, the Moluccas, by a western sea route. The experienced seaman Juan Sebastián Elcano from the Basque Country is also on board. It is on whom the final success of the expedition will ultimately depend. The expedition becomes an odyssey with grave consequences - both for Magellan's crew and for the locals they meet along the way. Right from the start, tensions were in the air between the Portuguese captain and his predominantly Spanish team. The secrecy of his plans and serious wrong decisions intensify the conflict, which ultimately culminates in a mutiny. Only after more than a year at sea does Magellan finally manage to locate the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean between Tierra del Fuego and the southern tip of South America. But the euphoria only lasts for a short time: Magellan assumes that the Spice Islands are now only a few weeks away. Instead of replenishing supplies, he sails on. A fatal decision: around 20,000 nautical miles separate the sailors from the Moluccas, the destination of their dreams. Magellan's miscalculation of the geographical location of the Moluccas cost many lives, and the Pacific became a mass grave for his crew.

In March 1521 a decimated and emaciated ship crew finally reached the Philippines. There Magellan interfered in local conflicts - a serious mistake that finally cost him his life on April 27, 1521. Juan Sebastián Elcano takes command and sails further west, laden with valuable spices. In September 1522, almost three years after the start of the expedition and numerous complications, he finally reached the Spanish port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The circumnavigation of the world, which began under the command of Ferdinand Magellan and was completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano, shows that the earth is a sphere. Spectacular re-enactments today show almost unimaginable dimensions of a journey that should not only change the lives of seafarers, but also the view of all humanity on earth.

Inquiries & contact: