Prince Henry The Navigator Monument

This is a historical site found in Malindi on the left side of the National Museum located along Uhuru road. The monument came to be after it was erected in honor of Prince Henry the Navigator as a memorial to mark 500 years since his death in 1460. The Vice Premier of Portugal unveiled it in October 1960. This monument is also called the Mast Pond or Sail Monument of Portugal.

In 1959, during the Malindi festival, the Portuguese Consul in Mombasa came up with the idea to put up a memorial to mark 500 years since the death of Prince Henry the Navigator and also to honor the Sultan of Malindi and Ahmed Ibn Majid, the Malindi pilot who navigated the flotilla of Vasco da Gama for the first time to India.

Prince Henry, born in 1394, was the third son of King Joao of Portugal. His mother was Queen Philippa of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt. Henry the Navigator was a staunch Catholic and had no interest in personal comfort and never married, but was at that time one of the richest men in Portugal.

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In 1418, he started the first school for Oceanic Navigation, with astronomical observatory and ship-building techniques. A new type of ship, the caravel, was one of the results. Sailors from Genoa, Venice, Germany, and Scandinavia arrived in Sagres, at the west coast of Portugal. In this school, people were trained in navigation, mapmaking, science, and shipbuilding. Though he never travelled, Prince Henry sent many expeditions down to West Africa. All ships had on their sail a big red cross of ‘The Order of Christ’. In the last years of his life, Prince Henry spent most of his time at the royal court, Sagres, and at the headquarters of the Order of Christ in Tomar.

There are other monuments with respect to Prince Henry around the world, namely,

  • Prince Henry the Navigator (statue), in Fall River, Massachusetts, United States
  • Statue of Prince Henry the Navigator, London, in Belgrave Square, London, England
  • Statue of Prince Henry the Navigator, Lisbon, in Belem, Lisbon, Portugal, as part of Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the Monument of the Discoveries.
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