Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Diaz Cross lost for 500 years

The history of this monument stretches over 500 years from 1488 when the intrepid Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias erected a Cross or Padrao on a promontory known as Kwaaihoek, in the district of Alexandria. The planting of this padrão was in all probably a tense and rushed affair as against the wishes and desires of Dias, in a regrettable turn of events, the caravel’s crew had mutineered and demanded to turn back for home. Yet even in this tense atmosphere, Dias had to perform a singularly important ceremony: the planting of a cross which signified Portuguese hegemony over the land. This was a sacred imperial duty which compelled him to continue with his duty however rushed.

In the intervening centuries, knowledge and the physical location of the monument was lost.

This is the story of its recovery and a duplicate being made.

Main picture: The Diaz Cross in the elegant Mayor’s Garden

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The First Account of Algoa Bay – A Journey too Far

The fact that Bartholomew Diaz, a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household and explorer, sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, reaching the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic, would  reverberate for centuries to come. At the very least, the coastline should have been documented but it took 87 years for this to occur.

This is the narrative of Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo’s 1575 voyage at the behest of the Portuguese king, Dom Sebastian. 

Main picture: 1575 map of Southern African coastline from Cape of Good Hope to Inhambane

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