Vasco da Gama was a renowned Portuguese explorer who played a significant role in the Age of Discovery. He is best known for his groundbreaking voyage from Europe to India in 1497-1499, which opened up a direct sea route from Europe to Asia.
Born in Sines, Portugal in 1469, Vasco da Gama was the third son of a nobleman. He was educated by Franciscan friars and later became a skilled navigator and sailor. In 1497, he was commissioned by King Manuel I of Portugal to lead an expedition to find a sea route to India. The goal of the expedition was to establish a direct trade link between Portugal and India, which was the hub of the lucrative spice trade at the time.
Vasco da Gama set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, with four ships and a crew of around 170 men. After a perilous journey around the Cape of Good Hope, he reached Calicut, India in May 1498. The journey was difficult, with many of his crew dying from scurvy and other diseases. However, Vasco da Gama's perseverance paid off, as he was able to establish trade relations with the local rulers and secure a valuable cargo of spices for his homeland.