Famous Spanish Explorers

A discussion on famous explorers in history would be incomplete without information on famous Spanish explorers. Some of greatest explorations in history were made by these brave explorers and conquistadors who sailed for Spain. What you will find on this page is a list of some of the main motives that drove these great explorers to take the great risk involved with their voyages. This is followed by a list and short description of a few of these great Spanish explorers and where they traveled. Some of the names listed here will be familiar to every kid from school history lessons and some you may never have heard of.

In the late 1400s Spain was poised to become one of the greatest empires the world had ever seen. With the marriage of Princess Isabella of Castile to Ferdinand of Aragon political unity was brought to Spain ending years of internal strife. Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V of Spain formed a powerful empire. In 1492 they financed voyage of Christopher Columbus which resulted in the discovery of America. This discovery set off a frenzy of Spanish exploration and conquest which would result in Spain’s dominance in the New World.

Famous Spanish Explorers Main Motives

Famous Spanish Explorers List and Description

Some of the explorers listed below were not citizens of Spain; however all explored for Spain and their journeys were financed by Spain. Many of the famous Spanish explorers are referred to as conquistadors (a leader in the 16th century Spanish conquest of Native American Indians)

Christopher Columbus

Although not the first European to land in America (Leif Ericson can take credit for that) his accidental landing in America in 1492 opened up the New World for an influx of European exploration.

Amerigo Vespucci

Between 1497 and 1504 this Italian born early explorer made several voyages to South America and Central America. Amerigo Vespucci was the first person to suggest that the new lands Columbus had discovered were not part of Asia but rather a "New World". For this revelation the "New World" was named after him "America".

Ferdinand Magellan

In 1519 Ferdinand Magellan led the first voyage around the world; an amazing accomplishment for that time. Although he led the voyage he did not complete it; he was killed by natives in the Philippine islands. Most of his crew also died along the way before only one ship out of the five that started circled the world.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado

This great explorer explored what is now the southwest United States. He also was made governor of the Spanish colony New Galacia.

Vasco Nunez de Balboa

Vasco Nunez de Balboa was a great explorer (conquistador) who is best known for discovering the Pacific coast of the Americas; which he promptly claimed all of its shores belonged to Spain.

List of other Famous Spanish Explorers