The Manila Galleon

When Marco Polo's stories began to flow all over Europe, the unknown lands of the Orient became an obsession for the Occident. These stories told about a huge trade route comprising as far as Northern China all the way to the Arabian Desert. Ever sin

When Marco Polo's stories began to flow all over Europe, the unknown lands of the Orient became an obsession for the Occident. These stories told about a huge trade route comprising as far as Northern China all the way to the Arabian Desert. Ever since, and until wars between Christians and Muslims made impossible for the caravans to go through, the Silk Road extended into a culture-thirsty Europe.

By those years Europeans looked out to the west with horror. No one knew, neither wanted to know what was farther than the Hercules Columns. However the desire of continuing the rich product trade, more than pure scientific curiosity, led some daring spirits to find the round side to a flat point of view. In search for Asia they found a greater world, thus the dream of connecting with the Silk Road through the west had to wait some more years to be accomplished.

In 1521 Cortez conquered the Aztec Empire and Magellan discovered the Philippine archipelago. Some time after, these two lands became the towers over which the Spanish commercial power stood. In the Philippines, the port of Manila was the gathering point of the Asian richness. Silks, woods, fabrics, spices and precious metals were shipped in Galleons which were known as Naos, and were set sail towards New Spain, to the port of Acapulco.

Once in Acapulco, the treasures were sent by land to the port of Veracruz where they were shipped again, along with the American products, to Havana and finally to Cadiz in Spain. This marine Silk Road and the cultural legacy it left is indelible: cock fights, Talavera ceramics and lacquer, silk shawls and famous China Poblana costume (the Mexican women's national dress) are live evidences of the Oriental presence in Mexico.

This great crossing took place from two to four times a year, and the fair that was held at the Naos arrival gave fame and prosperity to the port of Acapulco, so much that it was continuously attacked by pirates. San Diego Fort was built with the purpose of protecting the Naos at their arrival. Transformed into a modern museum, it proudly depicts how Acapulco was internationally known long before it became a beach resort, as an important link in a possible Worldwide Silk Road.