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Sailing off the edge of the world?

When the world was presumed to be flat, the rugged south-western tip of Portugal was believed to be the edge of the Earth. Determined to broaden Europe's horizons and spread Catholicism, the Portuguese Prince - Henry the Navigator - founded what was to become his famous School of Navigation in the small town of Sagres. The school taught mapmaking, shipbuilding, sailing, astronomy and mathematics, as well as languages and botany. Its distinguished list of alumni includes Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Cabral and Bartolomeu Dias. In 1476, a young Italian sailor washed ashore at Sagres after being shipwrecked by pirates. His name was Christopher Columbus and having honed his skills at the school, he went on to discover the New World.

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