"Prester John" Port Elizabeth by jorgejuansanchez

Port Elizabeth Travel Guide: 91 reviews and 166 photos

Port Elizabeth is a great town of about 1 million inhabitants. I only spent one day and one night there, what I considered enough, visiting the main tourists? attractions, like the Donkin Lighthouse and nice monuments and cafeterias around, all located on a hill overlooking the port.
But the reason why I travelled to Port Elizabeth, by bus from Cape Town, was to see in situ a Portuguese monument devoted to the Portuguese explorers in search of Prester John, in Abyssinia (the Portuguese traveler Perõ da Covilhã would find him after another of his exploits, in which he managed to enter illegally in La Mecca and Medina. The Prester was in fact the Ethiopian Emperor, whom Perõ met, but did not allow him to go back to Portugal and Perõ died in Ethiopia, in 1526).
I asked the local people for that monument and they helped me to find it. It was located in Port Elizabeth downtown. It consisted in a great cross with a two Portuguese navigators in the middle and the phase written:

?In memory of the Portuguese explorers searching for Prester John?

Portuguese Government takes care of his explores and in many parts of Africa you can see a Pedrão, o stone erected by the old Portuguese navigators around the African coast.
Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama were in that area facing today?s Port Elizabeth (in Algoa Bay) at the end of the XV century.
Portuguese traveler?s exploits in Africa are ignored. Everybody knows Livingstone, Stanley, Speke, Richard Burton and the like, all English. But Portuguese were the first explorers in Africa. Portuguese were the first European travelers to admire Victoria Falls (and not Livingstone). Portuguese were the first Europeans to cross Africa overland from West to East, and so many other discoveries wrongly attributed to Englishmen who arrived to Africa several centuries later than the Portuguese.
After Port Elizabeth I traveled by train to Johannesburg, and then by bus to Limpopo.

  • Last visit to Port Elizabeth: Sep 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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