In April of the year 1500, a fleet of Portuguese caravels arrived at the coast of Bahia, in Brazil. Three years later, another Portuguese expedition erected a short stone monument in what is now the city of Porto Seguro, laying claim to the land that until then was occupied by Indigenous tribes, and marking the official beginning of Portugal’s colonization of Brazil.
This landmark can be still seen today in Porto Seguro’s historic center, at the top of a hill overlooking the coast, surrounded by colonial houses, churches, and a lighthouse. It is sculpted on one side with a cross from the Military Order of Aviz, and on the other with Portugal’s coat of arms.
While some sources claim this landmark wasn’t raised until 1526, others claim it’s the oldest surviving monument in Brazil. Regardless of the exact date, this is a very early marker of Portugal’s presence in what is now Brazil, and symbolizes the beginning of a colonial process that would change the history of both countries forever.