It is believed that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was born in Spain in 1499. As a young man, Cabrillo left Europe to stop Hernando Cortes from gaining too much power. But Cabrillo decided to join Cortes instead. Cabrillo helped Cortes defeat the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City). The viceroy (governor) of New Spain sent Cabrillo to find a land of great wealth and a water passage across North and South America . Cabrillo left Navidad, Mexico on June 27th, 1542 and explored San Diego Bay, San Clemente Island, Santa Catalina Island, the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, and possibly Point Reyes. Cabrillo is credited for being the first European to land in Alta California and to chart (make maps of) the California coast. He claimed Alta California for Spain. Cabrillo National Monument is located at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego Bay. It is an amazing tribute to Cabrillo's discovery. I visited the monument in June 2012. It was a remarkable experience that I wanted to share.
Cabrillo National Monument was created in 1913 to commemorate the first Spanish expedition to San Diego and the first known landing of a European on the West Coast of the present-day United States. Cabrillo is overlooking San Diego Harbor and holding navigational instruments. The statue is 14 feet tall.
"In homage to the Spanish expedition composed of the ships SAN SALVADOR, VICTORIA and SAN MIGUEL that arrived at San Diego on 26th September 1542 under the command of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who took possession of these lands on behalf of His Catholic Majesty CHARLES I King of Spain opening the maritime route that led to the subsequent development of California. The Spanish Navy September 28, 2003"