Photo: North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images
Spanish explorers and conquistadors traveled thousands of miles to seize lands for the crown of Spain. Juan Ponce de León, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Francisco Pizarro, Hernán Cortés, Hernando de Soto and Juan de Oñate were among the first Europeans to explore the New World.
While searching for the mythical fountain of youth, Juan Ponce de León founded the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico and landed on the mainland of North America, a region he dubbed “Florida.”
America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine navigator and explorer who played a prominent role in exploring the New World.
Explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca spent eight years in the Gulf region of present-day Texas and was treasurer to the Spanish expedition under de Narváez.
Spanish explorer and conquistador Francisco Pizarro helped Vasco Núñez de Balboa discover the Pacific Ocean, and after conquering Peru, founded its capital city, Lima.
Hernán Cortés was a Spanish conquistador who explored Central America, overthrew Montezuma and his vast Aztec empire and won Mexico for the crown of Spain.
The expedition team of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado discovered the Grand Canyon and many other famous landmarks.
Explorer and conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean.
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who participated in the conquests of Central America and Peru and discovered the Mississippi River.