Spain also stood out in the maritime conquests of this period, becoming, next to Portugal, a great power.
While the Portuguese sailed to the Indies around Africa, the Spaniards opted for another route. Spain-funded Genoese Christopher Columbus intended to reach the Indies by sailing west. In 1492, the Spanish caravels Santa Maria, Pinta, and Niña sailed eastward across the Atlantic Ocean.
Columbus knew that our planet was round, but was unaware of the existence of the American continent. He arrived on October 12, 1492 on the islands of Central America, unaware that he had reached a new continent. It was only years later that navigator Amerigo Vespucci identified those lands as a continent not yet known to Europeans. In contact with the Indians of America (Mayan, Inca and Aztec) (link), the Spanish began a process of exploitation of these peoples, interested in the large amount of gold. In addition to removing the wealth of the Native Americans, the Spanish destroyed their cultures.