Replica of the Matthew – Bristol, England - Atlas Obscura

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Replica of the Matthew

An authentic, seaworthy replica of the ship that sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. 


In an English harbor sits this replica of the Matthew, a ship that sailed from Ireland to Newfoundland in 1497 under Venetian explorer Giovanni Caboto, better known by the Anglicized name John Cabot. Though it is a recreation of the original, this replica is seaworthy and has shown itself to be capable of crossing the Atlantic.

Christopher Columbus has reached the Bahamas in 1492, but Cabot was the first modern European explorer to reach the North American mainland. (Vikings are known to have traveled to Vineland centuries earlier, and Cabot is thought to have known about both this and Columbus’ voyage.) Cabot sailed under letters patent issued by Henry VII of England and the English claimed the right to adopt him as an Englishman.

In 1994 construction on a replica of Matthew began in a shipyard in Bristol. The replica measures 78 feet long, and is a faithful recreation of a 15th-century caravel of the era. The ship cost $3.8 million and took two years to build.

A year after the replica Matthew was dedicated, a crew recreated Cabot’s original journey from Bristol to Newfoundland in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s voyage. She landed at the port of Bonavista on June 24, 1997. Currently, the recreated Matthew can be found in Bristol, outside the M Shed museum. Bristol is the port where, with the support of Henry VII, Cabot started his historic voyage.

Know Before You Go

The trust which owns the ship offers a range of different trips but times vary. Check out their website for details.

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