While the Portuguese were trying to reach the East by an all-water route around Africa, the Spanish, who also were eager to obtain valuable commerce, tried to reach the East by going west. First among the adventurers who sailed in the name of Spain was Christopher Columbus, a Genoese, who was born probably in the year 1451.
He lived with his parents in Genoa, on the Mediterranean, where he early acquired a love for the sea and became interested in the study of geography and in exploration, which especially appealed to his courageous, romantic, and adventurous nature. He was tall, gray-haired, proud, enthusiastic, and persistent. Since he lived in the period of the Renaissance, he was touched by its awakening spirit. He longed for the wealth of the East and had a determination to reach that land of plenty.
He maintained that the world is round and that the East could be reached by sailing west. This belief was not original with him, and his ideas were no more advanced than those of other geographers and scientists of his day, but he had the courage and enthusiasm to put his ideas to the test. There is some doubt as to whether Columbus was interested merely in reaching the wealth of the Indies, or whether he set out also in search of new lands. He probably had both in mind, but the main purpose of his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean was to reach the eastern coast of Asia.