Gaspar Portola: When A Name is More Than a Name
When it comes to the history of California, Monterey is sure to be part of the conversation. It’s home to one of the region’s oldest Native American tribes, it was California’s first capital and was once the center of its largest fishing industry. The area was founded and first settled by the famous explorer Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602, a full 18 years prior to the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. Vizcaino decided to name the region Monterey after his benefactor the Count of Monte Rey, but it remained in relative isolation and was a mere overnight stop along the El Camino Real until well into the next century.
As more and more Europeans began traveling the Mission Trail, Monterey, with its protected harbor and beautiful surroundings began to grow. It was not until 1770, however, that Spaniard Captain Don Gaspar de Portola, then a captain in King Carlos the Third’s army and another famous Californian, Father Junipero Serra, arrived and founded a city, which they would call, Monterey.
Fast forward to the bicentennial of the United States, when longtime friend and ally, His Majesty, King Juan Carlos I of Spain presented a life-size bronze sculpture of Captain de Portola to the City of Monterey as a gift. The sculpture, created by Fausto Blazquez, depicted Portola during the founding of Monterey.
The statue that was once located in the center of the Portola Plaza, will be relocated as part of the driveway redesign. Gaspar’s new location will be in the plaza near the entrance of Alvarado Mall. This new location will allow visitors to get up close to the sculpture, allowing all to read about Gaspar’s historical significance as well as allow for great photo opps!
Keep track of Gaspar’s journey via the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Central Coast Living Blog and follow where this coveted sculpture lands here in beautiful, historic, Monterey.