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Detail of the Monument to the Portuguese Discoveries, in Lisbon, showing a padrão being raised by the navigators Bartolomeu Dias, Diogo Cão and António Abreu

A padrão (Portuguese pronunciation: [pɐˈðɾɐ̃w̃], standard; plural: padrões) was a large stone cross inscribed with the coat of arms of Portugal that was placed as part of a land claim by numerous Portuguese explorers during the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

These items were particularly well known for being destroyed by natives who were upset with the religion of Christianity, the economy of slavery, or a combination of these two.


Notable explorers known to have erected padrões were Diogo Cão, Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, and Jorge Álvares.

Even though it is in the form of a cross, the padrão was often erected side-by-side with a plain, decorationless cross.[1]

The Lisbon Geographic Society managed to restore in the 20th century three padrões erected by Diogo Cão and one by Bartolomeu Dias.

At the Dias Cross Memorial on the coast of South Africa's Eastern Cape province, there is a padrão replica on a spectacular outcrop (False Island – Kwaaihoek in Afrikaans, meaning "Nasty corner"); it marks the site of Dias' most easterly landfall, after becoming the first European navigator to round the Cape of Good Hope. The original padrão was discovered by Arthur Axelson in the 1930s – it had fallen, or was pushed, off the top of Kwaaihoek, and was in pieces in the gullies below. Axelson recovered these pieces and was able to reconstruct the padrão; the reconstructed original now stands in the William Cullen Library of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Indonesia National Museum hosts the Luso Sundanese padrão erected by Henrique Leme in 1522 in Sunda Kalapa port (present day Tugu, sub-district of Jakarta, Indonesia).


  1. ^ Reader, John (1997). Africa: Biography of a Continent. Vintage Books. p. 356. 

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