Cabral Yard near Aspinwall House in Fort Kochi is a piece of land in memory of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the first Portuguese sailor to Kochi in 1500. Cabral Yard is one of the venues of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale at present.
It was the age of discoveries and Cabral was one of many adventurous sailors commissioned by the Portuguese king to discover new lands. Cabral’s mission was to reach Kerala, the land of spices, and establish trade and administrative relationships. From Lisbon following Vasco da Gama’s newly explored route around Africa in 1498, Cabral reached Calicut on 13th September 1500 where he got a hostile reception from the Arab traders who had a monopoly on the overseas trade with Kerala. The Zamorin or the King of Calicut refused to be friendly with Cabral.
From Calicut, Cabral and his fleet reached Kochi. He was welcomed by the King of Kochi who was an arch-rival of the Zamorin of Calicut. A treaty was drafted between Cabral and the King of Kochi wherein the latter gave consent to the Portuguese to establish their base in Kochi. The Portuguese were allowed to establish their factory for spice trade in Kochi. The King of Kochi found a strong ally in the Portuguese in his war against the Zamorin of Calicut.
Historians say that Cabral was allowed to live on the premises of the palace of the King of Kochi. Cabral’s friendly relationship was the beginning of Kochi’s historical relationship with the Portuguese. Kochi became the first European colonial settlement with a Portuguese fort in India. Until 1662, when the Portuguese were defeated by the Dutch, the Portuguese remained in control of the area now identified as Fort Kochi. Cabral has also been marked as the first European navigator to reach the shores of the country now known as Brazil.