The French writer Jules Verne devoted one of the chapters in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to the Bay of Vigo, which bolstered the legend of the treasure of Rande. The author’s popular character Captain Nemo, thanks to his equally famous submarine the Nautilus, was able to salvage the gold that had been lost underwater during the Battle of Rande and use it to pay for his adventures.
Verne actually visited Vigo some years after writing the novel, when he sought refuge from a storm in his beautiful 31-metre yacht, the Saint Michel III. He put into port on 1st June 1878 and, during the days he spent in the city, he received the warm appreciation of the locals for the publicity that his bestselling novel had given the bay of Vigo.
On his second visit, six years later, he came in search of technical assistance. This was given to him by a man from Vigo called Antonio Sanjurjo Badía, owner of the La Industriosa workshops located on el Arenal, where the yacht was repaired. There is no written evidence for the friendship he is attributed to have had with the author although, years later, he built a submarine that successfully descended into the depths of our bay. However, it is Antonio’s submarine itself - which you can still see today in the Museo do Mar de Galicia, that best illustrates Vigo’s capacity to turn dreams into reality.
We should also not forget that on the first centenary of the death of Jules Verne in 2005 the Pontevedra Province Business Women’s Association commissioned and donated a sculpture of the author to the city of Vigo. The piece, by city artist José Molares, can be found on the Muelle del Comercio warf near the sports marina. Verne is seated on a giant squid of the kind that attacked the Nautilus in the novel. The enormous bronze tentacles are a delight to children visiting Vigo, who clamour to have their photo taken on them.