Spain's maritime museums: discover the secrets of the oceans
Barcelona Maritime Museum
Are you interested in the seas and oceans? Would you like to get to know their secrets and discover the history of navigation? If so, then you are in luck. In Spain there are a host of naval and maritime museums awaiting you. Come and see galleons, submarines, shipwreck remains, objects recovered from lost civilisations... and much, much more.
Imagine yourself on board a 16th century warship, or discovering what life was like for fishermen and their coastal villages in times gone by. Find out about legendary expeditions and journeys, such as that which led to the discovery of America in 1492. Learn about the processes and techniques of shipbuilding. Visit one of Spain's maritime museums - there are many surprises awaiting you. You won't have a moment to be bored.
The Naval Museum in Madrid is one of the most extensive of its type in Spain. Discover Spain's seafaring history from the 15th century to the present day. In its exhibition halls you will find documents, maps, archives, paintings and a variety of hugely valuable objects. Another brilliant place to visit is the Maritime Museum in Barcelona, located in the Reales Atarazanas building, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Don't miss its collection of model boats, with life-size replicas of historic vessels such as the Royal Galley, which was the boat that flew the pennant at the Battle of Lepanto in the 16th century, and an 80-cannon ship from the 18th century. There is even more to see. From navigational instruments and maps, hundreds of years old, to figureheads, sculptures, weapons, coins, and even an interactive area. This is, all in all, an enjoyable, fun way to discover one part of Spanish history.
In northern Spain there are even more options, as many of these museums are in the Regions of Galicia and the Basque Country. The Galicia Museum of the Sea, in Vigo, is one of the most original, on account of its location; it is set in a stunning spot, washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the estuary. Discover how the sea and fishing have always been at the heart of life in the region, and learn about the biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems. Marine species, historic photographs, engravings, boat building tools, fishing tackle and equipment, boats, and beautiful aquaria are some of the things you will find at the Cantabria Maritime Museum in Santander. Just 100 kilometres away, the Bilbao Estuary Maritime Museum offers the chance to discover the close relationship that this city has maintained with its estuary, port and shipyards over the centuries. And in Luanco you'll find the Maritime Museum of Asturias, with a collection that focuses on marine biology, traditional fishing, the history of navigation and sea-related carpentry.
This journey over the oceans and seas continues on the Mediterranean coast. Objects recovered from lost civilisations have their special place at the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology, in Cartagena. Roman amphorae, a unique collection in the world of elephant tusks with Phoenician inscriptions, a scale reproduction of part of a Roman merchant ship... are just part of what can be seen here, where the treasures hidden under water since time immemorial are on display. Before leaving Cartagena, be sure to visit its Naval Museum - one of its rooms is dedicated exclusively to Isaac Peral, a native of this city and inventor of the submarine.
These are not the only places dedicated to navigation and maritime heritage - there are even more. So there is no excuse. Come to Spain and make time to visit these museums, where you will find culture, anecdotes, unusual objects and lots of fun.
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