The Museu Marítim or Maritime Museum is housed in the medievel royal shipyard at Drassanes, at the sea end of Las Ramblas. A shipyard is first mentioned as early as 1241 and part of the current building was constructed in 1285 under the orders of Peter III of Aragon.
As the need for greater naval power grew so did the shipyard and it underwent a major expansion between 1328 to 1390. At this point it was incorporated inside the city defensive wall. In the 16th century, due to the expansion of Barcelona’s port and significant changes to maritime design and technology the shipyard was once again expanded and moved slightly inland. Interestingly the builders continued to use the gothic construction style as it was clearly still ‘fit for purpose’!
More expansion by both the Catalan and Spanish governments during the 17th and 18th centuries. Finally in 1935 the whole complex was given to the city council and in 1941 it was formally opened as the Maritime Museum.
The museum boasts an eclectic mix of maritime exhibits, including models, art and full size ships, but the ‘jewel in the crown’ is the fantastic reproduction of the 60-metres-long royal galley ‘Admirals of Juan de Austria‘. The original vessel was the flagship of the Holy League fleet that led the naval engagement called the Battle of Lepanto on 7 October 1571. The result was a major defeat for the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras.
After strolling around the museum there is a cafe in an outside courtyard which is a great spot to enjoy a coffee and see one of the three submarines that are on show in various spots in Barcelona. The craft in the corner of the gardens is the famous Ictíneo I, a pioneering submarine constructed between 1858–1859 by engineer Narcís Monturiol.
The museum is open Monday to Sunday from 10.00 – 20.00 with free admission on Sunday afternoons from 3pm. Entrance is a reasonable 10€ with reductions for children, students and OAPs. If you don’t have time for the museum the courtyard with the cafe is free to visit.
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