Sunday, 11 May 2014

I have been to … the Barcelona Maritime Museum

During our recent visit to Barcelona we made a special point of visiting the Museu Maritim de Barcelona (Barcelona Maritime Museum). It is located on the roundabout at the seaward end of Las Ramblas.

Museum Courtyard Entrance
The entrance courtyard to the Museum contained some unusual objects of maritime interest including a replica of the submarine Ictineo 1 (the original submarine was designed in 1859 by Narcis Monturiel), …

… an old dockside crane, …

… and the bridge of the trawler Saylemar, …

… which was originally operated from Cartagena.

Inside the Museum Entrance
The entrance foyer of the Museum contained a number of ship models of SS City of Paris, …

…the SS Pommeranian, …

… as well as a sectional model of the SS Ciudad de Sevilla.

There was also a model of the Barcelona seashore as it would have looked during the fifteenth century.

The Museum is housed in the buildings that were formerly used to construct galleys, and there are also several models in the entrance foyer that show its layout.

The Viking Exhibition
The exhibition began with a large tongue-in-cheek diorama of a ‘typical’ Viking village … made from Playmobil!

In fact the exhibition itself was extremely good, with excellent signage, a wonderful and wide-ranging collection of exhibits, and a magnificent layout.

My favourite exhibits were a carved stone that depicted the journey to Valhalla, …

… the iron rivets used to hold the bow of an excavated Viking ship together, displayed in the relative positions they were found in, …

… and a Viking helmet.

Renaissance Galley and Spanish boat collection
One section of the old galley building shed was taken up with a very impressive full-size replica of a Renaissance galley.

The rest of the building shed housed a collection of typical Spanish boats.

Antarctic Research
The museum contained a small exhibit devoted to Spanish exploration and research in the Antarctic.

A Voyage Overseas
Viatge mar enllà (A Voyage Overseas) was an exhibition that contained a number of vignettes that investigated what it meant to travel by ship through the ages.

It began with a number of models that showed the development of merchant ship. The first two were models of the fifteenth century merchant ships Coca de Mataró

… and Niña.

These were followed by models of the Museum’s own schooner, Santa Eulàlia

… and the SS Ana de Sala.

The exhibition included a model that showed how a sailing ship was careened (i.e. had barnacles and other marine growth removed from its bottom).

One painting depicted the use of a steamship to transport Catalan volunteers to Cuba to fight.

Some of the details in the painting were of particular interest.

A model of the flagship used by Don Juan of Austrian at the Battle of Lepanto was very impressive.

The modern age of steam was illustrated by a large model of the SS Infanta Isobel de Borbón

… and an early locomotive-style ship’s boiler.

The use of ships in war was not ignored, and the exhibition included a model of the Spanish frigate Hijas da Pineda, …

… a painting of the Battle of Lepanto, …

… and a model HMS Victory.

After a break for a drink in the Museum’s café, we made our way down to the Old Port, where we were able to see the museum’s preserved schooner, Santa Eulàlia.

If you are going to Barcelona in the future, and have sufficient time, this Museum is worth visiting.


  1. Thanks Bob, been there, seen all that, probably got the T-shirt too.

    Will probably want to see it all again now!

  2. What an embarrassment of riches. Bob thank you very much for sharing.

  3. Bob
    Great photos - I love the wooden sub and the replica galley!
    I'd say that your cruise was a great idea.

  4. Jim Duncan,

    I went a few years ago ... and it was shut for renovations. They are now complete ... and it was well worth the wait.

    All the best,


  5. Conrad Kinch,

    If you are every in Barcelona and have the time to visit the museum, I don't think that you will be disappointed.

    All the best,


  6. Peter Douglas,

    I was told that the wooden submarine was a two-thirds scaled-down replica of the original.

    I wish that had been possible to see inside the galley, but at present that is not feasible.

    As to the cruise ... well I can hardly wait until we go on our next one!

    All the best,


  7. Bob, I will never get there so I really do appreciate your account and photos of your visit. It looks like a wonderful museum.

    -- Jeff

  8. Bluebear Jeff,

    I am very pleased to read that you enjoy my travel-blog entries ... and I suspect that you might find two that I plan to write later this week will also be of interest.

    All the best,


  9. My wife and I have been to Barcelona a few times now. Never done the Maritime Museum (I likewise was there when they were renovating), but I did get to the military museum in the old fortress above the harbour. It is quite a walk (we couldn't find the entrance to the funicular that goes up the hill), but worth a visit, especially for anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War. They also had a wonderful display of large (54mm?) figures of an entire Division of the 1920's - at one to one figure scale as far as I could see!

  10. Just to update my last post - I just googled the museum to send you a link and found it has now closed! Apparently most of the exhibits have gone to the old fortress in Figueres, though some of the artillery is still on display. Sorry about that!

  11. Impressive exhibits! My favorite is the 15th century cog - just the thing for late mediaeval or early Renaissance naval games. Thanks for sharing!

    But I have to say, those are some glutes on that galley! My, my.

  12. Ian Dury,

    I visited the military museum when it was based in the fortress atop Montjuic, and again since it shut and the fortress became a cultural centre.

    You are right about the 54mm-scale infantry division being on display. One hopes that it has also been rehoused somewhere where it can be displayed complete.

    All the best,


  13. Archduke Piccolo,

    The museum - and its exhibits - are even more impressive when seen up close. If you are ever in Barcelona, I think that you would find it a good place to visit.

    All the best,


  14. I'm currently doing research on designing galley models, and came across your blog post. Your pics have been a super reference help- thank you so much for sharing!


  15. Foss1066 (Thomas),

    I am glad that the photographs were of help. It might be worth your while to have a look at the photos I took at the Maritime Museum in Venice. The Venetians were great galley builders, and the museum has some interesting models.

    All the best,