The sea, the sea … in Barcelona

Another bright sunny day, so the seashore beckoned again – in Barcelona this time.

First though, we visited the Museu Marítim, located in the impressive Drassanes Reials, the mediaeval shipyard dating originally from the 13th century.  It was remodelled time and again till the 18th century, when it fell out of use.

Our main memory of this engaging and beautifully curated museum is of the impressively reconstructed galley ship the Galera Reyal of 1568, and all the instruments, arms, ordnance and documents associated with such a warship. 

What about this? Thirty oars each side, each manned by four slaves. These men toiled for hours and hours each day, shackled to the same spot for the entire voyage. They worked, ate and slept here, puddled in their own excrement. A ship such as theirs could never surprise the enemy. The smell preceded it by several knots. The exquisite ornamentation of this vessel, rich in symbolism, loses some of its allure against this background.

The whole of the dockyard area is rich in history. Here are just a few pictures, and from the more recently developed Port Vell.

14 thoughts on “The sea, the sea … in Barcelona”

  1. Magnificent ships and so uplifting to see blue sky – even if it’s only in your beautiful, sunny photos. You may have guessed it’s still very grey here. Enjoy that sun whilst you can! 😄

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  2. What a way to treat human beings, the way those slaves were treated, it’s a wonder the ships got anywhere. You find such interesting things to photograph and write about, I look forward to your posts.

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  3. You’re right about the magnificent ship losing some of its allure. And surely the appalling practice was counterproductive in other ways besides the smell preceding it; imagine the sores and infections and resulting loss of strength. Absolutely beautiful reflection in the last picture, including the statue of Christopher Columbus.

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  4. Did the museum provide the information about the slaves and the conditions they endured? So often museums gloss over such reality. It’s only in fairly recent times that American historical museums, like Colonial Williamsburg, have included a clear-eyed view of what the slave inhabitants went through. Your photos are lovely–what weather you’ve had!

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    1. Yes, this museum was excellent on background information, both palatable and unpalatable. The weather? Yes! We had lunch outside yesterday, before flying home to 12 degrees colder 😦

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  5. I guess if they regarded the slaves as sub human it makes sense they treated them the way we still treat cattle etc in factory farms – what a fascinating and depressing bit of history that I’d never heard before! Great photos.

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