The Drassanes Reals

The Drassanes Reals (31)

Very close to the monument to Christopher Columbus stand the Drassanes Reials, or Royal Shipyards. This complex of buildings is the royal dock-yard of Catalonia’s great mediaeval fleet, where the ships that ploughed through the waves of the Mediterranean were built and repaired.

Though over seven centuries old, it is a space about which there is no great amount of historical information. The first documents on the complex date from 1243, though the ship-yard was constructed in two stages, the first between 1283 and 1328 and the second, from 1328 to 1390. The result is an enormous building, consisting of two Gothic sheds supported by pillars of stone. A spectacular building that looks as if it is held up by huge stone palm trees. One of the most beautiful Civil Gothic buildings and one of the most important in the world. Declared a historical-artistic monument in 1976.

Later, several extensions were documented. Between 1390 and 1415 the “Porxo Nou”, or new roof, known as the building of Pere IV, was added. Between 1612 and 1618, the sheds of the Generalitat; and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, other extensions, such as the Comillas Hall, were built.

A curious detail worth noting is that the wall facing the Montjuïc hill is the only remnant of the city’s fourteenth-century walls, which were demolished in 1854.

The Museu Marítim, or Maritime Museum, has occupied this exceptional site since 1929. It contains archaeological findings, navigation maps, models of ships, pottery, arms, nautical instruments and other treasures such as a 1493 atlas belonging to Amerigo Vespucci, who gave the name of America to the Indies discovered by Columbus.

Outstanding is the real-scale reproduction of the Royal Galley of Don John of Austria, the flag-ship of the fleet of the Holy League, formed by Spain, the Republic of Venice, the Papal States and Malta, which fought the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

The museum is very active, with continuous exhibitions, activities for children, courses, congresses, scholarships, research prizes...

And after plying the seas through the museum, you can rest and have a bite in the cafeteria, with its beautiful terrace in the King’s garden, which on summer nights becomes a highly fashionable watering-hole.

Upstairs its restaurant, with Mediterranean food, also opens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, where you can chill out in a relaxed atmosphere.

You can also visit its shop, where you will find everything from navigation manuals to kits for building ship models.

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