Thursday, 5 November 2015

Barcelona - a few military bits and pieces

Barcelona is, IMHO, one of the world's greatest cities. This was my third visit and the first with a digital camera. On this five day family trip, I managed to squeeze in a couple of things with a military angle (unless you also include a tour of Camp Nou).

The first was a visit to the Museu Maritim. It holds one of the finest exhibits any maritime museum could have. A full size replica of Juan de Austria's flagship at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Unfortunately, this exhibit no longer has oars or the over deck walkway. This is a shame, but the exhibit is still worth seeing. At least the model gives views you can no longer see for yourself on the bigger version.

 Looking aft
 Looking forward
 The stern is spectacular - this is a very big row boat, it is 60m (the best part of 200 feet) long.
 It really is a beautiful reconstruction.
 At one point on the hull side, planks have been removed to show the hold and construction.
 Aft, there are a couple of small swivel guns (hackbuts).
 The forecastle from just aft of it.
It has a magnificent prow, though the guns are missing. I think they were there the last time I visited. Just in front you can see the glass enclosed model - I mention the glass because taking photos through it is a pain. 

I have to mention, that whenever I see this ship, I wonder if the design of the prow has the same phallic 'prominence' as a modern sports car's bonnet (US - hood).

This is the best photo of the model I got to take (of 6) having ducked under an exclusion rope  (naughty) to get it all in, on zoom, in hand held focus. What a bloody beauty! The museum has a lot of very nice models, some of which follow but lets have some more of this one first, shall we (sorry about the glass reflections)?

 There are several other models at the museum worthy of note. This is an original builders model for a Spanish 80 gun third rate. The particular model dates from around 1740 - it looks good for a model made 275 years ago.

 Here we have a model of the Spanish ship of exploration Victoria c.1519
 A Greek merchant vessel from the 4th century BC. Slightly off military, but one of my naval periods for which models in museums are few and far between.
 Here's me taking a shot through another pain of glass. This time of a stunning model of Barcelona's coastline in the fifteenth century.
 It really is a model to play 1:600 (ish) on.
A day or two later, I dragged the family up the hill (we took the over harbour cable car up most of the way) to Montjuic Castle. This is a serious piece of kit just outside the main entrance.

 Makers plate on the above.
 The castle is a Vauban style small fortress with a very simple square courtyard at is heart.

 This is interesting. just through the main outer gate the passage splits to go left and right.
 The inner rampart from the outside. It was converted to a prison, so I have a feeling the windows might not have been part of the original design?
Typical dry moats and outer defences, from the inside. 
 The passage into the inner courtyard.
 It really is a very simple square yard with large barrack rooms off it.
 A model of the fortress in one of the 'barrack rooms'. It's a very good size to be modelled - compact and bijou.

So, there it is, my military bit of Barcelona.


Jonathan Freitag said...

Great photos! Barcelona is certainly on my travel list.

Jim Duncan said...

Been there, seen that, done that, was a good visit. Glad you enjoyed it.

My visit was a good few years ago before they refurbished and re-utilised the fort. They had a display of artillery in the square courtyard which I understand has been relocated to Madrid. There was also an excellent display of toy soldiers including some very old ones. I don't know what happened to them.

caveadsum1471 said...

Great naval museum, its the only one my wife actually liked , which is saying something as she would now rather slit her wrists then have to go to another maritime museum, at least my daughter likes them!

Eric Elder said...

Thanks for sharing. I was curious what Juan de Austria's flagship looked like at the museum. Impressive.

rct75001 said...

James that is spectacular. Love the "row boat" and the amazing stern.

If you ever get a chance the Naval Museum at Venice is also rather special.

Simon Jones said...

It's funny I cannot stand Barcelona, I much prefer Madrid.


Robbie Rodiss said...

I believe Montjuic Castle was where the Republican prisoners were kept after the SCW by Francos mob.Needless to say it couldnt have been a pleasant place at that time. But still a wonderful city to travel around in.


Hi Jim,

The soldiers, was it a mountain division, with equipment and transport, at 1:1 going around the room in long glass cabinets - 54mm types. Yes I remember that too and hoped it would still be there, sadly not. Having said that, they are doing a big refurb on the place. I was sorry the artillery had been moved too - they had quite a lot of German stuff, from memory.


Yes the Venice one is good, but I think this one is better. Surprisingly I think the best naval museum is in Madrid: it has more Trafalgar exhibits than Greenwich!

Hi Simon,

I found Madrid a little too 'capital city' and didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted too. I was there for four days after I'd just spent a week in Salamanca, wandering in the countryside and then retreating to a very good hotel converted from a 15th Century Spanish palace at night: the shock of totally relaxed to hustle bustle was too much. I loved Salamanca.

Hi Robbie,

Yes, it must have been pretty grim. They also shelled the city from there, three times, over the years. This was my third visit to the city and I'll go again, perhaps in a few years.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

As a sailing man the galleas (??) model is interesting - those forward facing guns will clear away that foresail nicely if they ever fired while it was deployed... I'm assuming all masts/rigs were taken down in combat??? PS. Is that a prow in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me... :o)

WimVdB said...

Montjuic used to be a really large military museum, with lots (1000+) of small arms.
But also late medieval and samurai arms and armour, and most important a huge collection of tin soldiers.

The museum pieces are now split into several parts and seems to be divided across Spain.
I recently discovered the tin soldiers collection again at the huge Vauban fortification next to Figueras. (Largest Vauban fortification in Europe!)
Around 100 km away from Barcelona, and well worth a visit!

Thanks for the pictures.

Gonsalvo said...

Super pictures, James. The full scale replica of Don Juan's Laterna is most impressive, as is the model. Thanks for sharing them with us! A good freind of mine back in Middle and High school was born and raised in Barcelona.

GarethG said...

I'd second the comment about Figueras. It's impressive, to say the least. And there is a Salvador Dali museum in the town. Weird is not the word....

GarethG said...

Re your comments on the prow of the Real; remember that Don Juan ordered the prows cut off before Lepanto so they wouldn't interfere with the main armaments' field of fire. What kind of phallic symbolism is that!?