Museo Naval, Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

Madrid, the capital and largest city in Spain, is well-known for its stunning art museums such as the Prado and Reina-Sofia, but the city also plays host to many other types of interesting museums—museums which portray the history of Spain through a variety of different lenses.  One such museum is the Museo Naval de Madrid, or in English, the Naval Museum of Madrid.  Below we have compiled a few interesting facts about this interesting and engaging Madrid attraction, including a brief history of the museum and some information regarding its collection.

Interesting Facts about the Museo Naval de Madrid

The Museo Naval is one of many Madrid museums that are officially considered “national museums,” a distinction that comes with great pride to those who have helped to assemble the collection over the years.  Within the walls of this museum tourists can peruse objects and receive guided tours that show the history of the Spanish Navy since the Catholic Monarchs, in the 15th century, up to the present.  There are also several navigation instruments, weapons of warfare, maps and paintings on display.

The Museo Naval’s origins date back to 1792.  However, it was not until 1843 when the Museum was inaugurated in Madrid.  In 1932, the museum was finally moved to its current location at the Spanish Navy Headquarters

The Museo Naval currently serves as a component of the Spanish Armada’s Naval Headquarters in Madrid and is generally considered one of the most significant naval museums in the world.  This is primarily because its collection, which displays a variety of historic items, reflects the rich history of the Spanish Navy and the leading role it played in the history of navigation and exploration.

Of all the unique pieces that comprise the Museo Naval, perhaps the most treasured and prized work is the “Mappa Mundi,” a map which dates back to 1500 and was drawn by the Spanish cartographer Juan de la Cosa.  A seamen and explorer, de la Cosa made seven separate voyages to the Americas, two of which he travelled in the company of none other than Christopher Columbus.  Tourists to the museum will notice the handwritten notes de la Cosa made on the Mappa Mundi regarding the first three voyages of Columbus, including an outline he drew of Cuba.  The map, which is thought to be the first-known representation of the American continent, was drawn on a section of ox-hide and illustrated using water colors and ink.

This is just one of the many exhibits at the Museo Naval that embrace the history of the Spanish Navy and navigation.  The items are housed in a series of 24 carefully laid out rooms that are chronologically ranked, beginning with the 15th century and the time of the Catholic Monarchs to the cutting edge maritime advances of the present day.  Guests can pursue items such as naval charts, scale models of ships, original figureheads, paintings of famous sailors and naval battles, flags, weapons and even fragments of artillery that are sure to impress even the most modest naval enthusiast.

The museum is located on the Paseo del Prado in Madrid and is open every day but Monday from 10am to 2pm.  Admission is free for children and adults and guided tours are often offered on the weekends at no extra charge, usually commencing at 11:30 am.