The history of Galicia is intimately linked to the world of the sea. Fishing and shipbuilding have driven the development of the coast for centuries, shaping a history and a heritage of great value. Its conservation and dissemination is what has led to the establishment of museums in many towns throughout the community in which, in addition to preserving maritime culture, a voice is given to the residents who have dedicated their lives to the world of fishing. Dare to know the best kept secrets of the Galician coast visiting some of these sites.
Museo del Mar de Galicia
The Museo del Mar de Galicia is a cultural and scientific centre dedicated exclusively to the sea, being an interesting place to understand the historical link of the Galician neighbours with the maritime world. Inaugurated in 2002, it is located in Punta do Muíño, in the parish of Alcabre (Vigo). The centre consists of 17,000 square metres for the permanent exhibition and several temporary exhibitions on various subjects, but always related to the sea. This space, designed by the Italian architect Aldo Rossi and the Galician César Portela, allows the visitor to discover very closely the fishing activity and its development throughout history, including technical advances in marine biology and boats. The tour of the rooms ends with a visit to the museum’s aquarium, where you can observe the ecosystems that exist between the dock of the enclosure and the coast of the Cíes islands.
The museum is open all year round except on 25 December and 1 and 6 January, when it is closed, and on 24 and 31 December, when it only opens in the morning. You can consult the complete timetable as well as the prices through its web.
Museo de la Salazón
Located in Punta Moreiras (San Vicente do Grove), the Museo de la Salazón is a museum composed of two old salting factories. The oldest is fully equipped so that visitors can see the processes of preserving sardines in brine that were used in the 18th and 19th centuries. The route through the building, always open to the public and with free entrance, is perfectly explained on panels located in the different sections. The second building has a structure with a more modern style and was built on the ruins of an older one. In this ‘salgadeira’, which has an important ethnographic character, there is a permanent exhibition that offers a vision of the seafaring history of the area, as well as the art of fishing and shellfishing. A wide variety of objects are on display so that visitors can become familiar with the maritime world, such as the different types of nets and preserves. You can consult all the information about timetables and accesses through the municipal website.
Museo del Mar de Rianxo
The Museo del Mar de Rianxo is located in an old house known as A Casa do Coxo which has been restored and has a fundamentally ethnographic and anthropological orientation. Located in the Praza de Castelao, its rooms allow the visitor to take a tour of the way of life of a seafaring town with its peculiarities: obtaining food from the sea, the construction of the boats and the fishing gear used. The museum has three floors: the first is made up of a room dedicated to the recreation of boats by means of models, as well as a small thematic library on the sea; the ground floor houses an exhibition room that brings the visitor closer to the reality of the seafaring world; and the basement recreates a traditional workshop of small boats, with different explanatory panels and the different pieces and tools that were used. It can be visited individually or by taking part in guided tours. More information on the website https://omarfeitotradicion.gal/es/museodomar.
Museo Mares de Cedeira
The Museo Mares de Cedeira was created as an initiative to value the work done by all men and women of the sea. It also aims at making their work tools known and spreading the seafaring culture, which is so present in our days. In this way, the people of Cedeira can preserve their history which has always been linked to the sea. Being a project of the Cedeira Sea Association, the town council and the fishermen’s guild, this museum keeps countless pieces that are part of the municipality’s memory. Boats, engines, fossils, shells… are elements that, together with the contributions of the local people, were able to preserve a long seafaring tradition. The museum also conserves three traditional boats that are very important in the fishing heritage of Galicia: a rowing boat, a motorboat and a dorn. In addition, it displays very unique collections, such as the pieces of a ship that was present at the Normandy landing. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, but with different opening hours depending on the time of year. You can consult all the information on its website.
Museo Casa de la Navegación de Baiona
Open to the public since 2005, the Museo Casa de la Navegación de Baiona is located in the historical centre of this Pontevedra municipality. It is a municipal facility that houses a collection on the evolution of the Real Vila, highlighting the important role played by its port in the history of Atlantic navigation. Its collection allows the visitor to learn about the historical legacy of the area through various elements: the old documents related to the town, the pieces recovered from archaeological and underwater interventions and the exhibition of its own collection, among which the model of the Carabela Pinta and the old lamps of the Silleiro lighthouse stand out. The exhibition is divided into four thematic areas and thirteen modules, distributed over two floors: the ground floor is dedicated to the origin and evolution of the town, while the first floor offers information on the port, as well as on the art and dangers of navigation. You can consult the information on timetables and fares on the tourism website of the Town Hall of Baiona.
Museo del Mar da Guarda
A Guarda has an important past linked to the world of fishing that can be seen in the architecture of the fishermen’s quarter and in its Museum of the Sea. This building, located at the end of the Paseo Marítimo of the municipal capital, is reminiscent of an old defensive fortress and hides a collection based on traditional coastal fishing. The museum has two collections: an ethnographic one (contains a sample of the old fishing arts) and a malacological one (contains a section of sea shells from different parts of the world). It can be visited on weekends and holidays from February until the Constitution Day. More information on the website https://www.turismoaguarda.es/museo-del-mar/.
Museo del Mar de Laxe
The Museo del Mar de Laxe, located in a building of high traditional architectural interest, is integrated into the historic center of the town of Laxe. Its content is mainly focused on the anthropological, visual and historical heritage (from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century) of this municipality of the Costa da Morte, of the region of which it is part (Bergantiños) and of the neighbouring Terra de Soneira. It also includes a photographic documentary collection promoted by some 67,000 images from the archive of the local photographers Plácido Vidal and José María Vidal. The museum is divided into four floors which, in addition to the collection, offer other services such as a conference room. The photographic exhibition is located on the ground floor and reflects the history and evolution of the municipality itself and much of the Costa da Morte. You can consult the information about visits in the web https://turismolaxe.gal/museo-del-mar/museo/?lang=es.
Museo Naval de Ferrol
The Museo Naval de Ferrol has more than 2,650 catalogued records, including pieces and sets of historical value related to the activity of the Navy and its relationship with the municipality of A Coruña and the naval history of Spain. It is located in the building of the Arsenal of Ferrol, known as the Presidio de San Campio and that constitutes in itself an architectural marvel of baroque-neoclassical style that dates from the eighteenth century. The exterior has a collection of anchors that is considered one of the best in the world.
In the Weapons Room of the museum, visitors can see all the elements that once formed the firing direction of a 20th century ship, as well as various pieces of artillery and nautical instruments used by sailors on their voyages. Among the models preserved in its rooms, some pieces and objects from the Santa María Magdalena frigate, which sank in the Viveiro estuary, stand out. More information on the Naval Museum Foundation website.
Museo de la Construcción Naval
Also in Ferrol we can visit the Museo de la Construcción Naval, an institution promoted by the Fundación para el Fomento del Conocimiento de la Construcción Naval y de las Actividades Marítimas (Exponav) with the aim of disseminating the development of shipbuilding techniques and the materials used in this process. The museum’s exhibition offers a vision of the most relevant historical events linked to this activity in Spain, which is currently related to the modern shipyards of Astano, Bazán and Navantia. The ground floor of the building shows us a tour of the construction techniques and basic services of the ships, while the upper floor offers us a room for temporary exhibitions and thematic areas. The entire museum has a collection of documents on maritime and industrial heritage that are of great value, as they allow the visitor to learn about Ferrol’s role in military and civil construction in Spain from the 18th century to the present day. You can consult all the information about schedules and tickets in its web.
Museo Provincial do Mar (Cervo)
In the municipality of Cervo, the Museo Provincial do Mar awaits us. It was created in 1969 as an initiative of the master Francisco M. Rivera Casás to collect objects related to the sea. The museum complex, located in the old San Cibrao Unitarian School, aims to promote the seafaring history of the coastal municipalities of Lugo and to make known their biological and ethnographic wealth. The Museo do Mar de Cervo boasts of being the oldest monographic installation of its kind in Galicia. The building houses four exhibition halls: the first one shows graphic documents and naval mechanics; the second one collects ethnographic collections; the third one is dedicated to marine fauna and flora; and the fourth one is devoted to shipbuilding and a collection of nautical charts, instruments, anchors and knots, among others. More information on the municipal website.
Located in the Pontevedra municipality of Bueu, this museum is installed in the industrial buildings of the former Massó Hermanos canning factory. It was the famous inventor Guillermo Marconi who suggested the creation of the museum during the visit he made in 1928 to this canning factory when he was surprised by the collection of objects and documents there. A few years later, in 1932, the Massó Brothers made the project a reality. The large room on the first floor is dedicated to navigation and the beginnings of maritime trade, all illustrated with models, books and maps, among other objects. On the ground floor we can see a room focused on the exploitation of the resources of the sea, with photographs and unique pieces. There are also temporary exhibitions and a room dedicated to the three most emblematic boats in the Pontevedra estuary. When the cannery closed in 1994, the museum passed into the hands of the Xunta de Galicia and today it maintains the maritime and industrial heritage that characterizes it. Prepare your visit by consulting its website.
Arquivo da Pesca de Caión
The Arquivo da Pesca de Caión is a project promoted by the Fishermen’s Guild of Caión to preserve and make known the history of this port located in the municipality of A Laracha in A Coruña through the fishing activity in the area. In its exhibition we will find documents, objects, explanatory panels and even audiovisual material that highlight a key activity in the development of the area. The history of the brotherhood itself, the evolution of fishing during the period between the 17th and 19th centuries and during the 20th century and specific episodes such as whaling are some of the contents that can be found in this museum. More information on its website.