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History Of The Spanish Galleons

01Festival-goers will have a chance to tour El Galeón, a replica of the type of vessel used by the Spanish Crown for maritime expeditions from the 16th to 18th centuries.0

Galleons were intended to discover and then establish trade routes between Spain, America and the Philippines, and formed what was then called the Fleet of the Indies. With an innovative design at the time, galleons were armed merchant vessels with tonnages ranging from 500 to 1,200, whereas their overall lengths would range from 130 to 200 feet. They were designed to cross the largest oceans as efficiently as possible. For three centuries, these Spanish galleons crossed the Atlantic Ocean back and forth, sailed around the Caribbean Sea and the American coasts, and covered the Pacific route as well. They carried seamen, merchant traders and settlers, while their holds bore the fabulous loads resulting from American and Asian trade.

Galleons were the most universal Spanish ships, which played the lead in commercial and cultural relationships during more than three centuries between Spain, America and Asia. These ships formed the so-called Indies fleet, which sailed from Seville, Spain, to America (Mexico and Panama), where they linked up with the other great commercial route that extended the navigation to the Pacific Ocean: the Manila Galleon Route or China Route. This last route linked Manila to Acapulco, bringing rich goods from the Far East to Spain and Western civilizations. Spanish Galleons played the leading role on the longest (in time and length) maritime commercial route of the history of navigation during three centuries.0

The Replica: El Galeón

It took three years to research the main historical and maritime archives in Spain and compile all necessary information about galleons’ shapes, details and measures to build this replica. Historical research was followed by structural design, which took six months, and later on followed the construction of the galleon, which lasted 17 months and employed 150 people until her launching in Punta Umbría (Huelva, Spain) in November 2009.

The replica was designed and built by naval engineer and historian Ignacio Fernandez Vial, commissioned by the ship’s owner, the Nao Victoria Foundation. It’s a 500-ton galleon, with overall length reaching 160 feet and beam 32 feet. Four masts hold six sails which measure almost 11,000 square feet. Average speed: seven knots. A crew of between 15 and 35 people has manned her across the world’s seas and oceans. She has navigated the Pacific and Indian Oceans, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, sailed the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the South and East China seas, the Aegean, the Bosporus strait and the Caribbean, covering thousands of nautical miles in an attempt to evoke her ancestors.

A different and exclusive platform, The Galeón beautifully captures and represents the culture, becoming an extraordinary attraction in every port it visits. As a floating museum, the vessel offers a unique space to perform a diversity of events, as well as excellent zones that serve as the interpretive center dedicated to galleons. It is a highly attractive ship with multiple spaces, resources and exhibition infrastructure of immense versatility to host diverse events, presentations, exhibitions and more. Equipped with the latest technology, history, tradition and modernity are brought together across more than 320 square meters of the galleon’s decks that can be accessed by visitors.

Offering daily tours providing memories and information about 16th century European sailing techniques and technology, El Galeón will tell the 500-year story since the arrival of Juan Ponce de León on the eastern shores of Florida.

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