The Naval Museum of San Fernando is a public institution that aims to spread the history of the presence of the Spanish Navy in San Fernando (Cádiz). It is based in the San Carlos Military Population, in San Fernando, specifically in the Carlos III Building. The museum is owned by the Ministry of Defense, in addition to being peripheral to the Naval Museum of Madrid.

The museum since its foundation in 1992 conforms to the departmental or peripheral character of the subsidiary museums of the Naval Museum of Madrid. They are museums that perfectly contextualize the Spanish Naval History because they are settled in each of the traditional maritime areas from 1717 to 2002.

Environments such as that of the Bay of Cádiz are witnesses of very important geopolitical events. The waters of Cádiz are authentic underwater archaeological sites (wrecks), which bear witness to what happened in front of its coasts as a result of battles or shipwrecks.

Cádiz is one of the first naval enclaves of the Iberian Peninsula, the main port of Antiquity, for Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. It had a huge port development thanks to the gallons that made the race to the Indies, which led to a very rich cosmopolitan atmosphere as a result of the rise of the new merchant bourgeoisie, in addition to becoming a naval strategic point, being the Port of Santa María anchorage The royal galleys during winter.

They are the subsidiary museums of each maritime zone, essential diffusion centers for the correct understanding of the Spanish Naval History and the General History of Spain. Cádiz is the main focus of tourism in Spain and cultural offers such as this one are necessary for visitors. The ultimate goal is for the San Fernando Naval Museum to become the backbone of the entire naval culture of the Bay of Cádiz.

The proposed creation of a Naval Museum was created by Royal Decree of the 28 of September of 1792, from the Secretary of the Navy Antonio Valdés and Fernandez Bazan, in which Carlos IV, had decided to establish in the military population of San Carlos is a Museum of Marina In addition to the General Library, gather all the natural sciences that are necessary for the complete instruction of the Army Corps, and consequently useful in it, but it was not until March 27, 1992 when the current Museum was inaugurated. The 6 of July of 1994 he received the first official visit of the King and Queen of SpainKing Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia.

The creation of a Naval Museum in San Fernando is a fact linked to the development of the city from 1769, when the town of the Royal Island of León became the head of the Maritime Department as a result of the transfer from Cádiz capital. Around the new Arsenal of La Carraca, all the official centers of the Department began to be relocated, including the Royal Marine Guard Company together with the Academy. In order to provide said Academy with instruments for the best training of students and in the illustrated academic academic context of the moment, it was thought to form an important specialized library in addition to a museum in which all the sciences that are necessary were gathered for the complete instruction of the Army Corps. Both the Royal Company, as the Academy with the museum would be located on the premises of the New Population of San Carlos, a whole urban complex that would be built, by the way, for the installation of the entire Maritime Department. Unfortunately, the project was never completed. Of the projected military population, just a few buildings were built, and the illustrated idea of a museum and scientific library was interrupted because of the successive crises that occurred during the reign of Charles IV first, and Fernando VII after the Spanish War of Independence.

Since the approval of the museum project in 1792, objects of cultural and scientific interest, such as historical cartography, naval models, nautical instruments, etc., had been made to shape what the future collections would be. This material was distributed between the Royal Observatory and other departments of the Department, and then became part of what would be the Naval Museum, which would no longer be installed on the Island of León but in Madrid, at the request of Queen Elizabeth II. It was not until two centuries later, in 1992, when the Naval Museum opened its doors, in San Fernando, a name that the city acquired in honor of Ferdinand VII from 1813, in the same building where it would have been located in the 18th century, Today, the Navy’s NCO School, until July 8, 2016, which opens at its current headquarters,

The Naval Museum of San Fernando was installed in the Royal Population of San Carlos in the primitive building of the Intendencia and Naval College, today the Navy’s NCO School, on March 27, 1992 and visited by SS. MM. the Kings on July 6, 1994.

On April 24, 2015, the Naval Museum of San Fernando opened its doors again in its new headquarters: the emblematic building of the former General Captaincy of the Navy (Maritime Strait Area), rehabilitated to house all the facilities of the center in addition of his important historical collection. After completing the transfer and conditioning of the funds, it was inaugurated by HM the King on July 8, 2016.

The building that housed the museum, in neoclassical style, and unique characteristics, dates from 1798. Highlight the roundabout, circular patio topped by a glass roof, supported by eight Ionic columns, and accessed by two stairs in the form of spiral, all decorated with tiles from Delft (Holland) of the 18th century.

Patrimony of the Navy in San Fernando
In addition, in San Fernando you can visit two important buildings related to the Navy and the Museum’s funds: The Pantheon of Illustrious Marines and the Royal Institute and Observatory of the Navy.

In the Pantheon of Illustrious Marines rest the mortal remains of numerous Spanish sailors. It is part of the Navy’s Petty Officer School and is located in the military town of San Carlos. Your visit is free, although it requires prior reservation through the telephone numbers: 956 54 50 56 and 956 94 42 26.

The Royal Institute and Observatory of the Navy, whose origin dates back to the 18th century, offers guided tours of its facilities by reservation through the telephone 956 54 50 99. For more information you can visit its website.

The origin of the General Captaincy of the Navy in San Fernando dates back to the 18th century, at which time the entire Maritime Department of Cádiz was transferred to the Royal Villa of the Island of León by order of Carlos III.

The Spanish Navy, in line with the Bourbon reforms that were carried out throughout the eighteenth century, was reorganized into Maritime Departments. The first and head of the Royal Navy for its situation and the relationship with commerce to the Indies was the Maritime Department of Cádiz (1717). With the arrival of Carlos III, in order to promote the new Arsenal de la Carraca located at the entrance of the Island of León, and to unify the services at a nearby location, it was decided to transfer the entire Department to this town.

In 1766, being Captain General of the Department, the Marquis de la Victoria moved the Captaincy, using the “Casa de Micolta” on Calle Real, just in front of the “Casa de Sacramento” which would be, in turn, the Marine Guard Academy. Shortly after the Navy acquired land near the Castle of San Romualdo and built a new building for the Captaincy General.

In 1870 the property was rebuilt almost completely. From 1870 to 1910 the building remained virtually evicted since the Captaincy had moved to the San Carlos Military Population. A short time later it was decided to place the Naval College there, in the building that had been occupying the Captaincy and it returned back to the Royal Street.

In 1912 the building was restored transforming the entire main facade, to finally be inaugurated in 1913.

It is located in Calle Real nº 4, main artery of San Fernando, flanked by the streets Arias de Miranda, Cardenal Spínola and Diego Alvear to the South and Calle Escaño on its west face which is also the main entrance of the Museum.

The building where it is located (Carlos III building) is the same in which the San Fernando NCO School is located, in the San Carlos Military Population, next to the Pantheon of Illustrious Marines and near the San Carlos Military Hospital.

The museum has moved to the city center, to the Capitanía building, entrance through Escaño street.

The museum has fifteen rooms distributed over three floors. The lower floor, with two rooms, is dedicated to military uniforms and underwater archeology. The main floor includes, in eight rooms, the history of the maritime department of Cádiz, the episode of the battle of Trafalgar, the War of Independence in the province of Cadiz, the fall of the Spanish colonial empire in 1898, the history of the School Marine Guard and the main maritime expeditions and the scientific and navigation instruments that contributed to its development. In addition you can see an excellent vexillological collection and the first mask of the bow of the Juan Sebastián Elcano school ship.Daedalus or the Prince of Asturias among others.

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Finally, the museum exhibits in the chapel of the Capitanía Palace, an important collection of ex-marine sailors and sculptures from the 18th and 19th centuries from the military church of San Francisco.

The museum houses the Naval Library of San Fernando, with more than 14,000 copies, 4,000 of them historical.

Museum rooms
The Naval Museum island has 21 rooms reviewing the Spanish military history:

Room 1. Lobby: the original founding idea of the Museum is shown, showing the retreats of King Carlos III and Antonio Valdés and Fernández Bázan, both drivers of the illustrated ideas of the Spanish Navy.

Room 2. Underwater archeology: objects rescued from the waters are represented, thanks to underwater archeology, such as cannons, bullets, ship rigs, ancient vessels, Phoenician and Roman anchors. An ancient diver’s suit stands out in the room, as the origin of these underwater tasks.

Room 3. Trafalgar: small room where the events of the Battle of Trafalgar are narrated, fought at the Cape of Trafalgar in 1805. The models of the English ship HMS Victory and the Spanish San Juan Nepomuceno are displayed.

Room 4. Instruments of the Janer Shooting Polygon: The Janer Shooting Polygon, driven by Jaime Janer and Robinson over previous ruins for the development of modern naval artillery, is located in this room represented by instruments for measuring shot as well as photographs of the beginnings of the Polygon.

Room 5. Marine Corps: objects related to the history of the Marine Corps, highlighting old uniforms and photographs, as well as communication devices and a cannon without recoil.

Room 6. Exvotes: around the central roundabout of the Carlos III Building, there is a collection of exvotos sailors, showing the religious fervor of the men of the sea to the Mother of God.

Room 7. Folkloric: in the anteroom of the central Rotunda, several large objects are placed. Particularly noteworthy is the Clock that belonged to the church of Arsenal de la Carraca, as well as an old carriage known as “La Manolita”, which was the official vehicle of the Commander of the former Mariner Instruction Barracks, within the San Carlos Military Population.

Room 8. Religious: small room where religious objects and imagery are housed, mostly from the Church of San Francisco, San Fernando.

Room 9. Maneuvering: large objects are presented in the covered patio of the building, where the first bow figure of the Juan Sebastián Elcano school ship stands out.

Room 10. Stairs and central roundabout: the most significant are the spiral stairs and the dome located at the top. Along the route a magnificent example shown azulejería of the eighteenth century in Delft (Netherlands), birthplace of the great Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

Room 11. Roundabout of flags: on the 2nd floor of the building, on the perimeter of this roundabout, a large number of combat flags of Navy ships and several scripts are located (Niceto Alcalá Zamora, Francisco Franco and Juan Carlos I).

Room 12. Uniforms and decorations: in addition to a variety of historical uniforms with their accessories and decorations, personal belongings of Corvette Captain Jaime Janer and Robinson, illustrious representative of the naval artillery and promoter of modern naval shooting, as well as those of Admiral Faustino are presented Ruiz González, who was Governor General of the Gulf of Guinea Territories.

Room 13. Juan Sebastián Elcano: room dedicated to both the character as the training ship of the Spanish Armada, with an exhibition of the tour of all cruises Instruction made by the vessel. This also includes historical publications of great relevance.
Room 14. Armament and naval artillery: examples of both portable and cannon firearms are shown. Appear, in turn, portraits of illustrious characters of the Naval Artillery such as José González Hontoria, a portrait that is already in the next room.

Room 15. Naval chronology: room dedicated to the History of the Navy of Spain, where it is shown in a large panel that explains, graphically, the events of the Navy throughout the History of Spain.

Room 16. Submarine weapon: a sample of the representatives of the submarine weapon are exhibited, such as the pieces dedicated to Narciso Monturiol and Isaac Peral, in addition to two torpedoes.

Room 17. Air Weapon: within the Navy of the 20th century the Air Weapon has been of increasing importance, with ships as representative as the two DÉDALO (aircraft carriers and aircraft carriers) and today with the Prince of Asturias aircraft carrier, with take-off / landing aircraft vertical Harrier, and finally a sample of the different helicopters in the service of the Navy.

Room 18. Models and models of sail: outstanding examples of historical ships, where a frigate model of 24 guns of the eighteenth century can be seen. In addition, a magnificent collection of models of sailboats in guayacán wood is exhibited.

Room 19. The Navy of the 20th Century: room dedicated to the Navy of the twentieth century and the great changes that occurred. Naval models, ship components, such as naval needles, components of a good collection of scientific instruments for sailing are exhibited. Highlights in this room a magnificent Aledo watercolor: <>. Pieces that frame a brief review of the Spanish Civil War are also shown. At the back of the room highlights the battle flag of the Dreadnought Carlos V, one of the most important pieces of the museum.

The guiding thread that develops the exhibition theme is the history of the Spanish Navy in the surroundings of the Bay of Cádiz and has been configured in the following thematic areas:

1. The historical context of the Navy in the Bay of Cádiz. Origins, shipbuilding and highlights.
2. Spanish participation in Guerra. Naval battles nationwide and overseas.
3. Navigation. The importance of scientific instruments and evolution to the present day. The Navy at the service of science: Scientific Expeditions and Cartography.
4. Illustrious characters.
5. Training of Spanish sailors. The Naval School, Petty Officer School, the Juan Sebastián de Elcano school ship.
6. Evolution of the Navy to the present day through the historical units located and with tradition in the surroundings of the Bay of Cádiz.