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The Maritime Museum in Split was founded in 1925. The rich maritime museum heritage later continued to develop through the Maritime Museum in Split and the Military and Naval Museum in Split. In addition to these museums that operated as independent institutions, there were also several collections of maritime heritage, with the underwater archeology collections and the shipbuilding museum that operated as part of the Split shipyard certainly worth mentioning.

As an independent institution, the Croatian Maritime Museum in Split is a direct successor of the various organizations that made up Split’s maritime museum heritage. The owner and founder of the Museum is the City of Split, and the formal decision to establish it was made by the City Council of the City of Split in 1997.

The museum researches, collects, preserves and presents the tangible and intangible maritime heritage of the Croatian Adriatic coast, from prehistory to the present day. It is located in an extremely valuable building complex - Gripe Fortress - a cultural monument, a unique completely preserved fortification in Split, built in the 17th century.

The courtyard of Gripe Fortress hosts numerous larger museum exhibits. The exterior is dominated by the bow of the steamship "Bakar", one of seven vessels from the museum’s holdings. The gaeta "Perina", built in 1857, was brought to the Museum directly from the sea and, as one of the oldest vessels on the eastern coast of the Adriatic in general, is testament to centuries of naval experience and tradition. In the courtyard of the fortress there are many other valuable objects particularly attractive for visitors.

In the part of the permanent exhibit dedicated to merchant shipping, we can follow the development of ships - sailing ships, rowing ships, steamships, motor-driven ships - from ancient to modern times. The exhibition opens with an ancient ceramic pot, "pithos", of impressive size, which was originally used to store food and which is part of the Museum's Collection of Underwater Finds. Ancient anchors and amphorae mostly come from shipwreck sites. The development of ships and navigation is showcased through various objects, particularly the models and pictures of sailing ships from Dubrovnik and Boka Kotorska, as well as other ships from the wider Dalmatian area. Figureheads belonging to sailing ships from Korčula dating to the 19th century are especially impressive.


The logbook from the expedition of the Austro-Hungarian sailing ship "Novara" from 1857 to 1859 and portraits of captains from the 19th century serve as testament to the voyages of Croatian sailors across distant seas.

Navigational equipment is represented by extraordinary examples of various items, with compasses and sextants standing out. Daily life on the sea is illustrated by the story of the tradition of fishing in the Adriatic: coral farming, sponge farming, fish canning factories, fishing hardships, but also “marende” (brunches).

The museum exhibition, in the part that follows merchant shipping, ends in the hall dedicated to steamships. Models of steamships and onboard items evoke the era of the first tourist trips on steamers, before the advent of diesel engines. In the same hall there is also the extremely valuable Collection of Ship Machinery, in which a special place certainly belongs to the first Croatian marine engines, made in the "Rossi" workshop in Split as early as the beginning of the 20th century.

Battles that took place in the Adriatic from Antiquity to the end of the 20th century are showcased in the part of the display dedicated to military naval history. The Illyrian liburna, the Roman bireme, the Omiš pirate ship, the Hvar galley "Sveti Jerolim" from the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 are just some of the models that carry the smell of salt mixed with gunpowder.

The inescapable Battle of Vis in 1866 is presented through original items from the battle. The Austro-Hungarian period up to World War I is represented by many valuable exhibits and works of art. For example, works featuring maritime themes by the painter Alexander Kircher are particularly noteworthy.

The First and Second World Wars in the Adriatic are presented by a large number of valuable and rare objects, while a special place belongs to the objects from naval battles from the Croatian War of Independence in 1991, as part of the Croatian Homeland War from 1990 to 1995.

The torpedo, the most modern weapon of its time made by Robert Whithead, according to the idea of ​​Ivan Lupis, in the torpedo factory in Rijeka in 1866, where it was produced for a full hundred years, concludes the journey through the Museum's permanent exhibit. Of special value is the fact that the oldest example of a torpedo in the world (from 1866) is on display in the Croatian Maritime Museum in Split, and that the Collection of Torpedoes, displayed as a whole in a special hall, is at the very top of the museum industry in terms of its value.





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