The galley

3d model and reconstruction

The galley

Virtual reconstruction of a Venetian galley of the type used in the battle of Lepanto.

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Short history of

The galley

The ships of medieval Europe were generally evolved from the Roman ones. Galley formed the typical warship of the Middle Ages, perfected in the Mediterranean area, in particular by the Genoese and by the Venetians.

The big Venetian galleys (500 tons) was an exceptional multifunction vehicle, with about 50 meters long and 7 meters wide narrow hull, low over the water and with a draft of 2 meters. Fast and light, it was equipped with auxiliary lateen sails raised on short shafts (one or two). But the most important propulsion system was constituted by rowers, arranged in 25-30 benches for rowing on each side. Suitable for the transport of valuable goods, it was especially used in trade with the East. Thanks to the great manoeuvrability, it combined merchant and defence needs. It met sailors and rowers with warriors, archers and officials. Until the mid-sixteenth century it used a single rower oar: two or three of these oars, leaning in close oarlocks, for each bank of each side (so two or three or four men per deck) created respectively bireme, trireme and quadrireme galleys.