Nao Victoria Museum – Punta Arenas, Chile - Atlas Obscura
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Punta Arenas, Chile

Nao Victoria Museum

A display of hand-built replicas of the legendary vessels used by Patagonian and Antarctic explorers. 

Rising unexpectedly from an industrial park by the windswept shores of the Strait of Magellan is a full-size replica of Ferdinand Magellan’s Nao Victoria carrack, the first ship to circumnavigate the Earth. The replica is the earliest in a series of four marvelous maritime models at this surprisingly poignant museum.

After the public was first invited aboard in 2011, this impressive replica was joined by a replica of the Chilean Schooner, the Ancud. Under the captaincy of John Williams Wilson, the original Ancud undertook the voyage that claimed the Strait of Magellan, a tortuous sea passage between the Atlantic and Pacific, for the Chilean Republic in 1843.

Building on the success of these first floating facsimiles, the museum commissioned a replica of the tiny lifeboat that saved Ernest Shackleton’s team of British polar explorers from an Antarctic shipwreck, followed by a full scale reproduction of Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle, which extensively surveyed the cruel seas around Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia in the 19th century. The Beagle’s first captain, Pringle Stokes, died by suicide while surveying this harsh and unforgiving environment and is buried at nearby Puerto del Hambre (Port Famine). 

The painstakingly faithful replica vessels are complemented by static and dynamic displays intended to give visitors an insight into the hardships endured by the pioneering sailors, explorers, and scientists who risked their lives in some of Earth’s most treacherous stretches of water.

Know Before You Go

The museum is en route from Punta Arenas Airport to the city center and one of the first sights to greet visitors entering the city from the North. Which, given the city's location, is practically everyone. It's open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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