Located near the coast in the Bat Galim area of Haifa, the National Maritime Museum details the long and interesting maritime history of the Eastern Mediterranean. I guess I should add that this was our Plan B for the day- Landon really wanted to go to the “Navy” museum (Museum of Clandestine Immigration and History of the Israeli Navy) but they required passports to enter because the museum is operated by the Department of Defense. Anyway, the front of the museum was set up like an old sailing ship, complete with cannons and rigging. The ticket counter is to the right at the entrance, with a few gifts and souvenirs for sale. On the entrance floor, there is a temporary exhibition space. When we visited, the exhibit featured 19th century drawings and paintings of Jerusalem. It was interesting to see how undeveloped the city was a few hundred years ago! Almost immediately, Landon was drawn downstairs by pirate and undersea dioramas. The whole museum was stroller accessible and friendly with an elevator, however, we arrived at the same time as a large group of students so the way to the elevator was blocked by kids sitting and eating a snack. Since there were only a few visitors, I took our valuables with us and ditched the stroller by the stairs.
Downstairs, there was a very cool pirate exhibit with several life size dioramas detailing different aspects of pirate life. We learned all about various pirate ships, captains, and the weapons and equipment they used for their voyages. There was a whole room full of handicrafts that sailors and pirates created during down time on the boat, including a few carved narwhal horns!
There were really cool swords and scabbards from all over the Mediterranean. They were all shapes and the scabbards were made out of all sorts of interesting materials including snakeskin and etched metal. Next to the pirate exhibit was a history of shipping in Israel. There were models of many large and small shipping vessels that were used throughout the years. Some shipping vessels were refurbished cruise ships! Also on the 1st floor was a small maps exhibit, which looked interesting for me, but did not catch Landon’s interest so we did not spend much time there.
Next up we took the elevator to the 3rd floor (one floor above the entrance), which focused on ancient seafaring. We saw pottery and anchors that were tens of thousands of years old! There were several sarcophagi, including this sarcophagus for a child with cupids carved on the side.
We were amazed at how many amazing artifacts were pulled out of the sea! There was a wide variety of artifacts spanning thousands of years and many different countries. Some notable ones for me were the neat Greek vases! I also learned that ancient Greek warships were powered by oarmen and had a large, metal battering ram on the front. That’s how ancient sea battles were fought! Yikes!
After visiting this museum, Landon was inspired to do archaeological digs on the seashore and he even found some “pottery shards”. Our visit only took an hour or two, but we learned so much about the maritime history of the region from tens of thousands of years ago to now. There are so many amazing things to do and see in Israel, but check out this museum and the Clandestine Immigration museum next door if you find yourself in Haifa with kids for a few days. Both museums are small enough to check out in a morning, and still have time to hit the beach in the afternoon!