Spanish galleon visits North East with invitation to explore its on board treasures

A magnificent Spanish galleon will be on show to local visitors from this week as it sails into the region for a three-week visit.

The Galeon Andalucía, which is on a tour of UK ports, is to open first to visitors at a temporary home at Dun Cow Quay in Blyth, Northumberland, on Wednesday where the six-deck historic ship - described as a floating museum - will be inviting guests over its gangplank until the end of the week. Then from next Tuesday it will be moored at Spiller's Quay on Newcastle quayside for a stay of almost a fortnight.

The North East leg of the galleon's tour will offer plenty opportunities for local people to explore what is a 17th Century replica, created with painstaking care, of the kind of vessel used on voyages of discovery during the 16th-18th centuries. In them, Spanish explorers and traders would sail the high seas of the Indies.

Their look will be familiar to anyone who has watched seafaring action films over the years and the mighty vessel no doubt will be a huge draw for families wanting to experience what life was like on board. Measuring more than 160ft long - roughly the width of a football pitch - and, at 500 tonnes, being as heavy as around 50 double-decker buses, the galleon is a dramatic sight, boasting a wooden hull, three masts and seven huge sails.

Such ships were innovative in their day, having been built to sail vast distances across the oceans with heavy loads of armoury on board. Their maritime expeditions required hundreds of seamen while other sailors could be merchants or settlers. The Galeón Andalucía, which is owned by the Spanish Nao Victoria Foundation, has a crew of between 15 and 35 people who sail around the world and help explain to visitors about the ship and Spanish naval history.

The Galeón Andalucía will be open to visitors in Blyth daily from June 19-23 between 10am and 8pm and those interested in hopping on board are advised to book online in advance although tickets also will be available to buy on the ship. Its Newcastle visit will then see it sail up the Tyne where the best vantage point to view it is expected to be Spiller’s Quay near the Cycle Hub in the Ouseburn.

There it will be open from visits from June 25 until July 7 during the same hours as in Blyth. Tariq Albassam, director of operations at NE1 Ltd which helped arrange the city visit with Newcastle City Council and the Port of Tyne, said: "It will be a true spectacle to see this historic vessel in full sail on the Tyne and then moored on the quayside.

"We are excited to give the people of Newcastle, a city famous for links with ship-building and the ocean, the chance to see such a historic vessel and have the chance to board the floating museum - a truly unique experience.” Lord Mayor of Newcastle Coun Rob Higgins called the galleon "a truly fantastic example of a ship of its time" and Fernando Viota, director of logistics for the Galeón Andalucía tour, said the upcoming visit is "a pleasure" for the team.

"We are sure that everyone who visits the Galeón Andalucía will be amazed by the history hidden between its decks and its magnificent historical recreation," he added. Tickets to visit the galleon cost £12 for adults; £6 for five to 10-year-olds and £30 for a family of two adults and up to three children.

Under-fives can be taken along for free. To book see here and anyone interested in arranging guided visits for schools or associations is invited to email for information.