A model of a Maltese design typical of the 16th century, the last great era of the war galley in the Mediterranean Sea
The English-built Charles Galley, a "galley frigate" built in the 1670s. It was not a "true" galley, but the term still became part of its name due to its oars.
Watercolor of United States ships at the Battle of Valcour Island, depicting several "row galleys"; similar function, but based on very different designs from Mediterranean galleys.
Assyrian warship, a bireme with pointed bow. 700 BC
Dionysus riding on a small galley-like craft in a painting from the Dionysus cup by Exekias, from c. 530 BC
A reconstruction of an ancient Greek galley squadron based on images of modern replica Olympias
A Roman naval bireme in a relief from the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia in Praeneste, (Palastrina) built c. 120 BC, (in the Museo Pio-Clementino).
Odysseus and the Sirens, Ulixes mosaic at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, Tunisia, 2nd century AD
Two compact liburnians used by the Romans in the campaigns against the Dacians in the early 2nd century AD; relief from Trajan's Column, c. 113 AD.
Triumph of Poseidon and Amphitrite: the couple in procession, mosaic detail from Cirta, Roman Africa, ca. 315–325 AD, (in the Louvre)
Venetian great galley with three sails taking pilgrims to Jerusalem (Conrad Grünenberg 1486/7).
A 3D model of the basic hull structure of a Venetian "galley of Flanders", a large trading vessel of the 15th century. The reconstruction by archaeologist Courtney Higgins is based on measurements given in contemporary ship treatises.
Illustration of a 15th-century trade galley from a manuscript by Michael of Rhodes (1401–1445) written in 1434.
Painting of the Battle of Haarlemmermeer of 1573 by Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom. Note the use of small sailing vessels and galleys on both sides.
Ottoman galleys in battle with raiding boats in the Black Sea; Sloane 3584 manuscript, c. 1636
The Battle of Lepanto in 1571, naval engagement between allied Christian forces and the Ottoman Turks.
French ship under attack by Barbary pirates, c. 1615
Dutch ships ramming Spanish galleys in the Battle of the Narrow Seas, October 1602.
A painting of the Battle of Grengam in 1720 by Ferdinand Perrot (1808–41) showing a large Russian galley engaging Swedish frigates at close range. Note the crowded fighting platform (rambade) in the bow.
A galley from Banten, 1598. The galley has balai (raised fighting platform). Four cetbang can be seen.
Illustration of an Egyptian rowed ship of c. 1250 BC. Due to a lack of a proper keel, the vessel has a truss, a thick cable along its length, to prevent it from losing its shape.
A schematic view of the mortise and tenon technique for shipbuilding that dominated the Mediterranean until the 7th century AD.
The stern of the modern trireme replica Olympias with twin side rudders
The Athlit ram, a preserved original warship ram from around 530–270 BC. It weighs nearly half a tonne and was probably fitted to a "five" or a "four".
14th-century painting of a light galley, from an icon now at the Byzantine and Christian Museum at Athens
A Venetian galea sottile from the late 15th century from Vittore Carpaccio's Return of the Ambassadors in the series Legend of Saint Ursula (1497–1498). Note the oars arranged in groups of three according to the alla sensile rowing method.
The ubiquitous bow fighting platform (rambade) of early modern galleys. This model is of a 1715 Swedish galley, somewhat smaller than the standard Mediterranean war galley, but still based on the same design.
Modern reconstruction of a cross-section of an ancient Greek trireme, showing the three levels of rowers.
Model of a Venetian three-banked galley rowed alla sensile, with three rowers sharing a bench but handling one oar each
An illustration from 1643 showing the layout of rowing benches as well and placement of rowers on a galley with 16 pairs of oars. It also shows a rower at the top of the stroke using the standing rowing technique typical of a scaloccio rowing.
The ram bow of the trireme Olympias, a modern full-scale reconstruction of a classical Greek trireme.
The Byzantine fleet repels the Rus' attack on Constantinople in 941. The Byzantine dromons are rolling over the Rus' vessels and smashing their oars with their spurs.
Byzantine ship attacking with Greek fire. Madrid Skylitzes manuscript, 11th century.
Battle between Venetian and Holy Roman fleets; detail of fresco by Spinello Aretino 1407–1408.
Contemporary depiction of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 that shows the strict formations of the opposing fleets. Fresco in the Gallery of Maps in Vatican Museum.
The Galley Subtle, one of the very few Mediterranean-style galleys employed by the English. This illustration is from the Anthony Roll (c. 1546) and was intended as its centerpiece.
Gouache of a late 17th-century French royal galley. The vessel is richly decorated with red and blue damask, brocade, and velvet for the stern canopy and flags, and carved gilded ornaments on railings, outrigger, and hull.
La Liberté, a full-scale replica of a 17th-century galley in Switzerland, though without any rowing benches

Type of ship that is propelled mainly by oars.

- Galley

500 related topics



Mediterranean sailing ship that was used mostly for trading.

A xebec with three lateens and oars
Greek-Ottoman xebec
Sail plan for a polacre-xebec
Squared-rigged xebec of the 1780-1815 period

Xebecs were ships similar to galleys primarily used by Barbary pirates, which have both lateen sails and oars for propulsion.


Fleet of triremes made up of photographs of the modern full-sized replica Olympias
Phoenician warship with two rows of oars, relief from Nineveh, ca. 700 BC
The Lenormant Relief, from the Athenian Acropolis, depicting the rowers of an aphract Athenian trireme, ca. 410 BC. Found in 1852, it is one of the main pictorial testaments to the layout of the trireme.
A Greek trireme
Trireme, illustration from book Nordisk familjebok
Model of a Greek trireme
A Roman mosaic from Tunisia showing a trireme vessel during the Roman Empire
The mortise and tenon joint method of hull construction employed in ancient vessels.
Bronze trireme ram
Depiction of the position and angle of the rowers in a trireme. The form of the parexeiresia, projecting from the deck, is clearly visible.
A schematic view of what the circular kyklos formation would have looked like from above.
Coin minted by the Romano-Britannic usurper-emperor Allectus (r. 293-296 AD), depicting a trireme on the reverse
Olympias, a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme
Olympias, a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme

A trireme (derived from Latin: trirēmis "with three banks of oars"; 'triērēs, literally "three-rower") was an ancient vessel and a type of galley that was used by the ancient maritime civilizations of the Mediterranean Sea, especially the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans''.

Battle of Lepanto

Naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic states arranged by Pope Pius V, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras.

The Battle of Lepanto, Paolo Veronese
The banner of the Holy League, flown by John of Austria on his flagship Real. It is made of blue damask interwoven with gold thread, of a length of 7.3 m and a width of 4.4 m at the hoist. It displays the crucified Christ above the coats of arms of Pius V, of Venice, of Charles V, and of John of Austria. The coats of arms are linked by chains symbolizing the alliance.
Order of battle of the two fleets, with an allegory of the three powers of the Holy League in the foreground, fresco by Giorgio Vasari (1572, Sala Regia).
Depiction of the Ottoman Navy, detail from the painting by Tommaso Dolabella (1632)
One of the Venetian Galleasses at Lepanto (1851 drawing, after a 1570s painting).
Plan of the Battle (formation of the fleets just before contact)
Fresco in the Vatican's Gallery of Maps
The Victors of Lepanto, John of Austria, Marcantonio Colonna and Sebastiano Venier (anonymous oil painting, c. 1575, formerly in Ambras Castle, now Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
Jacopo Ligozzi, The Return of the Knights of Saint Stephen from the Battle of Lepanto (c. 1610, Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, Pisa)
Battle of Lepanto by Martin Rota, 1572 print, Venice
Felipe II offers Prince Fernando to Victory by Titian, c. 1572–1575, Museo del Prado, Madrid
Monument to John of Austria in Messina
The Battle of Lepanto by Andrea Vicentino (c. 1600, Doge's Palace, Venice)
The Battle of Lepanto by Tommaso Dolabella (c. 1625–1630, Wawel Castle, Cracow)
The Battle of Lepanto by Andries van Eertvelt (1640)
The Battle of Lepanto by Juan Luna (1887, Spanish Senate, Madrid)
The Battle of Lepanto by Tintoretto
The Battle of Lepanto by anonymous
The Battle of Lepanto by Giorgio Vasari

In the history of naval warfare, Lepanto marks the last major engagement in the Western world to be fought almost entirely between rowing vessels, namely the galleys and galleasses which were the direct descendants of ancient trireme warships.


A Spanish xebec (center) attacked by two Algerian galiotes (1738)
A Dutch galiot from Willaumez's Dictionnaire de la Marine in the 17th century
A galiote, or scute, transporting wine on a French river during the 18th century

A galiot, galliot or galiote, was a small galley boat propelled by sail or oars.


Type of warship.

Light frigate, circa 1675–1680
, of Louis Antoine de Bougainville
Gun deck of the frigate
(1817) a restored British 18-pounder, 38-gun heavy frigate
USS Constitution.
, the first iron-hulled armoured steam frigate – the hull survived as an oil terminal dock and was restored to its original appearance in the late 20th century
French paddle frigate
The U.S. Navy patrol frigate USS Gallup (PF-47) at San Pedro, California, on 30 May 1944
Royal Canadian Navy escorting the American aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) across the Pacific Ocean in 2008
The Ecuadorian Navy BAE Morán Valverde, formerly the Chilean Navy's
USS Leahy (DLG-16) departing San Diego, California, in May 1978. She was classified as a guided-missile frigate (DLG-16) until 1975, when she was reclassified as a guided-missile cruiser (CG-16).
of the Royal Navy. Type 23 frigates were built for anti-submarine warfare but are capable multi-purpose ships.
The stealthy of the Indian Navy
The stealthy of the French Navy that introduced the Stealth Technology in the early 1990s
Baden-Württemberg, an of the German Navy; currently the biggest frigates worldwide.
USS Independence (LCS-2), an of the United States Navy
Italian FREMM multipurpose frigates Luigi Rizzo
UMS King Sin Phyu Shin, the second ship of of Myanmar Navy.

The term "frigate" (Italian: fregata; Dutch: fregat; Spanish/Catalan/Portuguese/Sicilian: fragata; French: frégate) originated in the Mediterranean in the late 15th century, referring to a lighter galley-type warship with oars, sails and a light armament, built for speed and maneuverability.

Naval warfare

Combat in and on the sea, the ocean, or any other battlespace involving a major body of water such as a large lake or wide river.

Battle between the British frigate Shannon and the American frigate Chesapeake, painted in 1836 by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg and depicting the capture of USS Chesapeake.
Scene from an Egyptian temple wall shows Ramesses' combined land and sea victory in the Battle of the Delta.
An ancient Greek trireme vessel
The epic Battle of Salamis between Greek and Persian naval forces.
A Roman naval bireme depicted in a relief from the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia in Praeneste (Palastrina), which was built c. 120 BC; exhibited in the Pius-Clementine Museum (Museo Pio-Clementino) in the Vatican Museums.
The naval battle of Sluys, 1340, from Jean Froissart's Chronicles
A Song dynasty louchuan with a trebuchet, depicted in the Wujing Zongyao
A Chinese paddle-wheel driven ship, from a Qing dynasty encyclopedia published in 1726
A 17th-century model of Vietnamese "Mông đồng" ship. The vessel appears to be propelled by a score of oars and armed with one bombard and a smaller culverin. The roof is recorded to be protected against projectiles with hide or bronze plates.
Full size replica of Borobudur ship of the 8th century AD. This one had gone to expedition to Ghana in 2003–2004, reenacting the Srivijayan and Medang navigation and exploration.
Japanese samurai attacking a Mongol ship, 13th century
A replica of Korean turtle ship
An Eastern Han (25–220 AD) Chinese pottery boat fit for riverine and maritime sea travel, with an anchor at the bow, a steering rudder at the stern, roofed compartments with windows and doors, and miniature sailors.
The early-17th-century galleon Vasa on display at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. Vasa, with its high stern castle and double battery decks, was a transitional design between the preferences for boarding tactics and the line of battle.
The Battle of the Saintes fought on 12 April 1782 near Guadeloupe
The Dutch fleet relieves Copenhagen after defeating the Swedes in the Battle of the Sound
The 1805 Battle of Trafalgar
The first battle between ironclads: CSS Virginia/Merrimac (left) vs. USS Monitor, in 1862 at the Battle of Hampton Roads
The Battle of Bomarsund during the Åland War (1854–1856), the part of the Crimean War. A sketch of the quarter deck of HMS Bulldog in Bomarsund, Edwin T. Dolby, 1854
, the first dreadnought battleship
and during the air attack
Aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) under heavy air attack during the Battle of the Coral Sea, the first carrier-versus-carrier battle in history.
Aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) hit by an aerial torpedo during the Battle of Midway
Battle of Savo Island was the first in a series of night-time engagements between surface warships during the Solomon Islands campaign.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) launches an F-14 Tomcat while F/A-18 Hornets wait their turn during the Kosovo War
in the Persian Gulf (1991)
A United States Naval Landing Craft Air Cushion in the Pacific Ocean (2012)

There were a number of sea battles between galleys; at Rhium, Naupactus, Pylos, Syracuse, Cynossema, Cyzicus, Notium.


Naval watercraft designed for the express purpose of carrying one or more guns to bombard coastal targets, as opposed to those military craft designed for naval warfare, or for ferrying troops or supplies.

Union ironclad river gunboats assault the Confederates at Fort Donelson on February 1862, during the American Civil War.
A model of a type of decked "gun yawl" designed by Fredrik Henrik af Chapman and used by the Swedish archipelago fleet
The screw gunboat USS Alliance (1877), circa 1880.
, a gunboat diplomat in the Agadir Crisis of 1911
HMS Ladybird (with larger-calibre guns installed in 1939).
Russian postage stamp issued in 2013, showing the Soviet Project 1125 armoured boat BKA-75. Launched in 1940, it served with the Ladoga Flotilla, Volga Flotilla, Azov Flotilla and Danube Flotilla. In 1943 BKA-75 was awarded the status of a Guards unit.
Point Gammon gets a camouflage coat of dark grey paint at Da Nang, October 1965, for its conversion from Coast Guard use to Vietnam War river patrol duties.

The two countries clashed during the Russo-Swedish war of 1788–90, a conflict that culminated in the massive Battle of Svensksund in 1790, in which over 30,000 men and hundreds of gunboats, galleys and other oared craft took part.


Implement used for water-borne propulsion.

Traditional wooden oars
A pair of carbon fibre sculling oars used for sport rowing
Trophy oars of the seven founding member clubs of the Remenham Club
Crossed silver oars in the coat of arms of Enonkoski

Some ancient vessels were propelled by both oars and sail, depending on the speed and direction of the wind.

Human power

Work or energy that is produced from the human body.

A hybrid battery/hand-crank radio by Philips.
British penal treadwheel
A mechanically powered flashlight. This uses a linear generator and is charged by shaking along its long axis.
BC-778 "Gibson Girl" radio transmitter.
U.S. soldiers during WWII powering radio set using GN-45 hand crank generator
The original Baygen clockwork radio with crank in winding position
Pedal radio being used in South Solitary Island lighthouse, to communicate with Norah Head Lightstation, 1946

The historical galley was propelled by freemen or citizens in ancient times, and by slaves captured by pirates in more recent times.

Mediterranean Sea

Sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant.

Map of the Mediterranean Sea
Greek (red) and Phoenician (yellow) colonies in antiquity c. the 6th century BC
The Roman Empire at its farthest extent in AD 117
The Battle of Lepanto, 1571, ended in victory for the European Holy League against the Ottoman Turks.
The bombardment of Algiers by the Anglo-Dutch fleet in support of an ultimatum to release European slaves, August 1816
Borders of the Mediterranean Sea
Approximate extent of the Mediterranean drainage basin (dark green). Nile basin only partially shown
Map of the Mediterranean Sea from open Natural Earth data, 2020
Alexandria, the largest city on the Mediterranean
Barcelona, the second largest metropolitan area on the Mediterranean Sea (after Alexandria) and the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean
The Acropolis of Athens with the Mediterranean Sea in the background
The ancient port of Jaffa (now in Tel Aviv-Yafo), from which the biblical Jonah set sail before being swallowed by a whale
Catania, Sicily, Italy, with Mount Etna in the background
İzmir, the third metropolis of Turkey (after Istanbul and Ankara)
Africa (left, on horizon) and Europe (right), as seen from Gibraltar
Positano, Italy, Tyrrhenian Sea
View of the Saint George Bay, and snow-capped Mount Sannine from a tower in the Beirut Central District
The Port of Marseille seen from L'Estaque
Sarandë, Albania, stands on an open-sea gulf of the Ionian sea in the central Mediterranean.
The two biggest islands of the Mediterranean: Sicily and Sardinia (Italy)
Predominant surface currents for June
A submarine karst spring, called vrulja, near Omiš; observed through several ripplings of an otherwise calm sea surface.
Messinian salinity crisis before the Zanclean flood
The thermonuclear bomb that fell into the sea recovered off Palomares, Almería, 1966
Stromboli volcano in Italy
The reticulate whipray is one of the species that colonised the Eastern Mediterranean through the Suez Canal as part of the ongoing Lessepsian migration.
A cargo ship cruises towards the Strait of Messina
Port of Trieste
Kemer Beach in Antalya on the Turkish Riviera (Turquoise Coast). In 2019, Turkey ranked sixth in the world in terms of the number of international tourist arrivals, with 51.2 million foreign tourists visiting the country.
Coast of Alexandria, view From Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt
Beach of Hammamet, Tunisia
The beach of la Courtade in the Îles d'Hyères, France
Sardinia's south coast, Italy
Pretty Bay, Malta
Panoramic view of Piran, Slovenia
Panoramic view of Cavtat, Croatia
View of Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina
A view of Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Ksamil Islands, Albania
Navagio, Greece
Ölüdeniz, Turquoise Coast, Turkey
Paphos, Cyprus
Burj Islam Beach, Latakia, Syria
A view of Raouché off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon
A view of Haifa, Israel
Old city of Ibiza Town, Spain
Les Aiguades near Béjaïa, Algeria
El Jebha, a port town in Morocco
Europa Point, Gibraltar
Panoramic view of La Condamine, Monaco
Sunset at the Deir al-Balah beach, Gaza Strip

This was the last naval battle to be fought primarily between galleys.