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Galion of the Soleil Royal

A galion is a railed platform that protrudes over the bow of a sailing ship. The first ships with Galion were built in Europe around 1500.

The Galion may have arisen from the ramming of the galleys , or perhaps part of the front structure of a carrack was cut down to make room for the operation of the blind man , a square sail that was driven under the bowsprit . The Galion became widespread with the development of the galleon .

If the Galion was initially functional and unadorned and grew straight out of the bow of the ship, it was made more and more elaborate, especially on the representative warships of the 17th and 18th centuries - with elegantly curved galion rails, gold-plated carvings and above all a figurehead which often depicted a personification or allegory of the ship's name.

Already in the 18th century, smaller ships often no longer had a galion, and in the 19th century it was gradually reduced to decorative rudiments on the larger ships as well . There was no longer a platform that could be walked on, as the blind sail was also not in use. However, well into the 21st century there are occasional ships that do not have a galion but a figurehead. Examples of this are the German passenger steamer Imperator from 1912, the bow of which was adorned with a huge bronze eagle clutching a globe, or the new Gorch Fock with an albatross as a figurehead.