This year marks 200 years since the birth of Narcís Monturiol (1819-1885) in Figueres, known above all for inventing the Ictineu, the first air-independent, combustion-powered submarine.
To celebrate this remarkable achievement there will be a series of events and exhibitions to help better understand this illustrious character.
Monturiol started out studying medicine, but, in the end, graduated in law. His was a nonconformist, daring and innovative spirit, and, before being an inventor, Monturiol was a political activist, printer, editor, painter and politician. He was interested in utopian socialism, feminism, pacifism and communism; ideas he promoted in various publications.
With the revolutions of 1848 he was forced into exile in France and, following an amnesty, sought refuge in Cadaques. This was where, after witnessing the poor conditions of the coral divers, he began to contemplate the possibility of underwater navigation. In fact, Monturiol understood technological progress as a means for social progress, which was an idea common to the era’s machinery movement.
Unfortunately, despite the successful tests of his two Ictineus, the project had no support from a state unreceptive to science. The company he founded had to shut down and the Ictineu was sold as scrap metal. Nevertheless, his inventions contributed to the collective history of technology and the development of today’s submarines.