Barcelona is the capital city of the region of Catalonia. This region in Spain is known for its rich tradition that gives the locals immense pride. From foods, to customs, this autonomous community stands out from the rest of the country. On 11th September every year, “La Diada” is celebrated, the national day of Catalunya. This annual event is something that most people get involved in, with most celebrations focused in the capital, Barcelona. Therefore, if you find yourself in Barcelona on this date, we thought best to give you the background to this historic event. Please bear in mind that any activities taking place will require social distancing and masks will be compulsory! Nonetheless, there will be plenty of local celebrations taking place for you to observe if you wish to avoid large crowds.
Information around the day
La Diada remembers the fall of Barcelona during the War of the Spanish Succession of 1714, when the region of Catalan lost authority over its own institutions and laws. These signs of sovereignty would be lost to the central governance of Spain after a 14 day siege between the Army of Catalonia and the army of Spain, who fought for King Philip V. This was a huge defeat that really marked the end to the principality of Catalonia.
In the years that followed, the taste of defeat still left a bitter taste. However, in 1886, the people of Catalonia began to celebrate the day as a way of remembering what it means to be Catalan. This new tradition was commemorated in the same year with a statue being built in honour of the famous Catalan icon Rafael Casanova. Despite being a celebration of defeat, rather than one of victory, most Catalans nowadays use it to remember and appreciate the liberties they have, as their ancestors did not have them.
La Diada in the 20th Century
Although the Diada Nacional de Catalunya became institutionalised under the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), it would be one of the first things to be suppressed when the dictator Francisco Franco came to power, something which also saw the monument of Casanova being removed. However, once the dictatorship had ended, 1976 saw the National Day of Catalonia was celebrated again for the first time in some 40 years, and Casanova’s monument was resurrected near Arc de Triomf.
What to do on Diada Nacional de Catalunya
Usually, when attending the Diada Barcelona, you are likely to see busy streets full of people waving the senyeres (the flag of Catalonia) and estelades (a recognised flag of Catalan independence). In addition to this, there are many museums in the city that are expected to continue hosting open house events. A few to look out for are (subject to changes):
• MCH Catalonia History Museum
• Catalan Parliamentary Building (Parc de la Ciutadella)
• MNAC Catalunya National Art Museum (near Plaza Espanya)
• Palau de la Generalitat (Plaça de Sant Jaume)
• Born Cultural Centre (where you can find a display of Catalan traditions including the famous Gegants (Catalan giants) and Castellers (human towers))
Furthermore, another tradition done in Barcelona sees councillors lay wreaths in homage to the troops who died defending Barcelona during the siege. These are usually laid by the monument of Rafael Casanova (at the junction of Carrer d’Alí Bei and Ronda de Sant Pere) and the memorial dedicated to these troops just outside the Santa María del Mar, on plaza Fossar de les Moreres. This event is usually attended by members of the Generalitat (local government) and other senior politicians.
Many people travel from all over the region of Catalonia to Barcelona, seeing the Condal City as the hub of activity and the representative of the whole community. Therefore, it is common for people to come for a few days and soak up the emotion and excitement surrounding this national holiday for Catalans. This means that you will likely see people wearing Catalan merchandise in the streets of Las Ramblas and Passeig de Gracia in the days before and after the event.
As mentioned before, this is a national holiday here, meaning that local companies will be closed as the staff take a day off to realise their pride in being Catalan. It is important to also note that shops and supermarkets will be operating on reduced hours as a result, meaning that you should get your groceries the day before! With that being said, most restaurants and bars will operate as normal as they hope to capitalise on this feeling of celebration! Catalans are known for their open nature and welcoming personalities, this is what makes La Diada extra special- that if you wish to observe the celebrations and want to learn more, you can easily ask a local to elaborate on what it means to them to be from this amazing region.
We hope that you have a fun time if you find yourself in the Catalan Capital for this years’ Diada, but we encourage doing some learning around the topic before attending, so that you can appreciate the reason why there is such pride and a feeling of attachment to the community!
Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at AB Apartment Barcelona. AB Apartment Barcelona is an apartment rental agency offering over one thousand short and long term apartments across Barcelona.