What is Catalonia Day (La Diada) about?
Barcelona is the capital of the region of Catalonia. This region of Spain is known for its rich tradition which makes locals very proud. From food to customs, this autonomous community stands out from the rest of the country. On September 11 of each year is celebrated “La Diada”, the national holiday of Catalonia. This annual event is something that most people get involved in, with most of the celebrations concentrated in the capital, Barcelona. Therefore, if you are in Barcelona on this date, we thought it best to give you the context of this historic event. Please keep in mind that any activity that takes place will require social distancing and masks will be mandatory! Nevertheless, there will be plenty of local celebrations to watch if you want to avoid the large crowds.
Information around the day
La Diada remembers the fall of Barcelona during the War of the Spanish Succession of 1714, when the Catalan region 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. It was a huge defeat that really marked the end of 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 started celebrating this day to remember what it means to be Catalan. This new tradition was commemorated in the same year with the construction of a statue in honor of the famous Catalan icon Rafael Casanova. Despite being a celebration of defeat rather than victory, most Catalans use it today to remember and appreciate the freedoms they have, as their ancestors did not have them.
La Diada in the 20th century
Although the Diada Nacional de Catalunya was institutionalized under the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), it will be one of the first things to be removed when dictator Francisco Franco comes to power, which also saw the Casanova monument be deleted. However, once the dictatorship ended, 1976 saw Catalonia’s National Day celebrated again for the first time in 40 years, and the Casanova monument was resurrected near the Arc de Triomf.
What to do on the Diada Nacional de Catalunya
Usually, when you attend Diada Barcelona, you are likely to see busy streets full of people waving Senyères (the flag of Catalonia) and estelades (a recognized flag of Catalan independence). In addition, many museums in the city are expected to continue to organize open days. A few to watch out for are (subject to change):
• the MCH History Museum of Catalonia
• Catalan parliamentary building (Parc de la Ciutadella)
• National Art Museum MNAC Catalunya (near Plaza Espanya)
• Palau de la Generalitat (Plaça de Sant Jaume)
• Born Cultural Center (where you can find an exhibition of Catalan traditions, including the famous Gegants (Catalan giants) and Casteller (human towers))
In addition, another tradition made in Barcelona sees councilors laying wreaths in tribute to troops who died defending Barcelona during the siege. These are usually posed 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 Santa María del Mar, on the Fossar de les Moreres square. This event is usually attended by members of the Generalitat (local government) and other senior politicians.
Many people travel from all over the Catalonia region to Barcelona, seeing the town of Condal as the center of activity and 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 Catalans national holiday. This means that you will likely see people carrying Catalan goods through the streets of Las Ramblas and Passeig de Gracia in the days before and after the event.
As mentioned before, it is a national holiday here, which means local businesses will be closed as the staff take a day off to realize their pride in being Catalan. It’s also important to note that shops and supermarkets will be operating at reduced times, which means you should be shopping the day before! That being said, most restaurants and bars will be functioning normally, as they hope to enjoy that party feeling! Catalans are known for their open nature and welcoming personalities, which is what makes La Diada so special – that if you want to observe the celebrations and want to know more, you can easily ask a local to explain what that is. means for them to be from this magnificent region.
We hope you have a good time if you find yourself in the Catalan capital for this year’s Diada, but we encourage you to learn about the subject before participating, so that you can appreciate why there is a such pride and a sense of attachment to the community!
Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at AB Apartment Barcelona. AB Apartment Barcelona is an apartment rental agency offering over a thousand short and long term apartments across Barcelona.
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