Diada de l’Onze de Setembre, Diada Nacional de Catalunya. (National Day of Catalonia)

The National Day of Catalonia (Festa Nacional de Catalunya or La Diada), marks the anniversary of the Bourbon forces’ recapture of Barcelona, which occurred on September 11, 1714. This is marked with a public holiday both in Barcelona and in the region of Catalonia, Spain. There is quite a strong support among part of the Catalan population to achieve full independence from Spain and there are many nationalist organisations that organise events to promote independence from Spain on 11th September.

The two biggest Catalan nationalist organisations, who usually organise separatist protest marches and demonstrations on 11th September, are the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and the Òmnium Cultural.

History of La Diada

The Catalans were defeated in the Siege of Barcelona on September 11, 1714. This was part of the War of the Spanish Succession between 1701 and 1714. Which marked the start of a period of French (Bourbon) rule in the area that is now the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia.

Catalonia shares international borders with France and Andorra. It also borders the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon and Valencia . The Autonomous Government of Catalonia was restored to power on December 31, 1979. Its first Act was to proclaim September 11 as the Day of Catalonia. The day was to be marked as a special day that represented the painful memories of the loss of liberties that occurred in 1714, the attitude of resistance to oppression, and the hope of recovery. The National Day of Catalonia was an official public holiday for the first time on September 11, 1980.

The Catalan National holiday was first celebrated on 11th September 1886. During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco it was officially suppressed from 1939. The Catalan autonomous community government reinstated the event in 1980 a full five years after Franco’s death in 1975.

Events on La Diada Nacional

  • Open house at Palau de la Generalitat on Plaça de Sant Jaume in the gothic quarter of Barcelona, from 10:30am to 6.30pm
  • Open house at the Catalan parliament building in Parc de la Ciutadella, from 10am to 7pm
  • The MNAC-Catalunya National Art Museum near Plaça Espanya is free to enter from 10am to 3pm
  • Free admission at MCH Catalonia History museum – Museu d’Historia de Catalunya from 10am to 2.30pm
  • Free admission at the Born Cultural Centre where at 11.30am you can enjoy a free half hour display of Catalan traditions including giants and the human towers
  • If the Diada falls on a Tuesday or Thursday local residents often take advantage of the holiday and leave the city for a long weekend called ‘Puente de la Diada
  • Organizations and political parties lay flowers and wreaths at monuments to Catalan heroes
  • There are meetings to pay homage to the soldiers who defended Barcelona during the War of the Spanish Succession
  • Political demonstrations
  • Communal meals of paella cooked in pans of four meters (12 feet) in diameter
  • There are usually concerts at 7pm at the independence festival “Festa per la Llibertat” at the Arc de Triomf monument on Passeig Lluís Companys

Many people, businesses and organizations also wave and display Catalan flags on this day. Catalonia’s flag is the Senyera. It consists of nine horizontal stripes. Five of these are yellow and four are red. The Senyera is also a symbol of the Crown of Aragon.

Legend of the Catalan flag

Many legends swirl around the colourful Guifré el Pélos (“Wilfred the Hairy”), who established himself as the first count of Barcelona in the ninth century. One such story is the bloody creation of the Catalan flag. As the legend goes: Guifré el Pélos was mortally wounded in a battle against the Normans. The Frankish king Charles the Bald wanted to pay tribute to the dying Guifré’s bravery by awarding him a coat of arms on the battlefield. The king is said to have dipped Guifré’s hands in his own freshly drawn blood, and then ran his fingers across the golden shield; hence the four bands of red on a yellow background.

You can find a small stone sculpture of Guifré el Pélos tucked away beside the north entrance of the Cathedral of Barcelona.

We love Barcelona. We love Catalonia. We want you to fall in love with it too.

Catalan flag - la diada
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