We arrive in Barcelona on Sept. 11 for 2 days. I'm looking at Airbnb's- are there quieter areas where we can still find open restaurants on that day? Other dos or don'ts for tourists on commemoration day? I am following current events there...thanks
If you're in Barcelona on Sept. 11th, or elsewhere in Catalonia, you can be a participant of a very special day for us Catalans and other local residents: LA DIADA, the National Day of Catalonia. As always, everybody is welcome to join and enjoy the activities.
**Background in a nutshell**
Contrary to what it might seem, Sept 11th is not a festival or a celebration of joy but it is, instead, a commemorative day, a day of remembrance, reflection and also self-determination and, most importantly, a day of reclaim for many Catalans. On Sept 11th, 1714, after a ferocious 15-month siege of the city, the Catalan armies and militias defending Barcelona had to capitulate to the Spanish and French armies to end the massacre to the civil population and to prevent the annihilation of the city.
This was one of the last episodes of a war started in 1701, known as the Spanish Succession War, resulting from a claim to the throne of the Spanish kingdoms, the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castille, by the House of Bourbon to the heirless Charles II from the House of Habsburg. Some statesmen across Europe regarded a dominant House of Bourbon (France) as a threat to European stability, jeopardizing the balance of power and soon enough two sides were created. One of them was spearheaded by the Crown of Aragon -lead by the House of Barcelona- and with the support of the powerful Austro-Hungarian empire, alongside England, Portugal, Scotland, the Dutch Republic, Prussia, and the European houses of Savoy and Hanover. On the other side, the Crown of Castille alongside France and the house of Bavaria and the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily.
The war-ravaged Europe and saw numerous battlefields across the continent. In a sense, this was the first true WW in which the most powerful empires of the world at the time were involved, preceding WWI for 200 years. The result of the war deeply changed the physiognomy of Europe and completely re-draw its territories giving way to a large portion of Europe we know now. In the Iberian Peninsula -the focus of the struggle- the changes were dramatic as the two contenders, the Crown of Aragon (a sort of confederacy of kingdoms and territories formed by Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands) and the Crown of Castille fought to the finish. With the defeat of the Catalan capital, Barcelona, the finale of the very successful 700 years old sort of confederacy, the Crown of Aragon, came to an abrupt end. In 1716, a vengeful Philip the Fifth, heir of the House of Bourbon, swiftly moved to annihilate the remains of any resistance, political, cultural or otherwise by suppressing the institutions, universities, privileges, and the ancient charters of almost all the areas that were formerly part of the Crown of Aragon thru the infamous Nueva Planta Treaty. This forceful unification of all the territories in the Iberian Peninsula -except Portugal which had won its independence in 1640... and Gibraltar, which was ceded to the United Kingdom as the result of the peace treaties- gave birth to the Kingdom of Spain, as it's known today.
**As a visitor...**
From a visitor point of view, Sept. 11th in Barcelona is an opportunity to see at first hand the claim of the Catalan people for their roots, their heritage and their future in a family-oriented day full of patriotic flower offerings, cultural activities (ie. Castellers, folk music...), historical reenactments and also political rallies. La Diada is always celebrated in a festive environment in which Catalans from all over Catalonia come to Barcelona to enjoy and express their pride and in which everybody: residents, migrants and visitors alike are welcome to join. For a peek at a previous Diada, see this video from 2014: infocatalonia.eu/w/6pNdr
Whether you relate or not to this highly patriotic commemorative day, the plasticity and visually striking characteristics of the events of this very special day are worth seeing. Furthermore, due to the current political climate in Spain, you might end up living in a truly historical event, one of those that will appear in the History books a few years down the road. Be part of it!
Yet, if you're not interested, most of the regular sites often visited by tourists will continue to be open albeit in the areas where the activities of our National Day are celebrated expect lots of people -in the hundreds of thousands- thus mobility can be challenging. As the date gets closer, google for the programme of the current year as it's celebrated in different locations throughout the city and not always in the same places.
The 2017 program included, among other:
>> SEPT 10th
9:30 pm at El Born, the Government and Parliament of Catalonia will hold an institutional act set that pays homage to the Human Rights, Democracy and Freedom. More details: web.gencat.cat/en/actualitat/reportatges/diada-Nacional-de-catalunya/index.html
>> SEPT 11th
9:00 am Laying of the wreath by the President of Catalonia, and later by the President of the Parliament, to the Rafael de Casanova monument, a hero of the Catalan resistance. Located in Ronda de Sant Pere, 41 -not far from Arc de Triomf. In this day, institutions, civil associations, political parties and thousands of citizens pay homage to this historical figure by making flower offerings to his monument during the whole morning.
9:00 am Parade of historical units of the Catalan armies of the 18th century by the members of the Miquelets de Catalunya and La Coronela de Barcelona, two historical re-enactment associations. At 9:00 Cavalry units at the Parc de la Ciutadella, 9:45 Infantry units at Plaça Nova (in front of the Cathedral) which will march towards Plaça Sant Jaume, 10:15 Presentation of the new regiment Reials Guàrdies Catalanes and gun salute at Plaça Sant Jaume, 10:30 parade of both infantry and cavalry towards the Monument of Rafael de Casanova, 11:15 return of the units to the area of El Born and Parc de La Ciutadella, with special mention of the parliaments, drills and singing of the Catalan National anthem at noon at the Fossar de Les Moreres, in front of Santa Maria del Mar church. The parade will end in Parc de la Ciutadella at 1pm. To be frank, I think these well-intended military enthusiasts are far too strict on the schedule... they know, year after year, that is far too tight and normally there are delays on the parade due to the large affluence of public in the streets of the centre of Barcelona during this day. Anyway, note this is a reenactment by private associations, not a government-sponsored act, thus don't expect the majesty and pomposity or the grandeur of military parades elsewhere. History buffs will thrill with the richness of the historical uniforms and their 18th-century weaponry, for the rest of mortals, it's a visually beautiful and fun thing to see. Period.
Some shots from parades in previous years... yep, I really am a history buff, LOL!
11:00 am-7:00 pm Open day at the Palau de la Generalitat (infocatalonia.eu/w/rcXpi) -our equivalent to the White House, as in that has been the centre of power in Catalonia since the 12th century - which is located in Plaça Sant Jaume, at the heart of the Old City, and also an open day at the Parliament (youtube.com/watch?v=5xjJ_TCWVAQ) in the Parc de la Ciutadella. Both are very historical buildings worthwhile visiting, yet expect a large number of visitors this day. They can also be visited on certain days during the month, also for free, but then pre-booking is necessary.
4:00 pm The large rally, the highlight of the day, will commence. Hundreds of thousands will start gathering along Passeig de Gràcia stretching to Plaça Catalunya and also at Carrer Aragó -two of the biggest avenues in Barcelona- to form a giant + (plus) sign on a carefully choreographed scenography very visually striking and on a very festive ambiance full of references to the coming indy referendum in October. Like every year, groups of Castellers, traditional folk music and other heritage demonstrations will be offered by many of the participants. There are over 2200 buses coming to this event with people from all over Catalonia, the train lines have been reinforced with a large number of additional convoys throughout the day and there are over 2500 volunteers in the street that will help to coordinate the event so it proceeds without a glitch -like every year, I must say. Note that in previous years, this event has congregated between 1.2 and 1.8 million people.
5:00 pm Four giant banners (55 ft x 55 ft each) will be displayed to support the coming referendum in Oct 1st, 2017 and the participants will display this year's bright yellow t-shirt. That'll be a unique photo opp for those photography aficionados to see a wave of hundreds of thousands.
5:40 pm in Plaça Catalunya, there'll be also a solemn commemorative act to remember the dead and injured of the jihadist terror attack occurred in Barcelona on August 17th, 2017 in which 16 resulted killed and 130 injured.
From 6:30 pm there'll be performances by several music groups such as Txarango, Jarabe de Palo, Els Pets and Green Valley -curious? google'em and you'll see.
Enjoy, and visca Catalunya!
-end of post-
PS: Apologies, I had to remove all the pictures of this post because of a display bug -which I've notified Trippy- by which they overlapped the text.