To the locals, this day is known as ‘La Diada’ and is held on the 11th of September every year to commemorate the loss of the laws and institutions in Catalonia in 1714.
The day festival celebrates the culture and history of the region and, in more recent years it has become a celebration of acknowledgement and the hope of Catalonia becoming an independent and a self sufficient district.
The celebration actually remembers the defeat that Barcelona faced during the war in 1714, the Spanish succession: Army of Catalonia against King Philip V.
In 1888, a statue of Rafael Casanova, the First Minister of the Catalonian government, was erected along with other significant individuals related to the important history of Catalonia outside the Parc de la Ciutadella. It now stands on the corner of Ronda de Sant Pere and is the focal point of offerings of flowers, especially during La Diada. The year 1888 was also the same year the first celebration of its kind took place.
During the nationalist dictatorship of Francisco Franco in 1939-1975, this day of commemoration was banned and some say was celebrated privately. However, this day was gradually becoming a day to protest against Franco and the regime in the late 1960s, early 1970s, until his death in the year 1975. After the period of Franco’s dictatorship, ‘La Diada’ was again openly celebrated without repression and was legally restored as a Catalan national symbol. It was recorded that over one million people took to the streets and chanted ‘Freedom, amnesty and Statue of Autonomy!’ as they marched proudly through the city.
Since 2000, there has been an event in Catalonia called the Festival of Freedom, however, it has only become popular from media since La Diada held in 2012.
The same year, more than 1.5 million people took to the streets
It can be said that in recent years, the event has become more politicalised in relation to the current political status of Catalonia.
On the day, many shops are closed, nearly all of them, there are many large crowds on the streets, street traffic disruption and on public transport.
People carry out the tradition of laying down wreaths and flowers in homage to pay respect to the Catalan soldiers who died during the war in 1714 at the base of the Rafael Casanova statue. The present and past presidents of Catalonia along with the mayor gather in the morning to show respect. Flowers are also laid at the tomb of Casanova and also near the Santa Maria del Mar Basilica.
You can also find concerts later in the evening at the Arc de Triumph.
Many museums also act as open house events on this day. Here are a few for usefulness!
– MNAC Catalunya National Art Museum (near Plaza Espanya) 10:00- 15:00
– Catalan Parliamentary Building (Parc de la Ciutadella) 10:00- 19:00
– MCH Catalonia History Museum 10:00- 14:30
– Palau de la Generalitat (Plaça de Sant Jaume) 10:30- 18:30