While elsewhere September 11th is generally associated with the attacks on the twin towers, it is completely different in Barcelona, where it’s the national holiday of Catalonia. It is only celebrated in this region and it is very important to the Catalan people.
National holiday 11th of September: history and significance
Origins of the September 11th Diada
September 11th, generally called the “national holiday” or “Diada” is the day chosen by the Catalan people to celebrate their national identity. Which is curious when you think that September 11th commemorates the date when Barcelona fell to the Bourbon troops after 14 months of siege, leading directly to the abolition of the Catalan institutions.
In fact it was in 1886 that September 11th was commemorated for the first time. The celebration took place at the Santa María del Mar church, in remembrance of the Catalan people who died defending the city from invaders. They are effectively considered martyrs, who died to save the Catalan identity, institutions and values. This is what the Catalan people celebrate on this date rather than defeat by the Bourbons.
Current significance of September 11th in Catalonia
Forbidden during Franco’s dictatorship, the celebration of September 11th was taken up with renewed force after his death. In 1980, the Catalan parliament officially made it the national holiday, including it in its laws. The Catalan symbols include this holiday, its anthem and the flag.
These days September 11th is not just a popular holiday, but also the chance for separatists to demonstrate. For example, since 2013, a human chain has been organised across Catalonia symbolising the path to independence. Many other demonstrations are also planned in the region.
September 11th celebrations
September 11th is a very lively holiday: the streets are filled with families and groups of friends and many activities. Between demonstrations for Catalan independence, free concerts, and traditional dances in the Parc de la Ciutadella, there is a lot going on!
- This year, Catalan artists such as Jarabe de Palo and Txarango will be playing from 6.30pm on the Passeig Lluís Companys after the demonstration for the independence of Catalonia.
The Catalan Parliament and the Government have open-door days. It’s a great chance to discover these beautiful buildings located at the Parc de la Ciutadella and at Plaça Sant Jaume in the Gothic district respectively.
- Museums like MNAC, the Barcelona History museum and the Palau Güell also open their doors, so enjoy!
Visiting Barcelona on September 11th
- September 11th is a lovely holiday as tourist attractions stay open. So you won’t have any planning problems there!
- However, public transport is less frequent than normal. Traffic problems are inevitable in Barcelona and the main roads of Catalonia (notably due to the human chain). If possible, avoid taking the car or a taxi.
- Many restaurants are closed on September 11th but there is still some choice, particularly in more popular areas like around the Passeig de Gràcia, the Rambla Catalunya or close to the beach.
- If you had planned to go shopping on this day, head to the Maremagnum, the only shopping centre open every day of the year.