Our second full day in Barcelona coincided with La Diada, also known as the National Day of Catalonia, a day-long festival which commemorates the defeat of Catalonia during the War of the Spanish Succession. This year’s celebrations were special in that it was the 300th anniversary and included an independence demonstration which involved around 2 million people.
To be completely honest, Martin and I weren’t aware that the 11th of September was La Diada, let alone that there was a massive demonstration taking place as well. We knew something was going on because the night before we witnessed lots of people running around with flags…and that just didn’t seem normal.
I’m not going to get into too much detail, but the demonstration was to protest the Spanish Constitutional Court’s ruling in March earlier this year which denies the Catalonian people the right to hold a self-determination referendum. The protestors formed a massive V, representing “vote”, in the Catalan colours.
Even though we were initially clueless to the cause, it was fascinating to witness all these people in red and yellow come together in such a peaceful, joyous and meaningful way. We asked our B&B owner if he expected any trouble for the day and he responded, “no, the Catalan people are not like that”. And from what we saw, it was peaceful and perfectly organised. There was a carnival feel in the atmosphere and the demonstrators ranged from babies to the elderly.
Being a self-absorbed tourist, I did worry that the demonstrations and noise would go well into the night (disrupting my beauty sleep), but just as our B&B owner predicted, the streets cleared in the late afternoon and life resumed as usual. I was amazed at how clean the streets were, mere hours after the crowds dispersed.
We watched a lot of the action from the balcony of our B&B. We felt very conspicuous walking the streets without a yellow or red t-shirt on.
I do hope that their efforts made a difference and I’m glad we were there to witness, first hand, a little piece of history.