September 11th, 2014 is a big date in the Catalan diary. This will be 300 years to the day when a besieged Barcelona (and with it an independent Catalunya) fell to the Spanish.
The leading powers in Europe at the time had divided into two groups. The French and Castilians supported the Spanish Bourbon king, Felipe V, while Austria and its allies wanted to avoid the Spanish empire falling into the hands of the despotic king. This led to the War of the Spanish Succession in which the Catalans allied with the Austrians against Spain, a decision that was to cost them dearly. By the end of the war, all Catalunya’s allies had either switched sides or negotiated with the French and Castilians, withdrawing their troops from Catalunya and effectively leaving Catalunya alone to fight its enemy. For 413 days the 5,000 residents of Barcelona were trapped within the city’s walls, refusing to surrender. On September 11th, 1714, the city fell to the French-Castilian troops in a bloody battle.
Following his victory, Felipe V outlawed the Catalan language and got rid of existing institutions. Catalunya lost its governing bodies—the Generalitat and the Corts—and Barcelona lost its long-standing system of government, the Consell de Cent. Power was now centralised in the hands of the monarchy.
Known as La Diada, September 11th has become, for many, a symbol of Catalan independence. During the last year the city has been commemorating the approach of the tricentennial with Tricentenari BCN, a programme of debates, exhibitions and performances that have invited reflection on the events of the past and their influence on present-day Barcelona. As Catalans ask for the right to hold a referendum on their region’s future in November, September 11th, 2014 will certainly be a historic day.
ON THE DAY
8am: 300 violinists (professionals and music school students) will come together in the Pg. del Born to mark the moment that Barcelona fell into enemy hands. They will play a piece composed by local pianist and composer Albert Guinovart.
12 noon: Demonstrations will be held in front of town and city halls throughout Catalunya in favour of the proposed referendum on Catalunya’s future.
5.14pm (17.14): Following the success of last year’s ‘Via Catalana’—a 480km human chain that stretched up through Catalunya and into France—this year’s Diada will see the human ‘V’. The V, which stands for voluntat, votar and victòria will be formed by thousands of people who will congregate along approximately six kilometres of the Diagonal and Gran Via, converging at Pl. de les Glòries.
7pm: Concerts at open-air stages around the city.
300 Onzes de Setembre
Museu d’Història de Catalunya. Until September 28th. www.en.mhcat.cat
This exhibition examines the historical process that led to the consolidation of September 11th as the National Day of Catalunya, from the day after the defeat until today.
The Born Centre Cultural invites you to take a self-guided tour around places in Barcelona that were important during the War of Spanish Succession. Pick up the leaflet with a map of the 40 locations from the Born Centre Cultural or museums around the city or download the leaflet from www.ruta1714.cat.