If you’re new in Barcelona, you might be wondering why all the shops are closed today. The 11th of September is La Diada, a date celebrated across Catalunya. It commemorates a battle at the end of the Spanish War of Succession, which was fought between Archduke Charles of of Austria (backed by Britain and the Netherlands) against Philip V of Spain (backed by France) and lasted from 1702 until 1714. The Catalan army who fought in support of Archduke Charles were finally defeated on September the 11th, when after a protracted siege the city fell to the forces supporting Philip. This defeat signalled the end of the Catalunya as an independent political entity with its own institutions and legislations.

La Diada was first celebrated in 1886, and was suppressed during Franco’s era. In 1980 the newly formed Generalitat de Catalunya reinstated the holiday. Flowers are traditionally laid at the monuments to the 1714 defenders of the city, and towns and villages throughout Catalunya hold cultural events and demonstrations, with many people waving Catalan flags. In recent years, the growing demand for a referendum on independence has seen huge demonstrations on La Diada. In 2016 local police estimated crowds of 800,000 turned out across the region to attend marches in favour of a referendum.

So what’s happening today? Well, there’s a big demonstration at 4pm at the intersection of Passeig de Gràcia with Carrer d’Aragò in favour of the referendum on October the 1st, so if you want to see politics in action head along there!