So, finally, what happened on the 11th September?
Well, firstly, why is Catalonia's "National Day" on the 11th ? A long story, better explained by Wikipedia or some of my previous posts but in a nutshell; in the War of The Spanish Succession, Catalonia backed the wrong guy, the guy from Austria - with the support of a variety of other European countries such as England and Holland. They lost. England do not come out of this very well, as seeing they were losing, they cashed in their chips with the Treaty of Utrecht, got some gains such as Gibraltar, and left the Catalans in the lurch. They held out alone before Barcelona finally fell, after an epic year-long siege, on 11th September 1714. This was effectively the end of the war and any kind of independence Catalonia had enjoyed within the confederation of the Spanish kingdoms. This day is now commemorated as Catalan National Day with a series of emotive acts during the day, and some kind of independence reivindication act in Barcelona. These events have got bigger and bigger over recent years, with over a million people in 2012, perhaps 1.5 million in 2013 (when they/we formed a 400km human chain), and this year....
.... police estimates say there were 1.8 million people there this year! That is one hell of a load of people (out of a population of 7 million) but who am I to argue with the police! Just looking at the pictures and maps it is clear that there were at least a million, probably a lot more.
To spice things up this year, the idea was to occupy the two main avenues/boulevards/streets which go through the centre of Barcelona diagonally before intersecting. These roads are about 30 metres wide and we did 12km of them, thus occupying a minimum of 360,000 m2 - plus huge pavements and the many people spilling into side streets away from the crowd, and intense sun. As experts seem to think you get between 2 and 4 people in a square metre on a typical demo, then do the numbers. Anyway, perhaps between 10 and 20% of the population of Catalonia were there. Can you imagine something similar in another country? And the organization? 7000 volunteers got this organized, registering people, selling t-shirts, publicizing it, finding parking spots for 1000 coaches, ensuring the red/yellow effect came off, organizing concerts, stages, speeches, covering press needs etc... This was not a government or political party organized event, just one more example of how the independence movement here is the best example in 21st century Europe of a bottom-up movement pushing its "leaders" onward!
We each had to wear either a red or yellow t-shirt and find our allocated strips in the street so as to form a huge V shape in the colours of the Catalan flag.
Here are some news articles and videos on these links. What you will notice is that, much more important than the numbers are the smiles. A beautiful, emotional, peaceful time was had by all.
More cool photos.
Videos and photos - aerial shots.
La diada de Catalunya from Alexandru Costin on Vimeo.