The origins of “La Mercè” date back from the year of 1218. The legend says that the Virgin appeared to King Jaume I on September 24th, asking him to help save the christians who were imprisoned by the saracens.
Since then, people in Barcelona would pray for “La Virgen de la Mercè” whenever they need to overcome any difficult situation, but it was only in 1868 that the Pope Piu IX declared the Virgin of La Mercè the patron saint of the city.
The party has been celebrated since 1871 as a civic event, gathering many expressions of Catalan Culture, such as street parades, the ball of Sardanas, the human castles “Castellers”, and the Devils known as “Correfocs”. This festival became a model for all of the popular festivities that are held today all over Catalunya.
Nowadays, La Mercè is the biggest celebration in Barcelona, with a whole week of cultural events, all organized by local associations, taking place in public spaces and accessible to everybody.
Since 2007, the city hall of Barcelona started a tradition to include an “invited city” to the festivities theme, honoring different cultures. The first one was Medellín, then Quito(2008), Istambul (2009), Dakar (2010), Saint Petersburg (2011), Montreal(2012), Vienna (2013), Stockholm (2014), Buenos Aires (2015), Paris (2016), Reykjavik (2017), Lisboa (2018), Beiruth (2019), Barcelona (2020) La Habana (2021) and Rome (2022).
Many museums open their doors for free and some of the most famous monuments in Barcelona offer special discounts.There are concerts, theatrical performances, activities for children, dance, music and food.
For the closing of the party there’s a Firework show along with music and the lights of the Magic Fountain in Montjuic. Thousands of people gather around Plaça Espanya to watch this spectacle.
If you ever visit Barcelona around the end of September, you cannot miss the festivities, they are all over town. Our team will be pleased to help you find the best events and enjoy the most of La Mercè. Barcelona awaits!