Melilla Day is celebrated today in the autonomous city of Melilla, but why is it celebrated on September 17 of each year? Let’s learn more about the origin and history of this day.
Melilla Day 2021: Why is it celebrated on September 17?
Melilla Day is a day on which the founding of the city of Melilla as a Spanish city is commemorated on September 17, 1497 , when the city was taken by the Duke of Medina Sidonia so that it was incorporated to the Crown of Castile .
History of Melilla Day
Melilla is located on the north coast of Africa and shares a border with Morocco . In the same way as Ceuta, the other of the autonomous cities, this enclave has had a very colorful past as corresponds to its historical importance in the trade routes of North Africa.
For many centuries, the ancient port of Melilla had passed through the hands of various cultures that marked the city in history books, starting with the Phoenicians to the Romans through the Byzantine Empire and even the Vandals and Visigoths. But it was at the end of the 15th century, while Melilla was part of the Kingdom of Fez, that Queen Isabel I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon decided that it was probably better for all concerned if it was part of their empire.
The kings thus asked Juan Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán, third Duke of Medina-Sidonia, to take the city in their name . The duke sent Pedro Estopiñán and some troops, who conquered the city, meeting minimal resistance, on September 17, 1497.
Melilla was then taken over and became part of Spain and to this day, the city’s official Coat of Arms is that of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia. The guy at the top of the flag with the dagger is Guzmán El Bueno, who founded the Medina-Sidonia dynasty in the late 13th century.
The date of the Melilla Day celebration
The conquest of Melilla took place on September 17, so this is the day set to commemorate the “founding” of the city as Spanish. However, the year in which these events occurred is not entirely clear since there is no document that certifies it.
There are even those who believe that the arrival of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia occurred a year earlier. On the other hand, the celebration of September 17 is also questioned by those who consider that it would be better for Melilla Day to be celebrated on March 13, which is when Melilla became an autonomous city when its statute of autonomy was established. in 1995.
The celebration of Melilla Day 2021
Despite the beliefs that Melilla Day should be celebrated on March 13, the date of September 17 remains the commemoration of this city, so we congratulate all Melilla residents on their day. As every year, the celebration will be marked in 2021 by an offering to the statue of the conqueror Pedro de Estopiñán . Then the victims of the covid will be honored and the delivery of the Gold Medals of the City will also be celebrated, although without the traditional military parade in Melilla La Vieja , where hundreds of people used to go to celebrate their Spanishness.