Melilla Day in Spain Date in the current year: September 17, 2024

Melilla Day in Spain In Spain, there are two autonomous cities located on the north coast of Africa, Ceuta and Melilla. In addition to public holidays celebrated throughout Spain, each of them has its own regional holidays. For example, the residents of Melilla annually celebrate Melilla Day on September 17.

Although Melilla Day is sometimes referred to as Melilla Foundation Day, it doesn’t commemorate the actual foundation of the city by Berbers. Instead, it marks the anniversary of the conquest of Melilla by the Spanish in 1497.

The conquest of Melilla took place in the aftermath of the Reconquista, the period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula when Christian kingdoms reconquered their lost territories from the Muslims. It began shortly after the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the early 8th century and concluded with the conquest of Granada in 1492 and the unification of most of Spain under Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Soon after the fall of Granada, the Spanish begin to plan the seizure of Muslim territories in North Africa. The city of Melilla was considered a prime candidate, but it was in the Portuguese zone of influence at the time according to the Treaty of Alcáçovas. In 1494, King John II of Portugal made an exception and agreed to permit the Spanish to conquer Melilla.

In September 1497, Pedro Estopiñán led the troops of Juan Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán, 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia, to take Melilla. The city surrendered virtually without a fight on September 17. The Muslims tried to recapture Melilla in 1694–1696 and 1774–1775, but failed. The current city limits were established by treaties with Morocco in the 19th century. On March 14, 1995, Melilla was granted autonomy.

The anniversary of the Spanish conquest is an official regional holiday, meaning that it is a public holiday and non-working day in Melilla but not in the rest of the country. It is marked with various festive events and activities. However, some residents don’t celebrate the holiday and instead hold protests to support Melilla leaving Spain and joining Morocco.

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