Spanish National Anthem

Spain’s National Anthem

The Spanish national anthem is called "La Marcha Real" (The Royal March). Unlike many national anthems, it is one of only a few in the world that have no official lyrics. Although one of the oldest in the world, the origins of the Spanish national anthem are unknown: i.e. nobody is certain when and by whom it was written.

The earliest documented reference to the Marcha Real is the Spanish Infantry’s Book of Regulation Bugle Calls by Manuel de Espinosa of 1761. In this book, la Marcha Real was actually titled la Marcha Granadera (the Grenadier’s March) but no author for the piece was credited.

Spain National Anthem Marcha Real

La Marcha Real (Marcha Grenadera) has become the national anthem of Spain more or less by default. In 1770, Carlos III declared la Marcha Grenadera as the official “Marcha del Honor” (Honour March), thus granting it importance at public and ceremonial proceedings and in the presence of the Spanish royal family. Consequently, over time the people of Spain began to think of the Marcha Grenadera as the national anthem Spain did not officially have, and dubbed it la Marcha Real.

During the Second Spanish Republic between 1931-1939, the Republican government replaced la Marcha Real making Himno de Riego (Riego’s Hymn*) the Spanish national anthem.

After the nationalist troops defeated the republic in 1939 (see Spanish Civil War), General Francisco Franco restored la Marcha Real as the national anthem of Spain but kept its original title, la Marcha Grenadera.

It wasn’t until October 1997 that la Marcha Real became officially recognised as the Spanish national anthem by Royal Decree.

* Himno de Riego – named in honour of General Rafael del Riego, liberal politician and hero of the Spanish Civil War of 1820-1823.