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National Symbols: National Anthem

"La Marcha Real" ("The Royal March")

Date of Adoption: 1874, but in use since 1770, replaced in 1931, reinstated in 1939

Music by: Unknown

Lyrics by: None

Spain's national anthem is one of the oldest in the world and one of just a few that does not contain lyrics. The musical score was first used as a military bugle call in 1761, when it was known as the "Marcha Granadera." In 1770 King Carlos III declared "La Marcha Real," as it was commonly called, the official "honor march" to be played at royal events. In 1870 a competition was held for a new official song, however none were deemed suitable, and "La Marcha Real" retained its status as the representative song of Spain.

In 1931 with the victory of the democratic Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War, the song "Himno Riego" was used as the anthem. It was, however, reverted to the "Marcha Real" in 1939, when Franco's forces defeated the Republicans. Three years later Franco modified the text to suit his regime. In 1975, three years after Franco's death, the lyrics were dropped, and the anthem has been without them ever since. In 1997 the royal family issued a decree regulating the official use of "La Marcha Real." While it is the anthem of the majority of Spain, the country's semiautonomous regions of Catalonia, Basque Country, and Galicia all have their own anthems.