On 28 March 1809, a popular uprising allowed Vigo to overthrow the Napoleon occupation. Over 1,400 imperial soldiers were taken prisoner. From this olive-growing town, a Galicia-wide offensive was later organised that led to the definitive withdrawal of Napoleon's army.
This historical fact, that the people of Vigo commemorate as the “Reconquista” (“Reconquest”), was hugely significant and resulted in Vigo obtaining the title of "city", awarded by the Regency.
Vigo began to celebrate the Reconquista from the year following their victory over the Napoleonic invaders. The festival as it is celebrated today emerged from the initiative of the Neighbourhood Association of Casco Vello, which gave new impetus to the celebration with its idea to recreate the battle.
Casco Vello goes back in time each year to recreate the expulsion of the invaders, and both citizens and visitors come dressed in costume to soak up the historical spirit of the 19th century.
This celebration, which is a major date in the Galician calendar, includes a craft market, craft and handicraft workshops, food stalls, a French camp and also children's entertainment areas and live music by traditional music groups. There are also theatrical performances, ancient fencing, giants and cabezudos and other performances.
There is no doubt that the theatrical recreation of the Reconquest is the event’s focal point. Each year around 500 people participate, representing 50 French soldiers, between 60 and 70 popular militias and some 400 locals. After the confrontation, the Napoleonic troops flee the city by boat.
Notable: The French troops retreat by boat.