Día de las Glorias Navales

The Día de las Glorias Navales is a public holiday in Chile on May 21. It commemorates the Battle of Iquique. The Battle of Iquique was a confrontation that occurred on May 21, 1879, during the naval stage of the War of the Pacific, a conflict between Chile and Peru and Bolivia. The battle took place off the, by then, Peruvian (currently Chilean) port of Iquique. The Peruvian ironclad Huáscar, commanded by Miguel Grau Seminario, sank the Esmeralda, a Chilean wooden corvette captained by Arturo Prat Chacón, after four hours of combat.

The Naval Battle of Iquique was a Peruvian victory; the blockade on Iquique was lifted and Chile temporarily left the area. However, Peru’s loss of the Independencia, one of its most powerful warships, in the following battle of Punta Gruesa was strategically costly, while Chile only lost one of its oldest wooden warships. Also, Cpt. Prat’s sudden death while on duty inspired thousands of Chilean youth to join the army and the navy. This is considered by Chilean historians to be one of the most important factors leading to victory in the war. Years later the figure of Prat became so popular that newspapers started to talk about “Pratiotism” and “Patriotism”

The date also marks the opening of ordinary Parliamentary season (through September 18, Independence Day) and is the traditional day for the President’s State of the Nation address.

Principal civic acts are performed in Santiago de Chile, Iquique and Valparaíso, where the Chilean Navy Headquarters are located.