King Felipe VI of Spain has condemned the independence referendum in Catalonia on Sunday, saying the organisers acted “outside the law”.
During a televised address to the country on Tuesday, the king said that Catalan society was now “fractured and in conflict” after the banned vote took place.
Almost 900 people were injured after security forces closed polling stations and dispersed crowds of peaceful supporters of independence for the region with baton charges and rubber bullets.
The Spanish monarch urged “unity” while accusing Catalan leaders of putting national stability at risk by holding the vote.
"With their decisions, they have systematically undermined the rules approved legally and legitimately, showing an unacceptable disloyalty towards the powers of the state -- a state that represents Catalan interests," he said.
Spain’s government in Madrid said the referendum was illegal, however, 90 per cent of those who turned out to vote supported independence for the region.
A huge protest took place in Barcelona on Tuesday as tens of thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against police brutality.
Shops and universities were shut while transport links were affected by workers who walked out, after pro-independence union leaders called for a general strike.
FC Barcelona took part in the strike and firefighters joined the marches in the city, which were maily peaceful.
The European Union has refused to involve itself in the enfolding crisis, describing the situation as an "internal matter".
The European Commission insisted on an end to the violence and for both sides to engage in talks to diffuse the situation.
“We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics,” the EU executive's chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a press briefing on Monday.