What Do The Colors And Symbols Of The Flag Of Austria Mean?

By Joseph Kiprop on April 20 2018 in World Facts

The Austrian flag is the second-oldest national flag in the world.

The Republic of Austria uses its national flag as a civil flag, civil and naval ensign. In the 18th century, Austria adopted the flag as its naval ensign, and it became the country’s national flag in 1918. This flag comes in second after Denmark’s as the oldest national flag around the world. 

Description and Symbolism

The Austrian flag is a rectangular triband flag with colors red and white. The equal horizontal bands are arranged with red at the top and bottom with a white band in the middle. A variant of the flag used as the state flag, ensign and war flag has the Coat of Arms of Austria charged at the center. Both flags have a proportion of 2:3. The red color is associated with love, open-mindedness, war, and supremacy. Austria used red to signify strength and bravery, while white symbolizes truth and honesty. The coat of arms shows a black eagle with a beak, crown, and yellow claws. The eagle holds a sickle and a hammer in its talons with torn handcuffs. The eagle’s chest has a red-white-red shield. The sickle and hammer symbolize the hard working citizens of Austria, while the crown stands for the country’s historical legacy. The torn cuffs signify the monarchy’s end.

The Flag’s Origins and Legend

The Austrian flag has its origins from the coat of arms of Babenberg Dynasty, which had a silver fess on a red field. The first documentation of the triband came in a seal on November 30, 1230. The historian Chrysostomus Hanthaler claimed that Duke Frederick II of Austria established a new coat of arms bearing the red-white-red color combination after he came to power in 1230. The red and white were the family colors of Babenberg. Legend has it that Duke Leopold V of Austria invented the flag after his participation in the Siege of Acre. After the battle, the duke removed his belt and saw that the cloth beneath the belt remained stainless, although the rest of the white surcoat was full of blood and red. The red-white-red combination amazed him, and he used the colors on his banner.

Flag of The Austrian Empire

In the 18th century up to 1918, the civil flag and ensign used in the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and later on in the Austrian Empire had two colors, black and yellow. The flag’s design had two horizontal bands with black on top of yellow, with a proportion of 2:3. The Imperial House of Habsburg’s family colors were black and yellow, from the Holy Roman Empire’s banner. This flag resembles the current flags of Namur in Belgium and Munich in Germany.

Similar Designs to the Austrian Flag

Several countries use as their national colors, the combination of red-white-red. Some of the nations with flags resembling the national flag of the Republic of Austria include Lebanon and Latvia. The Austrian flag inspired the Stars and Bars, which was the official national flag of the Confederate States of America. European inland waterways use a “No entry” sign that takes the same design as the flag of Austria.

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