Flag of Austria

Flag of Austria
Country Austria
Population 8,958,960 (2023)
Area (Km²) 82,409 (2023)
Сontinent Europe
Emoji 🇦🇹
  hex rgb
#EF3340 239, 51, 64
#FFFFFF 255, 255, 255

The national flag consists of three horizontal stripes of equal size - red at the top and bottom with a white stripe in the center. The national and military versions of the flag additionally have the coat of arms of Austria on a white stripe. The coat of arms depicts a black eagle with a crown and yellow talons. In its talons, the eagle holds a hammer and sickle with broken chains. On the eagle's chest is a red, white, and red national shield. Both flags have a ratio of 2:3.

What is the meaning of the Austrian flag?

  • Red is associated with love, openness and symbolizes strength, valor and courage;
  • white symbolizes truth and honesty;
  • the hammer and sickle on the coat of arms symbolize hardworking Austrian citizens;
  • the crown symbolizes the historical heritage of the country;
  • the broken shackles symbolize the end of the monarchy.

The national flag and the military flag, with the coat of arms, of Austria

The legend of the Austrian flag

Leopold V, Duke of Austria, participated in the Crusades in 1191. According to legend, he invented the flag after participating in the siege of Acre. After the battle, the duke took off his belt and saw that the fabric under the belt remained white, although the rest of the white cloak was covered with red blood. The red-white-red combination surprised him, and he used these colors on his flag. After the real banner of the Austrian duke was lost during a battle or stolen by King Richard the Lionheart of England, Emperor Henry VI allowed the Babenbergs to fly the red, white, and red banner as their new flag.

However, this legend cannot be substantiated historically. It is also difficult to establish how the Babenbergs got the so-called "Bindenschild" (red, white, and red coat of arms). There is speculation that the coat of arms came from the possessions of Count Waldwertel; other historians suggest that the shield and double-headed eagle came to the Babenbergs from the German Duchy of Swabia via Carinthia, Friuli, and Styria.

However, regardless of where the coat of arms actually originated and how it came to the Austrian dukes, historians know that the shield was used by the Austrian dukes from the mid-13th century at the latest. The earliest black-and-white image of the shield was made by Frederick II and is found on a document from the Lilienfeld Abbey in Lower Austria, dated 1230. The red, white, and scarlet colors were also first documented in writing two years later in Jan von Enickel's Fürstenburg. In it, the poet describes the solemn declaration of a young nobleman mature and capable of bearing arms in the knighthood of Duke Friedrich by Bishop Gebhard of Passau. On this occasion, 200 young nobles were dressed in red, white, and scarlet robes.

What flags does the Austrian flag look like?

Several countries use the red, white, and red color combination in their flags. These are countries like Lebanon and Latvia. Lebanon's flag has a double white line with a cedar tree in the middle, the traditional symbol of Lebanon. Latvia, on the other hand, has red double stripes and a narrow, half-sized white stripe in the middle. The Austrian flag inspired the Stars and Stripes, the official national flag of the Confederate States of America. European inland waterways use a "no trespassing" sign that has the same design as the Austrian flag.

Flags of countries with designs similar to the Austrian flag

A brief history of the Austrian flag

The Austrian flag with red, white, and red stripes was created by Frederick II the Warrior in the 13th century as a symbol of the independence of the Duchy of Austria. The first images of the flag date back to 1254, where it depicts Count Otto von Plain und Gardek calling himself "Signifer Austriae". This flag had red, white and scarlet stripes and was used for many centuries.

In 1786, Emperor Joseph II introduced a new naval flag with a crowned shield that had red, white, and red stripes in the Babenberg colors. During the military monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the flags bore the image of a double-headed eagle. Modern military flags are used to convey the morale of previous military branches and to maintain a connection with the ruling house and the nation.

After the proclamation of the Austrian Republic in 1918, there was an incident when red flags were raised instead of the red, white, and red flags. This caused a crisis of national symbolism, as the image of the white stripe was demolished. For the first time since World War II, the red, white, and red colors were restored as a symbol of Austrian national independence in 1945, which made the nation feel strong and confident. This was confirmed by the State Treaty of 1955, which enshrined the country's full independence.