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Catalan folklore

La Senyera: History of the Catalan Flag

Written by Rachel G

If you visit Barcelona, you might be wondering what all the different flags you’ll see hanging from balconies around the city symbolize. The most common flag of them all is the Senyera, the flag of the autonomous region of Catalonia, with alternating red and yellow stripes. Not to be confused with the Estelada, the Catalan independence flag which looks similar but has a blue triangle and white star on the left side, La Senyera is one of the oldest flags in Europe that continues to be used today.

Related article: Interesting Catalan Traditions

Origins of La Senyera

Photo by Alessandro Grussu via Visualhunt

There are several different theories of where the Catalan flag originally came from. The first appearance of the flag is said to have been on the tomb of Ramon Berenguer II, the Count of Barcelona who died in 1082. One legend has it that the Count had fallen injured in battle and created the Senyera while on his deathbed. According to the story, he stuck his fingers into his wound and drew them down his yellow shield, creating Els Quatre Dits de Sang, or “The Four Fingers of Blood,” that appear as four red stripes on the flag.

Related article: What is the difference between Spanish and Catalan?

History of the Catalan Flag

According to the Gran Enciclopedia Aragonesa the first undisputed evidence of the flag goes back to Alfonso II of Aragón in 1159 as it appeared on his royal seal. It also appared on the coat of arms of the Crown of Aragón, the kingdom that once held the territory of eastern Spain where Catalonia exists today. While the exact origins cannot be historically determined, it’s agreed upon that the flag comes from 11th or 12th century symbols.

Modern Usage

Photo by vkurland via Visualhunt

Today, La Senyera is the official flag of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia and also appears on the official flags of Aragón, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. You’ll see the flag hanging on balconies all over the city, proudly displaying Catalan pride. You’ll also see the flag flown outside official government buildings in Barcelona and throughout the rest of Catalonia. It also appears on the coat of arms of both the city of Barcelona and of the Barcelona Football Club. It’s a very important symbol of pride for the Catalan people, and many enjoy displaying it outside their homes, on important holidays, and during traditional Catalan festivals throughout the year.


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*Main photo b: -Dreamflow- via Visuahunt

About the author

Rachel G

Originally from the United States, Rachel has been living in Spain since 2014. After two years in Madrid, she moved to Barcelona in 2016 to pursue her passions in writing and photography. She spends her free time enjoying life in beautiful Barcelona and traveling around Europe as much as possible.

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