The flag of Austria consists of three equal horizontal stripes of red at the top, white at the center and red at the bottom. The current flag was used as a naval ensign in the 18th century before being adopted as the national flag in 1918. During the World Wars, Austria was occupied by Germany and lost sovereignty. It was not until 1945 that Austria regained sovereignty and readopted the flag as its national flag.

What Do the Flag's Colors and Symbols Mean?

According to an Austrian legend, the red and white colors on the flag can be traced to the 12th century when King Henry VI granted Duke Leopold V a shield because his tunic was covered by blood except for a white patch beneath his belt during the Battle of Ptolemais. Other variants of the flag incorporate the Austrian Coat of Arms at the center of the flag. The Austrian coat of arms includes a black eagle with a mural crown on its head, a sickle on its left talon and a hummer on its right talon. The ends of a broken chain are tied to both talons representing the freedom of its people. At the center of the eagle is a triband shield with the colors of the Austrian flag.

Who Designed the Flag?

The Austrian flag can be traced back to the 12th century during the medieval Babenberg dynasty. By 1105, Leopold III of Austria carried a triband shield with the red and white colors. When Frederick II of Austria took over as the last of the Babenberg dynasty, he designed a coat of arms with red-white-red stripes. From then onwards, the colors were passed from one generation to the next until the 18th century when a naval ensign was developed. The ensign was later adopted as the national flag.


What Have Historical Versions of the Flag Looked Like?

Several variants of the flag were developed between the 17th century to date. One of the most popular includes the national flag with the national coat of arms at the center. Between 1700-1867 the flag consisted of two horizontal stripes: a black on the top and yellow on the bottom. The flag of Austria is sometimes confused with that of Latvia, but unlike the Austrian flag, the Latvian flag is a carmine, "Latvian red” with a white horizontal strip at the center. The white strip is narrower than the red stripes.

This page was last modified on February 7th, 2018