Austria Flag: Origins, Meaning, and Symbolism Explained

Austria, a picturesque country located in the heart of Europe, boasts a deep-rooted history and culture with its national symbol – the Austrian flag. The flag is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the 13th century. This iconic red and white striped banner holds a significant place in Austrian history and tradition, representing the spirit and identity of the nation.

Austria Flag Map
Austria Flag Map

The Austrian flag features three equal horizontal bands of red and white, with the red bands flanking the white one in the middle. The flag’s vibrant colors are rooted in Austrian folklore, and its design has undergone various changes throughout the country’s tumultuous history. The history and symbolism behind the Austrian flag not only offer insight into the nation’s past, but also provide an understanding of how the people of Austria have maintained their identity through various challenges and changes.

Delving into the origins of the Austrian flag reveals the emblem’s journey through time. From the battlefields of the Middle Ages to its modern-day incarnation, the flag has served as a constant reminder of the nation’s resilient spirit and rich history. As the story behind Austria’s cherished flag unfolds, one cannot help but appreciate the enduring symbolism it embodies.

Austrian Flag Colors and Their Meaning

The Austrian flag, among the oldest national banners globally, has a straightforward but historically rich design. It features three horizontal stripes in a sequence of red, white, and red, each embodying critical aspects of Austria’s identity and heritage.

The emblematic colors were adopted by Duke Frederick II in 1230, a decision with enduring significance. The deep red exemplifies strength, bravery, and resilience – qualities echoing Austria’s vibrant past. On the other hand, the stark white denotes purity, peace, and innocence, all of which symbolize the country’s tranquil demeanor and spirit.

A popular legend ties the origin of the flag’s colors to Duke Leopold V of Austria. Following a battle against the Ottomans, Duke Leopold V’s white tunic was stained with blood, but underneath his belt, the fabric remained white, thus creating the now-familiar red-white-red pattern.

This striking emblem of unity, national pride, and resilience has undergone several changes over the years, with the current design standardized in 1945.


The red in the Austrian flag carries an immense historical weight. It allegedly symbolizes the blood shed by Duke Leopold V during the Battle of Ptolemais in 1191. This red-white-red pattern, embedded in Austria’s national narrative, was officially chosen as the Republic of Austria’s flag in 1918, after World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The official flag regulations of Austria stipulate the red should be RAL 3000 Flame Red, although various shades are observed in different versions. It’s worth noting that the Austrian flag’s red is distinct from the darker “Latvian red” seen on Latvia’s similarly patterned flag.


The white in the Austrian flag symbolizes purity and innocence, resonating with the pristine snow of the Austrian Alps. Utilized extensively by the Habsburg Monarchy during the 18th and 19th centuries, the white stripe came to symbolize peace and order across their domains.

The neutral white stripe sets the Austrian flag apart from other European flags with similar designs, such as Germany and Belgium. According to the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (FIAV), the white-to-other colors ratio must be proportionate for visibility and recognition from a distance.

To sum up, the white and red colors in the Austrian flag embody a mix of historical symbolism, geographical significance, and international flag design principles, contributing to a unique and easily recognizable national emblem.

Austrian Flag Design and its Significance

The Austrian flag, also known as the flag of Austria, features a simple yet iconic design, comprising three equal horizontal stripes of red, white, and red. This easily recognizable pattern holds historical and symbolic significance for the nation and its citizens.

According to legend, the red-white-red pattern of the Austrian flag can be traced back to Duke Leopold V of Austria. During the Battle of Ptolemais in 1191, it is said that his white tunic was stained with blood, leaving only a white band in the middle where his belt had been. This combination of red, white, and red was then adopted as the emblem for the Duchy of Austria.

Vienna, Austria’s capital city, has played a crucial role in the flag’s history. The red-white-red design became a part of the city’s coat of arms during the 13th century and has been associated with Austria ever since. Throughout history, these colors have been used to represent various Austrian dynasties, rulers, and states.

Regarding its symbolic value, the Austrian flag is widely regarded as the oldest national flag still in use. The red-white-red color scheme combines simplicity with a vibrant and powerful sense of national pride. The horizontal stripes are designed to be equal in size, emphasizing the balance and unity of the Austrian people.

In summary, the flag of Austria, with its horizontal red-white-red stripes, is a vital symbol of national identity. Rooted in legend and history, it represents the nation’s rich heritage while also embodying the values of balance and unity shared by its citizens.

National Symbols of Austria

The national symbols of Austria have evolved over centuries, reflecting the country’s rich history and cultural influences. From the days of the Holy Roman Empire, through the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Austrian Empire, to the Republic of Austria, these symbols have always represented a strong national identity.

The flag of Austria is one of the oldest national flags in the world. Its origins date back to the late medieval period, when the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, the Duke of Austria, adopted red and white as his heraldic colors. The modern design, featuring three equal horizontal bands of red, white, and red, has been the official ensign since the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved in 1918, signifying the birth of the first Republic of Austria.

In addition to the flag, Austria’s coat of arms is an important national symbol. The coat of arms features a black, double-headed eagle on a gold shield, with golden feathers and a red and white escutcheon atop the eagle’s breast. This design can be traced back to the Habsburg Monarchy and signifies Austria’s centuries of imperial history.

The Austrian Armed Forces have their distinctive symbols as well. The war flag used from the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the first Republic of Austria was a combination of the red-white-red flag with a double-headed eagle. Nowadays, the Austrian Armed Forces use the same flag as the civil ensign, but with the coat of arms in the center.

Austria’s national currency is the Euro, which was introduced in 1999 and replaced the Austrian Schilling. The Euro is a symbol of Austria’s integration into the European Union and its international influence. It is a stable and secure currency used by millions of people across Europe.

The national anthem of Austria, “Land der Berge, Land am Strome” (Land of Mountains, Land on the River), was composed in 1946. Its lyrics focus on the natural beauty of Austria and emphasize the importance of the country’s landscape. It symbolizes the love and pride Austrians have for their land.

The various national symbols of Austria reflect the diverse influences of different historical periods, from the German-speaking heritage to the impacts of Austria-Hungary and the Holy Roman Empire. These symbols help forge a sense of unity and pride among Austrians, embodying the country’s past, present, and future.

The National Coat of Arms

Austria coat of arms mainWikipedia | Public Domain Mark 1.0
Austria coat of arms main

The National Coat of Arms of Austria represents the country’s historic roots and unity. It is an integral element of the Austrian flag. The coat of arms consists of a black, double-headed eagle on a golden shield, accompanied by smaller arms representing the nine provinces of Austria.

The double-headed eagle, derived from the German Empire, represents Austria’s central location in Europe and its rich history. The eagle holds a sword and a scepter in its talons, symbolizing the Austrian Empire’s military power and authority. The open chest of the eagle displays the smaller shields that represent the nine provinces: Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Burgenland, and Vienna.

Each of the nine provinces within Austria has its unique, regional coat of arms within the national emblem. To depict the regional differences, here’s a brief description of each provincial coat of arms:

  • Lower Austria: Blue and silver diagonal stripes represent the river Danube.
  • Upper Austria: A red and white striped shield with a central blue stripe is the emblem of this region.
  • Styria: This region’s coat of arms features a green panther with red flames emerging from its mouth and ears.
  • Carinthia: A red, six-pointed star sits atop three silver hills in this province’s emblem.
  • Salzburg: A red chevron on a golden shield represents the main motif for Salzburg’s coat of arms.
  • Tyrol: The emblem for Tyrol is the red Tyrolean eagle on a white shield.
  • Vorarlberg: A red crowned deer on a white shield is the symbol for Vorarlberg.
  • Burgenland: This region’s coat of arms depicts a red ascending bridge on a silver shield.
  • Vienna: A red cross on a white shield represents Austria’s capital, Vienna.
Coat of arms of austria© Shutterstock/KhaNPhoto
Coat of Arms of Austria

The National Coat of Arms is an essential symbol of Austrian identity, representing the nation’s history and unity. The double-headed eagle demonstrates the pride Austrians take in their rich, storied past, while the regional shields illustrate the diversity and individuality of the provinces.