Flags in Barcelona

Did you notice the number of different flags on the streets of Barcelona? During my tours, tourists often ask me about flags and symbols on public buildings and private homes. I decided today to write a post about it in order to dispel any doubts.

Spanish flag

This year the Spanish flag celebrated its 175th birthday. In 1843 Queen Isabella signed a royal decree that converted the flag into a national symbol. However, history began much earlier in the 18th century with King Charles III. At that time, the Spanish flag was white with the royal coat of arms of the Bourbon family. This caused many misunderstandings during sea battles. Why? Many European kingdoms, such as England, France, Toscani, Sicily, Palermo, also used a white background on their flag. The Spanish Navy couldn’t recognize the enemy from afar and it happened that it attacked its own ships. King Carlos III ordered a new flag to be designed. From 12 examples he chose one that had two red stripes and one yellow. These colours were very easy to distinguish from the water and flags of other countries.

The Catalan flag “SeƱera”

The Catalan flag is a symbol of the heraldic line of the Counts of Barcelona and has been in use since 1150. It is the oldest flag in Europe that is in use. A medieval legend explains how this symbol was created.
In the 9th century, when the region of March Hispanic (future Catalanne) was a vassal of France. The region was ruled by many counts, but the most important was the Count of Barcelona, Wilfred.
According to legend, the King of France asked Wilfred to help in the fight against the Normans, a tribe occupying French territory. Count Barcelona came with his army and helped liberate France, but was seriously injured during the battle. When Wilfredo was recovering from the wounds in his tent, the French king went to visit him and offered him everything he wanted, as a reward for the courage shown on the battlefield. Wilfredo pointed to his shield, which was all gold, and asked him to give him a coat of arms. The King of Franks put four fingers in Wilfredo’s bleeding wound and drew four vertical lines with Wilfredo’s blood on a golden shield.


Etelada (star) is an unofficial flag of supporters of the independent region of Catalonia. The flag was designed in 1918 by the famous Catalan activist Vicenza Albert Ballester & Camps. He was inspired by the Cuban flag. The Ballester & Camps add a blue triangle with a white star to the Catalan flag, as a symbol of Catalan independence .

Yellow ribbon

Yellow ribbon, which can be seen on the clothes of residents, windows and balconies of their homes. This symbol has been used since 2017, when the leaders of the two main pro-Catalan parties were arrested by the Spanish judiciary for organising a referendum on the independence of Catalonia. The symbol expresses the solidarity and support of former pro-Cathalonian leaders.