Portuguese Flag

Flag of Portugal The Portuguese flag is one of the more easily recognizable world flags. It consists of a coat of arms on an unevenly-split field. The Portuguese flag colours are green (the majority color) on the fly and red (the minority color) on the hoist. On the junction between them lies a coat of arms, consisting of the Portuguese shield set on an armillary sphere.

A Small Overview

This flag has only been the official flag of Portugal since 1911, a year after the downfall of the monarchy. It was devised by a special commission which included Portuguese painters and politicians.

The Meaning of the Colours

Opinions concerning the symbolism of the colors on the flag vary considerably, from the official account of their meaning to less conformist interpretations. The official account of the green color, for instance, is that it represents the hope of the Portuguese people for the future, after their obtaining of the ability of self-rule. The account of the red is that it represents the Revolution that took place in 1910, in which the monarchy was abolished, and which caused the death of many Portuguese patriots. These sorts of meanings are not exclusive to the Portuguese flag, of course. The Portugal flag, for instance, carries symbolic representations of the blood shed in revolutions (red), and the gunpowder used in the revolution.

Some Dissent

There are alternate - if slightly less believable - interpretations of what the colors mean. Some people take the position that the design was simply chosen for other reasons, with the patriotic meaning emerging later as a propagandistic move by the republicans. These accounts, however, are slightly less-than-mainstream, and enjoy little popularity among the Portuguese, who accept the official Portuguese flag meaning.

Meaning of the Sphere

The coat of arms spanning the junction between the two colors also has several layers of meaning, which makes it easier to understand Portuguese flag history. It is composed of the union of an armillary sphere and the Portuguese shield. The Armillary sphere, also known as a spherical astrolabe, was a device used by ancient mariners to chart a course by means of aligning the rings of the sphere to match certain astronomical constants, such as the position of the rising sun. The meaning of the symbolism is relatively obvious: the Portuguese were among some of the best sailors in the pre-modern and early modern world, producing such famous navigators as Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan. The sphere therefore represents the maritime heritage of the Portuguese people.

Meaning of the Shield

The shield takes the form of a white inescutcheon with five blue bezants, surrounded by a red border inlaid with seven castles. The bezants represent the five Moorish kings defeated at the battle of Ourique by Alfonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal. The seven castles in the red border are commonly thought to represent the seven fortified cities that King Henrique won from the Moors. To try and find these fortresses on Maps of Portugal website, looking on Justmaps.org.



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