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Galicia (Spain)

Autonomous Community of Galicia, Comunidad(e) Autónoma de Galicia

Last modified: 2018-09-02 by ivan sache
Keywords: galicia |
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Flag of Galicia - Image by Antonio Gutiérrez, 18 June 1997

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The blue and white colour scheme is certainly the same as early Portuguese flags and coats-of arms, but judging from their respective origins – Portugal and Corunna – that is not more than a fortunate coincidence.

António Martins, 18 Jun 1997

The historical flag of Galicia was white with the chalice and red crosses. In the 19th century a distinctive flag was asigned to the maritime province of A Coruña (English Corunna) that was a blue saltire on a white field. This flag is very similar to the Russian naval ensign and later [1891] it was changed to only a blue band. When the Galicians went to America and settled Argentina (together with Italians and others) at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, their boats used the maritime flags of A Coruña. The emigrant people believed that this was the flag of Galicia so it was used during the emigration and adopted later for the people. It was forbidden 1936-1977.

Jaume Ollé, 19 Jun 1997

In the website of the Xunta de Galicia (autonomous government), there is some interesting information. I'm translating it from the original in Galician:

During the Middle Ages, the Galician soldiers where grouped under "signals," "standards" or "pennons" that did not symbolize the Galician kingdom. Even their colours could vary from leader to leader, though a certain persistance of white can be observed.

From the 17th century, the Galician flag begins to appear in the publications, mirroring the arms: white, with a yellow cup at center surrounded by six crosses couped. There is no evidence to support the existence of the current flag before our century. The current white flag with blue stripe descends from the old flag of the Corunna Navy Commandancy. It was first adopted by the emmigrants and later by peninsular Galicia.

The Galician flag is usually 3 modules long and 2 wide. The shade of blue of the stripe is usually an intense sky blue or light cobalt. This would be the national civil flag. The so-called state flag, the one that must be used in official ceremonies, would contain also the coat-of-arms in the centre.

Jorge Candeias, 25 Sep 1998


These are the exact proportions of the Galician flag, according to Law. Be "a" the width of the flag, "b" the length, "c" the width of the blue stripe, then a=2; b=3, c=b/6 or 0,5. The width [left border of the strip-diagonal line] or [diagonal line-right border of the stripe] is c/2 or 0,25. The shield of the coat of arms is inscribed in an imaginary rectangle, of width (horizontal) "d" and height (vertical) "e": d=b/5 and e=6*d/5. On the shield is the crown (the proportion of the crown / shield is not given but the height of the crown is ca. 10/17 of the height of the shield).

Sources: Ley 29 mayo 1984 (Xunta de Galicia). Galicia. Símbolos.; and Gran Enciclopedia Gallega (Símbolos de Galicia. Origen y evolución de las armas de Galicia), pp.63-65.

Pascal Vagnat, 25 Sep 1998

Official Flag

[Galicia, official flag (Spain)] 2:3
image by Antonio Gutiérrez, taken with permission from the S.E.V. website

This is the "state" flag of Galicia, consisting of the "civil" flag (argent, a bend azure) charged with the regional coat of arms.

António Martins, 26 May 1998

The arms on the animated flag at the top of the Xunta de Galicia website is too large. In that same page, however, there is a photograph of an actual flag where you can see the correct proportions.

Santiago Dotor, 24 Sep 1998


[Coat-of-Arms (Galicia, Spain)]
image by Antonio Gutiérrez, taken with permission from the S.E.V. website

Azure, a chalix bearing the eucharistic bread, between two pales of three crosslets argent each, itself under another crosslet; royal crown, closed with five half-arches and padded red.

António Martins, 26 May 1998

From the Xunta de Galicia Website:

When Heraldry became widespread through Western Europe, the ancient kingdom of Galicia was then already part of the Leonese monarchy, and its kings used to use quite simply the talking lion. That dependence was the reason why Galicia lacked an heraldic symbol from the 12th to the 14th Century the need to use a figure that represented Galicia provoked the use of a eucharistic symbol in the coat of arms by way of a covered goblet during the 15th Century, or a chalice with a host on top in the 16th Century, and by the monstrance starting from the 17th Century. This figure appeared due to an ancient privilege existent in the Cathedral of Lugo be the constant exhibition of the Holy Sacrament to the faithful.

In the Renaissance the goblet lost its expressive character and in order to insist on the message, the eucharistic bread became patented and the chalice replaced the goblet.

The appearance of the crosses in the Galician coat of arms came from years back coming out of the need to fill the empty space. The crosses were chosen fundamentally for religious reasons, the first ones being made up by several smaller crosses. There were six of them throughout the whole of the 17th century but the one which finished off the monstrance ended up becoming independent and the resulting seven crosses were identified by the heads of the old Kingdom of Galicia. Nowadays it is characterised by its simplicity. The background colour of the coat of arms has been blue since the 15th Century and today the crosses are preferably silver. The chalice appears in gold joined to the silver host. Amongst the exterior ornaments, special attention needs to be paid to the crown and to the cross of Santiago. They did not appear until the 17th Century as their use was reserved solely for Knights of the order. Nowadays only the crown remains.

It was in 1972 when the Royal Academy of Galicia in a plenary session adopted the definitive model of this symbol which today is considered official.

Santiago Dotor, 27 Nov 2002

"Galician Ensign," c. 1700, as Shown In 18th-Century "Encyclopédie de Diderot"

[Dubious 'Galician Ensign' c. 1700 (Galicia, Spain)]

image by Aitor Yuste, 29 Sep 2003

Aitor Yuste sent me two flags based on the "Encyclopédie de Diderot et D'Alembert" (1751-1772), allegedly Galician and Portuguese ensigns of the 18th century. The "Galician ensign" appeared in many flag charts up to 1842, but is most probably mistaken and, if it was ever used as an ensign, it was abandoned long before the adoption of the red-yellow-red ensign in 1785.

Santiago Dotor, 29 Sep 2003

This is the flag of the old Kingdom of Galicia during the XVI, XVII, XVIII and XIX centuries, shown in Diderot & D´Alembert´s Encyclopedia. The flag is white with six red crosses and a "cáliz" in the center. This flag stopped being used at the beginning of the 20th century.

Aitor Yuste, 29 Sep 2003

Excuse my ignorance, but was there a Kingdom of Galicia in the 16th to 19th centuries? I thought that Galicia was definitively incorporated into Castille in 1157 and has not been independent since, although I know the title "King of Galicia" was used long afterwards as one of the attributes of the Kings of Spain. Anyway, during the period in question, Spain was ruled by Habsburgs and then Bourbons, both known for their strong centralizing policies, as I understand it – known, in fact, for disregarding guarantees of communal rights granted by their predecessors in many cases. Did Galicia really have a flag of its own that flew during this period, or is this an 18th century reconstruction of a flag that could have been used in the early Middle Ages?

Also, what happened ca. 1900 to cause such a change in 500 years of practice?

Joseph McMillan, 29 Sep 2003

Diderot's Encylopaedia (Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers) was published between 1751 and 1772. Its aim was as broad as possible but most attention was paid to economy and industry. It would be interesting to know who was in charge of the Flag section of the Encyclopaedia and how knowledgeable he could have been on the topic. I am afraid – this is only my personal opinion – that the Encyclopaedia mostly compiled existing information from flag charts, which were themselves copycats, and therefore cannot be considered as a reliable source for flags.

If the flag was in use until the XXth century, are there any sources more recent then the Encyclopaedia which could confirm the existence of the flag?

Could the six red crosses and chalice be a confusion with Galicia in what is now Poland and Ukraine? The chalice was a symbol of the Hussite reformers, in neighbouring (at least not too remote) Bohemia.

Ivan Sache, 30 Sep 2003

I'd be willing to bet that this is what it is. White and red makes me suspicious, since I'm pretty sure that Galicia has used sky-blue and white for many years. Also, my old (1907) Encyclopedia Britannica pays far more attention to Galicia (Austro-Hungary, as was) than the Spanish Galicia. The former was described as being an autonomous region and, of course, the political changes of WWI would have been a likely cause of the flag's demise in the early years of the 20th century.

James Dignan, 30 Sep 2003

I'd be tempted to take you up on that bet ;-) My reasons for skepticism about the conjecture are:

  1. If it was really supposed to be an ensign, then the fact that Polish Galicia is landlocked would certainly be a stumbling block
  2. Galicia may have had a degree of autonomy under the Austro-Hungarian regime in 1907, but that had only been granted in 1867. When the Encyclopedia was published Galicia was still incorporated in the Kingdom of Poland.
  3. It is very doubtful that the chalice would have been intended as a Hussite symbol on any flag in an 18th century Catholic state, whether Austria, Poland, or Spain. The Hussites did not govern Galicia (they may have raided it occasionally, but that would hardly induce the locals to want to honor their emblems), and in any case the Hussites had been throughly repressed by the Counter-Reformation by 1648. In any case, I'm not quite sure what the device is supposed to be, but it doesn't really look like a chalice to me in the version of the flag published in Norie/Hobbs.

Ned Smith, 01 Oct 2003

I think the flag with a chalix and crosses was used only as a religious banner.

António Martins-Tuválkin, 06 Oct 2003

While the "Galician ensign" appeared in many flag charts up to 1842, it is most probably mistaken and, if it was ever used as an ensign, it was abandoned long before the adoption of the red-yellow-red ensign in 1785.

Santiago Dotor, 07 Oct 2003

Spurious Contemporary Reconstructions of Purported Historic Galician Flags

Flag Spuriously Attributed to Swabian Kingdom of Galicia

[Spurious Contemporary Reconstruction of Flag

of Swabian Kingdom of Galicia (Galicia, Spain)]

image by Anjo Abelaira, 06 Apr 2005

Flag Spuriously Attributed to Late Medieval Galicia

[Spurious Contemporary Reconstruction of

'Holy Grail' Banner of Arms (Galicia, Spain)]

image by Anjo Abelaira, 06 Apr 2005


Spurious Contemporary Reconstruction of "Kingdom of Gallaecia" Flag

Between AD 407 and 410 about 30,000 Swabian-Germans arrived to the Roman province of Gallaecia and took over the administration of the territory from the Roman Empire. The first Swabian king, Hermeric, established feudal relations with all the Galician chieftains, founding a kingdom known for two centuries as "Galliciense Regnum" (Kingdom of Gallaecia) or "Regnum Suevorum" (Kingdom of the Swabians).

Anjo Abelaira, 06 Apr 2005

One cannot enough stress the fact that this flag never existed. It is not even worth discussing – the reasoning behind it is pure fiction. Not to mention the fact that the dragon appears to be borrowed from the Welsh flag and the lion from (IIRC) the Heraldique Europeene website.

Santiago Dotor, 07 Apr 2005

The oldest historical flag in Galicia: in February 15th 1669 the General Council of the Kingdom of Galicia declared that

"(...) from then onwards it was decided to erase the green dragon and the red lion (arms of the Swabian kings who ruled this country at the time) and bring onto the golden field of the arms the consecrated wafer (...)."
This document describing the flag of the Swabian kings of Galicia was was brought back to the public eye in 1927 by historian Pérez Constanti in his book "Notas Viejas Galicianas" (Ancient texts from Galicia).

Based on that historical description from the Council of the Kingdom of Galicia in 1669 we have made a modern flag featuring a green dragon and a red lion over a gold field. The position on the flag of the dragon and the lion has been determined according the common features of European heraldry, which is two rampant beasts facing and confronting each other.

This flag can also be used as a historical symbol by many territories which used to be part of the ancient Kingdom of Gallaecia: modern Galicia, northern Portugal, and the neighbouring regions of Bierzo, Asturias, and Leon.


Isalguer Almenara, 25 Aug 2006

Spurious Contemporary Reconstruction of "Holy Grail" Banner of Arms

The Holy Grail has been the flag and coat of arms of Galicia since the XIII century. The Grail first appeared as the Arms of the Kings of Galyce on the Segar Armorial in England circa 1282. This first appearance showed three Grails over an azure field. Later on, the Arms changed to just one golden Grail alone over a blue flag; that is the way it appears on the Bergshammar Armorial (Sweden, 1436) or on the Gymnich Armorial (Flanders, 1445). During the 15th century the flag started to be made on other colours such as with a white or red field instead of blue, and it also started to be decorated with varied icons such as angels or crosses.

The crosses around the Holy Grail were added to the flag from the 15th century as a simple way of decorating the empty space around the Grail. Originally, the number of crosses was 6 -three on each side of the Grail- plus a seventh one over the Grail. On some old flags, those original 6 crosses have also appeared under the shape of stars (symbol of the 6 Galician Churches: Lugo, Iria, Britonia, Tui, Ourense and Astorga) or shells (Coat of Arms of the city of Corunna).

The Holy Grail became progressively as a symbol of Galicia and a new and modern blue-diagonal-band flag was adopted during the XIX century. In 1972 the Royal Academy of Galicia officialised the Holy Grail as the historical Coat of Arms of Galicia, adding to it a new feature: a Crown. The flag we have reproduced is a 7 cross + Holy Grail over azure field flag, based on the XV-XIX flag tradition, brought together with the official design of the Galician Academy made in 1972.

Anjo Abelaira, 06 Apr 2005

One cannot enough stress the fact that this flag never existed. It is not even worth discussing – the reasoning behind it is pure fiction. The alleged flag is an armorial banner of the current arms of Galicia, adopted in 1972 following designs of the 17th century – long after Galicia had lost all independence or home rule, according to the Galician regional government (Source).

Santiago Dotor, 07 Apr 2005


Galician "Nunca Máis" Flags

[Galician 'Nunca Máis' Flag (Galicia, Spain)]
image by Jorge Candeias, 04 Dec 2003
[Galician 'Nunca Máis' Flag (Galicia, Spain)]
image by Jorge Candeias, 04 Dec 2003

100 days have passed since the disaster of the Liberian-registered single-hull oil tanker "Prestige" that sank some 165 miles off Galicia, Spain, causing the worst fuel oil pollution ever in the region.

To protest against the mismanagement of the crisis during and in the aftermath of the oil pollution, next sunday, 23 February, there will be several demonstrations in Madrid, Lisbon, Brussels and Paris. It's expected that "Nunca Máis" (Never Again) protest flags will fly in all those demonstrations. It is a Galician flag with a black field (for oil) instead of the white, and with the words "Nunca Máis" in white.

Francisco Santos, 21 Feb 2003

When we passed the first anniversary of the Prestige disaster, there was a very large demonstration in the Galician capital, Santiago de Compostela, to mark the anniversary and to protest against the incompetent management of the situation by the Spanish government and Galician autonomical government. The PÚBLICO newspaper published a black and white photo of the demonstration, showing large numbers of flags, mostly of left-wing political organizartions. The overwhelming majority of flags are:

  • A – "Nunca Máis" flags. Not simply the black flag with a light blue diagonal band, but that within a white border; on a few the border is much larger than usual.
  • B – Flags of the Bloque Nacionalista Galego (Galician Nacionalist Bloc)

Jorge Candeias, 04 Dec 2003