After the smashing hit that we saw with the first episode of Patrick Guide Barcelona’s Fun with Flags, we are back with Episode 2, La Estelada. A look at the adapted version of the official Catalan flag, La Senyera, which we saw in Episode 1 along with the Spanish flag. In Episode 2: La Estelada, we will take a closer look at a flag you will not find flown on any government buildings, but has seen a definite increase in popularity in the last several years on the balconies of the citizenry. While not an official flag of any government, it it one you will most likely encounter as you walk around Barcelona. Known as La Estelada, the flag contains the exact same background of the Senyera, four red bars over a yellow landscape, but includes a blue triangle with a white star at its center.
Although a previous flag containing a blue rhombus containing a white star at the center of the Senyera is dated to 1908, it was Viçenc Albert Ballester (1872-1938), who is credited with the creation of the current make of the Estelada. Many people walking around the city will recognize the Puerto Rican flag, or even mistake it as the Cuban flag (the flags have inverse patterns) as many times the sun’s rays fade the yellow stripes of the Senyera to make them appear white. Both Cuba and Puerto Rico were once colonies of a vast Spanish Empire that by the end of the 19th century had slowly been dwindling down. The Spanish-American War of 1898 saw the loss of the last of these colonies, commonly referred to around here as the “Disaster”, with strong repercussions from many Intellectuals known as the Generation of ’98. It was Ballester, who, while living in Cuba decided to create the version that has been used for the past 100 years.
Over the years, other versions of the Estelada have popped up. The most common, looks very similar but exchanges the blue triangle for a yellow one with a red star. This version popped up in the 1970’s and has some more socialist vibes to it. It is also used in defense of the Països Catalans or “Catalan countries”, regions in Spain and abroad where the Catalan language has been used historically; these areas include Catalunya today, Northern Catalunya (Roussillon in France), the border with Aragón (La Franja), Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Andorra, and even Alghero in Italy today. The Catalan language is widely spoken throughout Catalunya, but a dialect is still spoken today within the Spanish regions of Valencia and the Balearic Islands. Before the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed in 1659, ceding the areas over the Pyrenees to France as part of the 30 Years War, the Principality of Catalonia was much larger. Today this area is often referred to as Northern Catalunya or Catalunya del Nord.
You may also see the football versions of the Esteladas that the city’s top teams’ supporters might display. F.C. Barcelona displayed to the left and lesser known Espanyol to the right.
The Estelada made a strong showing on balconies in the lead up to the Olympic Games of 1992 and has become much more prominent in the past several years and the average visitor will notice its presence throughout the city.