Its time for another episode of Fun with Flags! After explaining the Catalan flag in our first episode and its Independence spinoff, La Estelada, in our second; it is time to talk about the flag of the city. The Barcelona city flag actually has two flags inside: the Senyera (detailed in episode 1) and what most people recognize, English flag. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the flag of Barcelona:
As you can see above, the Catalan flag occupies two of the four sections in which the flag is divided. You will remember, as the legend goes, that the four bars come from the blood of Wilfred the Hairy after Charles the Bald drew his four fingers (dipped in Wilfred’s blood) across his golden shield.
The other two are occupied by that English flag, most importantly, the cross of Saint George. I have spoken various times about the importance of Saint George, Jordi in Catalan, within Barcelona and greater Catalonia but will rehash it here as well. It is important to note that Saint Jordi is the Patron Saint of Catalonia and his cross has been a symbol of the city since the Middle Ages.
As the story goes, Saint George saves the Princess from being eaten by the terrifying dragon who was pillaging the village of Montblanc, when he comes riding in on his noble stead, stabbing the dragon with his lance. From the dragon’s blood a rose appears which is presented to the princess. April 23rd is one of the most important days in Barcelona during the festivities celebrating the Patron Saint. The victory over the dragon symbolizes the victory of good over evil and Christianity over Paganism; both Saint George and dragons can be found all throughout the city.
Other versions, and even other flags, have been used throughout the years. Even in the 16th century the flag of Saint Eulalia (the Patron Saint of the city of Barcelona) was often used when leading troops in battles.
As you can see in the flag of Santa Eulalia some of the same symbols appear on each side of the figure of Santa Eulalia in the center. Eulalia is holding a cross as the last of the 13 tortures she underwent in the 4th century from the Romans for her Christian beliefs, the last of which saw her placed on that cross before she was beheaded.
One difference you might notice in the flag is the vertical facing stripes of the Senyera as opposed to the horizontal facing stripes we see in the original flag. It is thought that this is what dates back to the original ideal from as early as the 14th century, found in some shields. Over the years, and throughout the dictatorships, the design has encompassed between two and four red stripes in either a horizontal or vertical orientation. The version currently used did not become the official flag of the city until 2004.