The flag of Catalonia is known as the senyera (“signal flag” in Catalan) and is one of the oldest European flags still in use today. The flag is a rectangular shape with four red horizontal stripes equally spaced on a golden background.
The colors of the flag of Catalonia have their roots in the coat of arms of the Crown of Aragon, which consists of a golden shield with four red stripes and a jeweled crown on top. According to a legend from the fourteenth century, in 897, when Barcelona was under siege by the Moors, King Charles the Bald drew four red stripes with his blood-drenched fingers as an act of gratitude on the Count of Barcelona’s golden shield. Although scholars debate the legend’s validity, the red blood and golden shield depicted in the tale influenced the colors for the Crown of Aragon’s coat of arms. The red and golden colors are used in the flags of four of Spain’s autonomous communities: Catalonia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands, and Valencia.
The origin of the actual senyera is, again, debated as scholars argue over whether the flag has its roots in the Catalan or Aragonese region of Spain. The Gran Encyclopedia Catalana argues that the senyera first appeared in the tomb of Ramon Berenguer II, a count of Barcelona who died in 1082. Advocates for the Aragonese theories argue, however, the flag was first found in the seal of Alfonso II of Aragon in 1159.
Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain, one of seventeen self-governing regions in the country. Catalonia is in the northeast region of Spain and is bordered by France to the north. The area consists of four provinces: Barcelona (the capitol), Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Although the history of this region dates back to the eighth century, Catalonia has only been an autonomous region since August 9, 2006.