9 Things You Didn't Know About the Flag of Portugal
1. The current flag of Portugal became official in 1911 with the establishment of Portugal’s First Republic. With the creation of the First Republic, a new constitution was created that abolished the monarchy and secularized the state.
2. Previous versions of Portugal's flag featured a blue and white background, the colors of the monarchy. Red and green were actually the colors of the Republican party.
3. It is said that green represents hope for the future once the First Republic was established, while red represents blood lost in battle (specifically in the Revolution that helped abolish the monarchy).
4. The oldest part of the flag is Portugal's coat of arms, which is composed of five blue shields on a white backdrop. These five shields have remained a part of the flag since Portugal became a country in the 11th century.
5. The red shield represents victories against the Moors, featuring seven yellow castles along the edges and Portugal's coat of arms in the center. The yellow castles represent the Moorish fortresses that were taken over in battle and the blue shields within the coat of arms represent the five Moorish kings killed by the first King of Portugal, Afonso I.
6. Although it's disputed, legend says that the white dots on Portugal's coat of arms represent the five wounds of Christ, who appeared to Afonso I and supposedly ensured his success in the battle where five Moorish kings were killed.
7. The yellow ribbon-like sphere that encompasses the red shield is an armillary sphere, which is a navigational tool used by Portuguese navigators to sail the oceans. This symbol represents Portugal's maritime achievements during the European Age of Discovery, where extensive overseas exploration took place.
8. The flag was designed by three national figures including the Realist painter Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro; journalist and politician João Pinheiro Chagas, and as well as the diplomat and writer, Abel Botelho.
9. The Portuguese flag has been referred to by several names. One of the most popular designations is Bandeira das Quinas (Flag of the Shields, referring specifically to the five blue shields). Portugal's national soccer team is also referred to as a Selecção das Quinas, in reference to the blue shields found on the country's flag.