The motto on one of Portugal’s alternative flags – its military flag – I think is quite beautiful and whilst Portugal is not yet our homeland we certainly agree with the sentiment ‘This is my beloved blissful homeland‘. The line is taken from Os Lusíadas written during Portugal’s Golden Age by Luís Vaz de Camões, Portugal’s greatest poet. Unfortunately I do not appear to have taken a single photograph of this flag, but I do have a few of the national flag – Bandeira de Portugal.
Both the national and armed forces flags reflect the colours of the first revolutionists, and whilst they catch your eye a little bit of me is sorry they chose not to keep the blue and white of the monarchy flags. Not because I am a monarchist but because the one colour that comes to mind when I think of Portugal is blue – the blue of the sea, the blue of the skies and the blue of the azulejos. However I guess it is not surprising they went for the green and red given the flag was adopted in 1911 following the overthrowing of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910.
There is, as with most if not all flags, much history and meaning behind the creation of the Bandeira Nacional. There are also varying views on what is true and what is myth. What does the flag mean to you?
According to various websites I’ve stumbled across most seem to agree the green represents hope. There is less agreement about the red, but I did like the official description that red is seen as the colour of conquest and laughter. There is consistency on the yellow sphere. It is an armillary sphere representing Portugal’s Golden Age – the age of maritime discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries. The white shield with five blue shields is the coat of arms adopted by Afonso Henriques I and has appeared on every Portuguese flag since the 12th century. Afonso Henriques I is considered the father of Portugal as he defeated the Moors to establish the Christian kingdom of Portugal in 1139. The seven castles have also appeared repeatedly over the years. They represent the victories over the Moors in Portugal’s other kingdom – the Algarve and so their inclusion in the red banner also reflect that Portugal is the United Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarve. The number of castles did vary in Portugal’s early years but since the 15th century have remained at seven.
There is quite a complicated protocol for how the flag might be used, including how it is folded. One of the rules which caught my eye is where the flag should be hoisted if there is more than one flag pole. According to Regras que regem o uso da Bandeira Nacional when there are more than three flagpoles outside a building it should always be hoisted on the far right. I’ve only spotted it flying once where there were more than three flagpoles and it wasn’t on the furthest right. Do you think someone should alert the concert hall in Olhão?! There again perhaps they have been reading the guidance on the European flag. That guidance also confirms national flags usually take precedence, stating that means the European flag will go on the right of the national flag from the observers perspective. Well the European flag is on the right as you walk out of the building! The yellow flag by the way is Olhão’s flag, with its coat of arms depicted centre.