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Municipalities in Carinthia (Austria)

Gemeinden in Kärnten

Last modified: 2013-07-24 by rob raeside
Keywords: municipality: austria | carinthia | kaernten |
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Territorial subdivisions

Kärnten (Carinthia) is currently divided into 132 municipalities; however, the number has changed over time due to fusions and fissions of municipalities. Several times this has also led to flags and coats-of-arms disappearing, reappearing and newly being granted. This is very much different from other Austrian states, where municipal rearrangements only rarely have interferred with the arms and flags.
Marcus Schmöger
, 29 December 2009

As I am sure that Marcus is aware, but I believe should at least be mentioned in an overview - the historical Carinthia is now divided between Austria and Slovenia, as demarcated after the World War I, so some of the historical Carinthian towns are now in Slovenia. These include Dravograd (Unterdrauburg), Mežica, Ravne, Muta, Črna and Prevalje as well as Jezersko. Some of them have historical coats-of-arms as well.
Željko Heimer
, 29 December 2009

I am aware, and one should mention that a small part also came to Italy (Malborghetto and Tarvisio). However, as there are no flags (only coats-of-arms) known from the pre-1918 period, I decided not to elaborate on this. And Ströhl [stl04] does show coats-of-arms only for the two towns now in Italy, not for any now Slovenian ones.
Marcus Schmöger
, 4 January 2010


Municipal coats-of-arms

As with other parts of Austria, only historical cities, towns and market-towns have historical coats-of-arms, some of them adopted as seals in the 13th century (the seal of Villach is the oldest city seal known from Austria, known since 1240), some of them granted as arms from 1456 to 1629, some of them adopted without known grant during the 17th/18th century.

Ströhl [stl04] describes 22 towns and market-towns as having their own arms, however with a number of mistakes.

Modern municipal heraldry starts in the 1930ies with the granting of four coats-of-arms (Maria Saal, Steinfeld, Rosegg, Sankt Ruprecht), all of them showing the Carinthian colours in the arms. After WWII, more municipalities received their arms, in particular after the respective legal changes in 1957. Most of the grants occurred in the 1960ies, but only in 2006 the last municipality (Flattach) finally received an arms.

In a number of cases, historical arms were re-granted or reconfirmed, usually in a somewhat cleaned or modernised version.

As in other parts of Austria or Germany, the State Archives (Kärntner Landesarchiv) play a prominent role in the arms adoption process, functioning as a de facto "College of Arms".
Marcus Schmöger
, 29 December 2009


Municipal flags

Currently, I do not have any knowledge about municipal flags in Carinthia before 1960; nor do I know much about unofficial flags used before or instead of the officially granted ones.

Different from other parts of Austria, municipal flags were granted rather early, i.e. from 1960 onwards. This is due to the new Gemeindeordnung (municipal code) enacted 1957, that contained the right to a flag for all municipalities having an arms.

The current Gemeindeordnung (as of 1998) says (my translation):
§ 6
(1) Gemeinden, welche zur Führung eines Wappens berechtigt sind, haben das Recht, eine Fahne zu führen.
(2) Die Fahne zeigt die in der Wappenurkunde festgelegten Farben des Wappens mit eingearbeitetem Wappen.
§ 6
(1) Municipalities entitled to the bearing of an arms have the right to bear a flag.
(2) The flag shows the armorial colours determined in the heraldic letters patent, including the arms.

Thus, the regulation is much more precise than in other Austrian states. This is in congruence with the fact that the heraldic letters patent since 1960 do not only show a coloured drawing of the arms, but also a coloured drawing of the flag. The flag is always drawn as a vertical (hanging) flag, with the arms placed on the stripes slightly above the center.


Two-striped vs. three-striped flags

76,5% of the flags show two stripes and 23,5% show three stripes. Three-striped flags were only exceptionally granted after 1975, most probably due to the opinion (also held in Tirol), that municipal flags have to be two-striped.
Marcus Schmöger, 29 December 2009

This is again, not only Carinthian (and Tirolian) "opinion", it seems to have been officially or unofficially followed by many countries of former Habsburg domain - cf. the Slovenian system of municipal flags as presented by Valt Jurečič in 1993 ICV and since partially enforced; then the Croatian system of bicolours for counties and monocolours for cities/communities.
Željko Heimer
, 29 December 2009

Well, the interesting thing is that in other parts of Austria three-striped flags are very common (Lower and Upper Austria), and even four-striped ones do occur. So in modern Austrian municipal vexillology the idea of two-striped municipal flags is particular to Tirol and Carinthia (perhaps also Burgenland).
Marcus Schmöger
, 4 January 2010


Flag variants and sources

The flag gifs I am going to send will be based on four different kinds of sources:
1. Image after the drawings in the main source "Deuer" [dew06].
2. Image after the drawings in the heraldic letters patent.
3. Image after one or several photographs of actual flags.
4. Image after another drawing.

The numbers will be used for identifying different gifs as well, i.e. at-k-xxx1.gif would identify a gif after Deuer, at-k-xxx3.gif after a photograph etc.

Of course, only in rare cases I have available all the sources, only Deuer provides me with drawings of all the flags. I have photographs of about 90% of the flags, which is rather high, compared to other parts of Austria.

The drawings from the different sources would differ mostly in the following points:
- ratio of the flag
- position of the arms
- size of the arms
- colour shades

The flag drawings in Deuer are rather standardized, and would in theory provide a good basis for gifs. However, they do very much differ from the (few available) drawings in the letters patent, as well as from photographs of real flags. The main issue with the Deuer drawings is the position of the arms, which is way too much offset to the top of the flag.
Marcus Schmöger, 29 December 2009


See also: