This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Bavaria (Germany)

Bayern, Free State of Bavaria, Freistaat Bayern

Last modified: 2023-12-30 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: bavaria | bayern | bicolour | lozenges(21) | lozengy | inescutcheon | supporters | coronet | franconian rake | lions(black;3) | lion(golden) | panther |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Striped Civil and State Flag (Bavaria, Germany)] 2:3  [Lozengy Civil and State Flag (Bavaria, Germany)] 3:5 
images by M. Schmöger
Both flags used unofficially since 1945, adopted 14 December 1953
On this page: Other Bayern pages: Political Parties: See also:


Blue-white lozengy of at least 21 pieces was adopted as alternative 14 Dec 1953. Illustrated in Smith 1975 p. 227
Norman Martin, 1998

The number of lozenges is only fixed to a minimum of 21, including the incomplete ones. That means that flags with more lozenges are correct. The shape of the lozenges is not fixed by the law, but the (incomplete) lozenge in the upper corner must be a white one.
Dieter Linder, 12 Jan 1998

Both horizontal and vertical flags with blue over white stripes or blue and white lozenges without arms can be considered official for use as state and civil flag and as civil ensign (on lakes and rivers) [thus ]. The variants with arms are not only unofficial, but strictly speaking illegal. However, the de facto used civil flag is in most cases a lozengy flag with the arms.
M. Schmöger, 28 Jan 2001

The angle of the lines forming the lozenges is not prescribed. There are many variants available.
M. Schmöger, 2 Feb 2001

Shade of Blue

There is absolutely no standard for the Bavarian blue. Usually it is a kind of medium pale blue, something like:
RGB 0-128-255  
or the like. However, you can also find paler types of blue like:
RGB 0-204-255  
or darker types like:
RGB 0-0-204   (FOTW dark blue or B+)
 but never as dark as the blue in the British Union Flag for instance, about:
RGB 0-0-102  
M. Schmöger, 9 Mar 2001

I would say that use of dark blue RGB 0-0-204 is definitely not correct for two reasons. Firstly, being from Bavaria, I have never ever seen it being used. Secondly, and more important, the colours are described in the Bavarian anthem "the colours of the sky, white and blue" and sky blue is definitely a light shade of blue. Further, I would think that a very light shade (RGB 0-204-255) is the more popular colour (the folkloric or "Beer Festival" type) while the slightly darker RGB 0-128-255 is more frequent in official use, e.g. on government flags.
Stefan Clement, 31 Mar 2002

Stefan Clement is basically right about the use of a darker shade of blue for more "official" use instead of the lighter shade, that is used as "Beer Festival" type. This would be one of my research projects, if I would have enough time: the shade of the Bavarian blue over the time and for different uses.
As regards the dark blue 0-0-204, I would have agreed with Stefan Clement, say two years ago. Since then, however, I have visited many municipalities researching municipal flags, where I have also looked at the Bavarian flags in storage. Many of the older Bavarian flags in storage, mostly striped, not lozengy flags, but always hanging flags, show a quite dark blue, decidedly darker than usual now. If this should be represented on screen as RGB 0-0-204 is another question, as it is always, especially with the blue shades.
There is no legal definition of the blue, so basically any blue would do. The colours derive from the lozengy arms of the Wittelsbach family and in heraldry there is no distinction between light blue or dark blue, so I would guess that in most times different shades had been in use. The Bavarian anthem does not help much as the sky can have quite a range of different shades of blue. Of course the anthem did influence the perception by the people of a light shade of "sky blue" being the more correct shade of the Bavarian blue.
M. Schmöger, 7 Apr 2002

Vertical Flags

Editor's note: see also Vertical Lozengy Flags.

Reported c.1970 Oktoberfest 2000 no.1 Oktoberfest 2000 no.2
[Vertical flag c.1970 (Bavaria, Germany)] 3:1 [Vertical flag Oktoberfest 2000 no.1 (Bavaria, Germany)] 3:1 [Vertical flag Oktoberfest 2000 no.2 (Bavaria, Germany)] 6:1
by Jaume Ollé by M. Schmöger by M. Schmöger

Some vexillological observations during the 2000 Oktoberfest:

  • In front of the Feldherrnhalle (General's Hall) there were two large flagstaffs, one displaying a large Bavarian white-blue striped bicolour, the other a Munich black-yellow striped bicolour (de-by-m3.gif). Both had proportion of about 3:1. At the top of the flagstaffs there were distinctive finials: a lion for Bavaria, a monk for Munich. I guess these flags are among the largest flags in Bavaria.
  • At the Rathaus (town hall) there were very long vertical flags (about 6:1): Bavaria, Germany and Munich.
  • All around the old town of Munich there were groups of flagstaffs installed displaying alternately the Bavarian flag and the Munich flag. The flags used had a proportion of about 3:1 (higher than wide) and consisted of white-blue lozenges or black-yellow lozenges, respectively.
  • The buses and trams displayed a triangular flag white-blue and one black-yellow.
M. Schmöger, 6 Oct 2000

Most official authorities (e.g. the Bavarian ministries) use vertical flags (German and Bavarian) as their official flag on the building. So one could call that 'regular' here in Bavaria.
M. Schmöger, 2 Feb 2001

Coat-of-Arms Staatswappen

Greater Coat-of-Arms
großes bayerisches Staatswappen

[Greater Coat-of-Arms (Bavaria, Germany)] image by M. Schmöger

Lesser Coat-of-Arms
kleines bayerisches Staatswappen

[Lesser Coat-of-Arms (Bavaria, Germany)] Image by M. Schmöger

These are the two versions of the Bavarian coat-of-arms:
- Greater arms (großes bayerisches Staatswappen): quartered shield with inescutcheon and lions as supporters;
- Lesser arms (kleines bayerisches Staatswappen): just the inescutcheon of the greater arms (lozengy of white and blue) with the crown.
M. Schmöger, 18 Feb 2001

The current (greater) arms were officially adopted on 5 June 1950.
The shield is quartered. Above right in a black field is the golden, rampant lion of the Palatinate, armed and tongued red and representing the area of Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz). Above left is the Franconian rake, representing the Bavarian parts of Franconia (Franken). Below right in a silver (= white) field is the blue, rampant panther - armed and tongued red - of the Counts of Ortenburg representing Lower Bavaria (Niederbayern). Below left in a golden (= yellow) field are the three black, passant, guardant lions of the Dukes of Swabia, representing the district of Schwaben. Finally the inescutcheon - lozengy of silver (= white) and blue - is symbolizing the
Wittelsbach kin
, rulers in Bavaria for a long time.
The arms of Wittelsbach were taken from the arms of the
Counts of Bogen
, who died out in 1242. The Wittelsbach kin was related to the Counts of Bogen and inherited their possessions alongside the Danube between Regensburg and Deggendorf. The first members of the family to use the arms were Ludwig and Heinrich, sons of Duke Otto, who used the arms in their seals around 1240. The arms have ever since been the arms of the family and thus appear in numerous arms in Bavaria, but also in surrounding states and even abroad. The number of fields was already in the 15th century fixed as at least 21. But in 1806 the number increased to 42 to symbolize the larger Kingdom of Bavaria at that time. The colours too are already known and unchanged since 1330.
The Palatine lion was added, when Ludwig I and Otto II were appointed as Counts of the Palatinate in the early 13th century. They appear on seals of Otto in 1229.
The panther is the old coat of arms of the Spanheim kin, who had large possessions in present Austria and Bavaria. The Bavarian branches named themselves after their possessions as "Von Kraiburg" and "Von Ortenburg". The Counts of Ortenburg became Counts of the Palatinate in 1209, but died out in the same century. In the Palatinate the Wittelsbach kin had already succeeded them. They also inherited and bought the possessions in Lower Bavaria in 1248 and 1259. The panther was added in the arms of the family in 1260 and used until 1390. The colours of the present panther are taken from the arms of Ingolstadt. The rake of Franconia and the lions of Staufen represent areas, which became Bavarian dominions in the 19th century. The arms of Franconia are known since 1350 for several towns in the possessions of the Bishops of Würzburg. In 1410 they also appear in the arms of the bishops themselves. Their origin is unknown, but besides the banner of Würzburg they became known as the arms of Franconia. In 1804 the newly created Duchy of Franken adapted the old arms as its symbol. The colours have always been red and white. The lions of Staufen are the arms of the Hohenstaufen kin since 1216.
Source: Stadler 1965, pp.7-10
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 13 Mar 2014

Bavarian Flag in 1945

At the end of WW2 (28 April 1945) a small Bavarian anti-Nazi resistance group, the FAB (Freiheitsaktion Bayern or Freedom Action Bavaria) occupied the broadcasting station at Freimann and encouraged the people to hoist the Bavarian flag instead of the swastika flag. In Götting (near Bad Aibling) the teacher Hangl and the priest Grimm decided to hoist the Bavarian flag at the steeple (instead of the swastika flag, called by the priest the "red hanky"; although urged by an officer to remove the flag, they didn't obey. An SS officer later that day arrested both, and they were shot shortly afterwards. On 2 May 1945 the village was liberated by American forces.
M. Schmöger, 18 Jul 2003

I think I must have said this a few years back. It should be remarked that in April 1945 (as I was going swiftly through Southern Germany), while in other parts of Germany, if we saw flags waving at all, they were white surrender flags (usually bedsheets), in Bavaria we frequently saw Bavarian bicolours.
Norman Martin, 18 Jul 2003

The Meaning of the colours

Some Bavarian acquaintances have told me that the Blau-Weiss represents the pure and beautiful lakes and rivers of Bavaria. Do any Bavarians agree? The B-W does resemble the heraldic stylization of water.
Anonymous, 24 Oct 2003

I would suppose that the origin of the tinctures in the arms of Bavaria, which have given the colours to the flag, is so old that the meaning, if there was one originally, is acctually long since forgotten. That is the case with most old national colours.
Elias Granqvist, 24 Oct 2003

Do we have pure lakes and rivers? Really? And the question is what does "represent" mean? The Bavarian colours white-blue (never say Blue-White!!) are derived from the lozengy coat-of-arms of the Wittelsbach family, that ruled Bavaria for centuries. The Wittelsbach had inherited this arms from the counts of Bogen. As with all ancient arms (except the canting ones) there is no "meaning" in the arms, at least none is known. There had been quite some debates (especially in the 19th century), what the lozenges mean, but this was all fictitious crap.
The only connection of the colours white and blue with some feature of Bavaria, can be found in the text of the Bavarian anthem: "und erhalte dir die Farben deines Himmels, Weiß und Blau" (and save you the colours of your sky, white and blue).
M. Schmöger, 24 Oct 2003

Interestingly, "Blau-Weiss" was the name of a German Jewish student group in the 1920's or so. The origin of the name is obvious.
Nathan Lamm, 24 Oct 2003

M. Schmöger asked: "Do we have pure lakes and rivers? Really?" and I ask: "And women, too?" The root "Wittel" refers to "Weiss," white, and a "Bach" is a brook, usually blue, and here we have the pure white and blue rivers, haven't we? Lakes are useful in Bavaria only to drown crazy kings, which is more human than beaheading or guillotinizing them.
Ivan Sache, 24 Oct 2003

Bavarian Flag variant in TV movie

Image from M. Schmöger, 31 Mar 2009

A few weeks ago German TV broadcasted a TV movie called "Der Bär ist los! Die Geschichte von Bruno." which had a Bavarian flag variant in it. The TV movie was the story about the first brown bear in Bavaria for more than hundred years (called Bruno). The movie was meant to be somewhat humorous, but well...
It included several instances of a variant of the Bavarian flag not already mentioned: namely a hanging flag, lozengy, with the Greater Arms, but not with the current one, rather the 1923 arms. This flag variant can be seen sometimes in the wild, but not "that" often. The arms itself is rather popular, in particular among heraldists, because it is more straightforward, simple and clean than the current (post 1950) arms. The famous Otto Hupp was the designer of the 1923 arms. The movie also showed this bear while "critically inspecting" a border sign with the current Bavarian arms.
M. Schmöger, 31 Mar 2009

back to index of German states page click here