Last modified: 2002-05-31 by ivan sache
Keywords: albania | shqiperia | europe | eagle: double-headed | president | skanderbeg | seal | helmet |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
by Carlos Esparza
Flag adopted 7 April 1992, coat of
arms adopted 22 May 1993
Description: A black double-headed eagle on a red field.
Use: on land, civil, state and war flag, at sea, state ensign.
Colour approximate specifications (as given in Album des Pavillons [pay00]):
On this page:
Gules, a double-headed eagle sable. The eagle goes back to George
Castriota, an Albanian Christian who became a Turkish general in the
15th century under the name of Iskander Bey, or Skanderbeg. He later
returned to the Christian faith and led the fight of the Albanians
against the Turks in the 1440's. He used the Byzantine two-headed
eagle on his seals, hence the modern flag. The modern flag had at
various times a helmet or a star above the
eagle. The star gules lined or dates from the
Communist takeover in 1946 and has recently
The violation of the usual tincture rule may not necessarily be due to the fact that it is a flag rather than "real" arms: see the Subic arms of Bosnia, which were gules, a wing displayed sable.
Francois Velde, 30 June 1995
"In 1443, during the battle against the Hungarians of Hunyadi in
Nish (in present day Serbia), he [Skenderbeg] abandoned the Ottoman
Army and captured Kruja, his father's seat in middle Albania. Above
the castle he rose the Albanian flag, a red flag with the black
double-headed eagle, the present-day Albanian flag, and pronounced to
his countrymen the famous words: "I have not brought you liberty, I
found it here, among you". He managed to unite all Albanian princes
at the town of Lezha (League of Lezha, 1444) and united them under
his command to fight against the Turks.
During the next 25 years he fought, with forces rarely exceeding 20,000 against the most powerful army of that time and defeated it for 25 years. In 1450 the Turkish army was led by the Sultan Murad II in person, who died after his defeat in the way back. Two other times, in 1466 and 1467, Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, led the Turkish army himself against Skenderbeg and failed too. The Ottoman Empire attempted to conquer Kruja 24 times and failed all 24 of them. [but finally seized Kruja on 16 June 1478, after Skanderbeg's death in 1468]"
The fortress has been partially rebuilt and is now a museum (Muzeu i Gjergji Kastriotit Skënderbeut). In one of the halls are shown the reconsituted standards of the lords who faught with Skanderbeg. The history of Kruja siege is depicted in Kadare's novel 'The rain drums'.
Ivan Sache, 1 May 1999, citing and expanding a website dedicated to Skanderbeg
The nickname of the flag is flamur e Skenderbeut (Skanderbeg's flag).
Stephen Schwartz, 5 April 2001
from the website of the Albanian Ministry of Information
Article 14 of the Constitution approved by the Albanian Parliament on 21 October 1998.
Source: Website of the Albanian Parliament
(1) Skanderbeg's helmet already appeared on Albanian flags during the monarchic period. Ironically, the current seal is very close to the former royal standard. The original helmet is preserved in Wien, and a replica is shown in the Skanderbeg Museum in Kruja. The helmet bears goat horns, and the legend says that Skanderbeg used goat horns because he was able to climb upon rocks like a goat to set up ambushes against the Turkish troops. Most of his victories against the huge Turkish Army were indeed due to his topographical knowledge and science of guerilla, not to mention his political skills having allowed unity of all Albanian tribes.
(2) It refers to 28 November 1912, when Ismail Qemal proclaimed the independence of Albania in Vlora.
Ivan Sache, 26 November 2000
by Jaume Ollé
The current Albanian presidential flag is identical to the
previous one with the star