Tartu

Symbols of Tartu

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While walking around Tartu and seeing all the red and white flags, you might think that the  people of the city have some sort of strange fascination with Poland. The flag in fact belongs to Tartu, however it does indeed have Polish roots. It all started back in 1584 when King Stephan Bathory of Poland gave the flag to the city after his forces drove out Ivan the Terrible of Russia. Poland now uses a very similar flag, adopted in 1919, but Tartu has been using its version for over 400 years. The flag’s equal-sized, horizontal bands are red and white, the same colours used by the Hanseatic League, to which Tartu – or Dorpat as it was then known – belonged. The middle of the flag bears a large image of Tartu’s coat of arms, which contain the symbols of the city – a stronghold, a key and a  sword. These symbols were also used on the Tartu coin when the city had its own currency in the 15th Century.

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