The flag of Amsterdam is the official flag for Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands. The current design of the flag depicts three Saint Andrew's Crosses and is based on the escutcheon in the coat of arms of Amsterdam.
Design journalist Roman Mars declared it during a TED Talk in 2015 to be the most "badass" city flag in the world, as well as an example to others. He particularly praised the simplicity and popular appeal that led to its widespread use.
The colours of the flag are derived primarily from the shield of Amsterdam's coat of arms. According to the city government, its origin could go back to the coat of arms of the Persijn family, which once owned a large tract of land in the capital. These colors, as well as the crosses, are to be seen in the flags of both Ouder-Amstel and Amstelveen.
The popular legend that the three Saint Andrew's crosses were meant to ward off fire, floods and the black plague is unfounded as the use of three St. Andrews crosses by noble families in the area precedes the arrival of the Black Death in Europe.
In the coats of arms of two other Dutch cities, Dordrecht and Delft, the middle stripe symbolises water. In regards to Amsterdam, this black strip becomes the River Amstel. This could be why other references state that the three crosses represent three fordable places in the river Amstel.
The flag was officially adopted on February 5, 1975 although it was already before this date, seen for example on the cover of the day program of the 1928 Summer Olympics held in Amsterdam. Before its official adoption there was also an unofficial use of a flag with the cities coat of arms in the middle of a red-white-black horizontal tricolor. Such a design was already in use in the 17th century, but in Amsterdam history, other designs in the colors red, black and white were also used. Sometimes the three St. Andrew crosses were placed in the white orbit of the red-white-blue Dutch national flag.
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