The Coat of Arms and Flag of Vitebsk.
Traditions of modern Vitebsk harks back to ornate labyrinth of history, with ups and downs, prosperity and feats. But this would not be possible without a symbol of sovereignty and independence of the city Ц the Coat of Arms and Flag of Vitebsk, which not only capture the essence of the past years, but also determine the further development of Vitebsk.
Modern Coat of Arms of Vitebsk was approved by the relevant decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus on February 9, 2004. Although the city of Vitebsk acquired its own Coat of Arms first much earlier Ц on March 17, 1597, when the prince of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Zhigimont III Vasa gave Magdeburg Rights to the city. In 1623, after an uprising of citizens, Vitebsk was deprived not only Magdeburg Rights, but the Coat of Arms also. Although the symbols of independence and sovereignty were returned to the city for special military services - but only in the 1644.
In 1722 the Coat of Arms of Vitebsk abolished - the reason for this was the fact that the city joined the Russian Empire. But, despite this, the Coat of Arms had been at the City Hall until 1820s. Although from time to time new Coats of Arms of the city emerge, but as symbols of the city they had been existed quite not long. And only at the beginning of XXI century, it all clicked into place, and the Coat of Arms of Vitebsk, proven by history and time, once again became a symbol of the prosperous, independent and peaceful city.
In the heart of the modern Coat of Arms of Vitebsk lies the initial version of Vitebsk Coat of Arms, known since 1597. To be precise, this is the profile of Jesus Christ depicted in the blue field of Spanish Shield. Studying the symbolism of the Coat of Arms, we can say that it reflects a religious (the image of Jesus Christ) and defensive (a naked sword) essence. Analyzing the history of Vitebsk, it is clear that in the Coat of Arms hides a deep sense of patriotism and self-knight together with the love of native city, its history. Dominant blue is a symbol of greatness, loyalty, integrity, and stresses the forward motion towards dreams and hopes.
The image of Christ is turned to the right and at the top - left and right Ц there are the letters "IS" and "XS" with titles. In addition, the letters with titles are plotted in the lower part of the shield. Below, under the Savior, a naked silver sword is posted with a gilded hilt, directed to the left edge. Gold and silver chosen not by chance Ц these are compelling characters of sincere, sincerity, honor, self-reliance, compassion and humility.
Weapon - is not only a symbol of militancy and heroic deeds, but also justice. It is an expression of the will, which is aimed at resolving the conflict and defend the Homeland from enemies. A sword is an essential symbol of human freedom, and in the western tradition, this weapon is endowed with the power of the light to fight the ever-present forces of darkness. That is why it so appropriate to the image of Christ the Savior on the Coat of Arms of Vitebsk. And Christianity assigned a special part to the sword - it is a symbol of the spirit and word of God. Although, initially, for greater expressiveness and reflection of the tragic experienced events the sword, depicted on the Coat of Arms of Vitebsk, was blooded because of the history of Vitebsk, rich with dramatic twists and dates. In fact, at the present time, the drops of blood on the Coat of Arms are no longer relevant, and therefore a clean sword without flaws is taken as the basis.
Red cartouche, in which Spanish shield is depicted, perfectly complement green belt in combination with red flowers. Yet two red ribbons, concisely intertwining around laurel branches are shown below. The colours Ц red and green Ц were chosen not by chance. Red colour in the armory is a symbol of not only love, courage, courage, and generosity, but also a symbol of the blood shed for the country, faith, and the Emperor. Green colour is a clear evidence of generosity, joy and great honour. Flowers symbolize life and death, rebirth and prosperity. At the bottom the Coat of Arms of Vitebsk is decorated with laurel branches - a symbol of glory, valor and constancy.
The Cherub, which crowns the Coat of Arms of Vitebsk, is shown with outstretched wings. On each side, left and right, two angels are shown who carefully support the shield with blue ribbons. The presence of the Divine means not only protection of the population of the city from all evils, but also purity, innocence. If angels are an indisputable symbol of the good news, the Cherub, uniting the spiritual and the material principle, - is a messenger of the gods and the executor of the divine will on earth.
However, other variants of the Coat of Arms of the city appear in the history of Vitebsk, due to historical dates. For example, joining the Russian Empire had an impact not only on its development, but also the existence of state symbols. The former Coat of Arms was abolished and instead of it, in 1781, the city adopted a completely different symbols - it was a race on the white-red-white background, crowned by a double-headed eagle and the imperial crown.
However, the new Coat of Arms did not last long - less than a century. Already in 1856 it was replaced by a new - or rather advanced, Coat of Arms of Vitebsk. I was the same race. A dark-red shield and a silver horse rider gave more militant expressivity to the Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms was crowned with the imperial crown, and decorated with gold ribbons on each side, the colour symbolizing humility, patience, and adherence to the principles of the new power.
However, this Coat of Arms did not become so popular to resist the test of centuries steadfastly. Perhaps the secret is that the symbols of the Coat of Arms could not reliably reflect the true essence of the city, its ideas, aspirations and bloody pages of the history. A instead of it showed a distorted picture. Therefore, now, when there was a need for a return back to the history, Vitebsk got its original symbols of independence and sovereignty: the original Coat of Arms of Vitebsk, known since 1597, became a real decoration of the city. After all, it reflects the essence of the city - from the heroic past to the prosperous and peaceful future.
The Flag of Vitebsk is a harmonious addition to the Coat of Arms Ц it is a blue square cloth with the Coat of Arms of Vitebsk in the centre.