The Coat-of-Arms of Ostrava

Heraldic Depiction (Blazon) of the Coat-of-Arms, The Startled Horse

Heraldic Depiction (Blazon) of the Coat-of-Arms of the City of Ostrava

znakThe city’s heraldic coat-of-arms is currently used exclusively during official and special occasions. According to municipal law, the city’s coat-of-arms may only be used with the expressed written consent of the city authorities. Only the Ostrava City Logo is used to represent the city during cultural, sporting and other events.


In a blue shield a silver horse with a golden saddle and red saddlecloth is rearing on a green field. It is accompanied on the upper left side (the viewer’s upper right) by a golden rose with green leaves between the petals and a red ovary.

There are several versions on the origin of the Ostrava coat-of-arms. One of the versions says that the figure of the white horse could obviously be a symbol of the transit location of the city. As is well-known, in the past the town was located along the so-called “Amber Road”, which was the most important trade route from the Baltic Sea to the Danube and from there to further places in Europe. Another version says that the figure of the horse was probably adopted from the family coat-of-arms of the first prefect and (probably) surveyor of Moravian Ostrava. The rose in the coat-of-arms was added from the family coat-of-arms of Olomouc Bishop Stanislav Thurz (1497-1560). Each of Ostrava’s city districts has its own coat-of-arms. This is because many of today’s city districts were independent municipalities until the first half of the twentieth century.

There are also several legends on how Ostrava got its coat-of-arms.

The Startled Horse

Once upon a time a determined enemy came to the region and laid siege to the well-fortified town. He struggled every which way to storm the walls, but the townsmen bravely defended their home. The enemy refused to withdraw and the food supplies of the besieged town markedly dwindled, quickly dashing any hope of liberation. When the townspeople were close to despair, one of them came up with a great idea. They would frighten a saddled yet unbridled horse and drive him out into the night through one of the gates amongst the enemy. The ruse depended on the enemy gathering at that gate and expecting the townsmen to be there. In the meanwhile, the townsmen would attack them from a completely different side. The plan was generally accepted and it was carried out that very night. The stampeding horse caused frightful confusion among the enemy that the townsmen quickly took advantage of – slipping out of an adjacent gate and easily putting their foes to flight. The town was saved and a great cheer rang out amongst its inhabitants. In tribute to this fortunate idea the townsmen made the startled horse the coat-of-arms of the town.

Source: Legends of the Ostrava Region, an Ostravica edition, from Repronis publishing house 2005.

For Help

It was a summer day. The sun was burning down mercilessly and it was hot enough to suffocate a person. The townsmen of Ostrava left their work lying in the fields outside the town walls with sweat pouring down their faces, because a dark, ominous and foreboding cloud appeared in the sky. At that moment a man suddenly appeared completely out of breath and with terrible distress seen on his face. With clipped and fitful words he began to beg the townsmen to drop everything and go as quickly as they could to the aid of the town of Hukvaldy, which was threatened with great peril by an enemy. When the townsmen, who had always been good and loyal subjects of the Hukvaldy lords, heard this, they did not think long about it. They immediately dropped what they were doing, grabbed their scythes and whatever was within their reach, jumped on their horses without even bothering to put on their reins and rushed to Hukvaldy as if driven by the wind. They got there at midnight sharp. They attacked the enemy from the side, where no danger was expected, and forced him to flee. The castle guards ran out at the same time and the enemy was defeated. In honour of this heroic act the bishop granted a beautiful coat-of-arms to the townsfolk. The coat-of-arms showed a horse running without reins, reminding us of the reinless routing of the enemies from Hukvaldy and also of the fast help from the Ostrava townsfolk.

Source: Legends of the Ostrava Region, an Ostravica edition, from Repronis publishing house 2005.



Towns began using emblazonry from their first use in the distant past of the Middle Ages. The simple images of those times were supposed to differentiate one particular locality from another, and also to show its exceptional status among the others since emblazonry was often granted by a ruler as a certain honour and privilege. The emblems of particular towns were also used for the sealing-stick used to seal important documents and to decorate town flags and military battalions. At a time when most people could not read and write, a simple and easy-to-understand emblem was a visual way to inspire a feeling of solidarity among the inhabitants to a certain group and town. As time passed, town emblems were changed in different ways and enriched with new symbols. The 19th and 20th centuries brought a change in the use of heraldry. Even individuals and private firms began using their own emblems. Towns kept their traditional coats-of-arms and used them during official events. Bohemian, Moravian and Silesian towns and cities, however, have also started using logos in addition to their traditional heraldic coat-of-arms. The pioneering town in this respect was Zlín, followed by Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Karlovy Vary and Kroměříž. Others followed. A town’s logo should meet the same requirements as a private firm’s logo, i.e. it should attract attention and be easy to remember.