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Armed Forces

Police Force




Las Villas



Pinar del Rio




Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Cuba on October 28, 1492, on his initial westward voyage. In honor of the daughter of Ferdinand V and Isabella I of Spain, his benefactors, Columbus named it first Juana but later Fernandina, two of several names he successively applied to the island. It eventually became known as Cuba, from its aboriginal name, Cubanascnan. The island was a Spanish colony from 1511 - 1898. After the Spanish-American War it was an independent United States Protectorate from 1902-1934. Since then it is an independent republic.




The Colony


In 1516, one year after the foundation of Havana in 1515, a coat of arms was granted to the Island as a result of a request of Don Pánfilo de Narváez to the Royal Council of Castilla. [1] It is as follows:



Arms: Per fess: 1. The Virgin Mary standing on a globe and surrounded by clouds and four seraphim in orle in chief; 2. A rider swinging a spear before a wooded mountain at the sinister, in chief the letters I, F and C.

Crown: A mural crown with five battlements

Order:  The emblem of the Order of the Fleece pending from a ribbon.

Supporters: The yoke and the bundle of arrows of the Most Catholic Kings.

Compartment: Two alligators.



In the time of the colony, when Cuba was under the Castilian crown,  the arms of the kingdom of Castilla and Leon was used. This consisted of a quarterly of Castilla and Leon, crowned with the royal crown an surrounded by the Order of the Fleece.

Amongst others this was sculptured above the entrance of the Castillo del Morro in Havana:


Photo N.N.


After the abolition of the kingdom of Castilla and Leon by Philip V (1709), these arms were replaced by the royal arms of Spain.

In the nineteenth century this was of a quarterly of Castilla, Leon, Aragon, Navarra enté en point of Granada with an escutcheon of Bourbon.



Immediately after the surrender to the USA, the Spanish heraldic symbols were replaced by the seal, the flag and the arms of the United States. These were used until 1902 when a US protectorate was established.


The Republic of Cuba


From the beginning of the nineteenth century many Cubans rebelled against the Spanish government. By 1848 Narciso López, a Venezolan soldier began to conspire with Cubans who advocated the annexation of the island to the United States. López’s conspiracy, known as the “Cuban Rose Mine, contemplated an uprising in several parts of Cuba. The scheme failed, many of the conspirators were arrested, and López fled to the United States.

There López resumed his conspiratorial activities and organized an expedition with the support of southern leaders. In 1850 he sailed from New Orleans and overwhelmed the small Spanish force and captured the town. But finding little support from the population and faced with Spanish reinforcements, López retreated and again escaped to the United States.

In 1851, López landed in Pinar del Río. He found little support and was soon defeated and captured by the Spanish army. He was publicly garroted in Havana on Sept. 1, 1851.”

It is said that López, as the provisional Chief of State of Cuba, sealed official documents and bonds issued by him between 1850 and 1851, with a coat of arms inspired by an original sketch published in 1849 in the La Verdad newspaper, directed by Miguel Teurbe Tolón in New York. This probably showed a rising sun above a strait, closed by a key (borrowed from the arms of the city of Havana).

A coat of arms for Cuba was seen by Ramón Roa (Cuban freedom fighter, *1844-†1912) in 1860 in a tobacco-shop on Broadway in New York. He states that this coat of arms was painted by Tolón. It expresses the ambition of Lopéz of the annexation of Cuba by the United States. On it the rising sun and strait motif is reduced to the chief of a shield parted per pale, the dexter half of the red and white stripes of the U.S.A. flag, the sinister half of a royal palm on the shore, its crown surrounded by the thirteen stars of the first United States.

Motto: PATRIA Y LIBERTAD (Fatherland and Liberty). [2]




On 10 October 1868, landowner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes made the Grito de Yara, the “Cry of Yara”, declaring Cuban independence and freedom for his slaves. This began the “Ten Years' War” which lasted from 1868 to 1878. The insurgent government adopted a flag on 11 April 1869. It consists of five stripes blue and white and a red triangle at the mast, charged with a white five-pointed star.

This flag, which is said to have flown for the frist time in 1850, at first was displayed together with a seal showing the strait and the key below a five pointed star radiant and with the legend: REPUBLICA DE CUBA 1869.


The same year the coat of arms appeared, apparently inspired by the design of Tolón (1820-1857) but changed by replacing the American stripes by the Cuban stripes and by leaving out the American stars. Like this:




An achievement was designed somewahat later as it is on paper money printed in the same year. It is:



Arms: Parted per pale, the first bendy sinister of five Azure and Argent; the second a landscape with a palmtree and two mountains in the distance, all proper; and on a chief under a rising sun a strait closed by a golden key, all proper.

Behind the shield was a pole with a red phrygian cap, charged with a white mullet, between four national flags.


About 1874 a new version appeared which differed in that the key was reversed, the bit of the key on the sinister and turned upwards. This version is on stamps issued in that year.


About the same time the number of flags in the achievement was augmented to six and a sun radiant was added behind the shield.




The arms of 1897


An emblem of the Republica de Cuba is on 20 centavos and 1 peso coins dated 1888-1889. It consists of a five-pointed star, charged with the cypher RC radiant, within another star and is surrounded by a garland of branches of olive. On the reverse is the national achievement consisting of a shield of the national flag, crested with a sun radiant and surrounded by stalks of sugarcane and tobacco.


Cuba Libre Coin 1888-98


This pattern was probably struck by the Junta to raise funds for independence. 


Another cipher RC was inspired by the French Republic when the capitol building was being built in the 1926-1929. [3] It consists of a fasces with phrygian cap, charged with the cypher RC and surrounded by a garland of oak


The present achievement was introduced 1898 on a silver 1 Peso coin. The legend reads: REPUBLICA DE CUBA UN PESO 900 FINO. On the reverse is the allegorical ladies ‘Head of Cuba’ and the legend PATRIA Y LIBERTAD 1898.


In this version the key is in its original position. The sun behind the shield was replaced by a fasces with phrygian cap, charged with a five-pointed star, and the flags by a garland of oak and laurel.


After the Spanish troops had left the island in December 1898, the government of Cuba was handed over to the United States on 1 January 1899. The first governor was General John R. Brooke. Unlike Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, the United States did not annex Cuba. In 1901 a Constitution was promulgated and in 1902 the United States handed over control to an independent Cuban government.


In 1906 the achievement of 1898 was adopted by Presidential decree of President Don Tomas Estrada Palma. It was published in the Gaceta Oficial of the 6th of January 1906.


Even when the status of the republic has changed several times since then, the achievement has remained the same.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay.


The national coat of arms of Cuba represents the Island in the Caribbean on which it is situated.  The chief symbolizes the position of Cuba between the two Americas and the place of Cuba as “The Key of the New World”, the link between America and Europe and North- and South America. The sun symbolizes the rising of a new nation. The five bends sinister represent the five departments of the island in the time of  Spanish supremacy. In its lower left field appears a rural landscape, symbolizing the plain and natural environment, characterizd  by the typical Cuban royal palmtree, with its central leave bud pointing up, symbolizing the strong character of the Cuban people. [4]


The arms were confirmed for the last time in 1984 by Law n° 42:







Del Escudo

ARTICULO 12 - El escudo es el símbolo de la nación que está formado por dos arcos de círculos iguales, que se cortan volviendo la concavidad el uno al otro, como una adarga ojival. Está partido hasta los dos tercios de su altura, por donde lo divide una línea horizontal. Se compone de tres espacios o cuarteles: en el superior representa un mar, a cuyos lados, derecho e izquierdo existen frente uno de otro, dos cabos o puntas terrestres entre los cuales, cerrando el estrecho que forman, se extiende de izquierda a derecha, una llave de vástago macizo con la palanca hacia abajo y a cuyo fondo, un sol naciente esparce sus rayos por todo el cielo del paisaje. En el cuartel o espacio inferior de su derecha hay cinco bandas, situadas. alternativamente, de un mismo ancho, de color azul turquí y blanco, siendo la azul la más alta e inclinadas todas de Izquierda a derecha. En el cuartel o espacio inferior de su izquierda, figura un paisaje representando un. valle, en medio del cual se alza una palma real con el botón de su hoja central en lo más alto, elevándose rectamente, teniendo al fondo en perspectiva dos montañas y ligeros celajes. El escudo está soportado por un haz de varas, cuyo extremo inferior, unido por una banda estrecha de color rojo cruzada en equis, sobresale por debajo del vértice de la ojiva. Por arriba sobresale por la parte central del jefe del escudo, encontrándose en este extremo el haz de varas unido por una banda circular estrecha de color rojo. La corona del haz de varas está cubierta por un gorro frigio de color rojo vuelto hacia la derecha, el que está sostenido por una de las varas que sobresale ligeramente. El gorro tiene en su parte central una estrella blanca de cinco puntas, una de ellas orientada hacia arriba. Sin exceder de las puntas de los extremos derecho e izquierdo de los arcos del escudo, hay dos ramas que lo orlan, una de laurel a su izquierda y otra de encina a su derecha, vueltas hacia el mismo y que se entrecruzan en el extremo inferior del escudo, detrás del haz de varas.

ARTICULO 13-El escudo puede ser usado por los órganos, organismos del Estado, o instituciones oficiales y sus representantes, tal como queda establecido en el Reglamento de esta Ley.




Del Sello de la República

ARTICULO 14 - El “Sello de la República”, se forma con el escudo situándosele en una circunferencia que lleva dentro de una orla superior el lema “República de Cuba” y en otra contrapuesta, el nombre del órgano, organismo o de la institución oficial de que se trate.

ARTICULO 15 - Con el “Sello de la República” se forma el “Gran Sello de la República”, que solamente se estampa en los documentos internacionales que autorice con su firma el Presidente del Consejo de Estado y Jefe de Gobierno, y en los demás en que así se disponga legalmente,....


The arms have been confirmed for the last time by Law no. 128, which repealed Law no. 42.


Cuba Armed Forces


In the time of Spanish rule the achievement of the Spanish Army in Cuba consisted of the crowned coat of arms of Spain with a trophy as supporters.





At the surrender of Cuba by the Spaniards in 1898 a flag was captured showing the Castilla-Leon quarterly, enté en point and  with an escutcheon of Bourbon. This was the arms of the Spanish garrison in Cuba.


Before the revolution of 1959 the achievement of the Cuban Republican Army consisted of the national arms, the garland replaced by a trophy of  cannon, rifles and sabres.

The cap badge of the army consisted of this achievement surrounded by a garland of oak and laurel








The achievement of the Cuban Republican Navy consisted of a fasces with phrygian cap and two anchors in saltire charged with  the Cuban coat of arms.


2 December 1956, marks the birth of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, the decisive protagonist of the war of national liberation that lead to the revolutionary victory of first of January 1959.


Policia Nacional







The emblem of the National Police Force consists of the republican achievement surrounded by a legend. Before WWII the legend was CUERPO DE POLICIA JURADA / VIGILANTE and about 1950 REPUBLICA DE CUBA / LEALTAD AL SERVICIO. After 1959 the legend became: POLICIA NACIONAL REVOLUCIONARIA.


The badge of the service consisted of a five-pointed star charged with this last emblem, the legend reading POLICIA NACIONAL REVOLUTIONARIA / CUBA.  The present version of this badge shows the five-pointed star charged with the fasces and arms only, surrounded by the legend.


The arms of the service consist of a blue shield with a yellow rising sun in the urpper half and a red map of Cuba per fess. In chief is the name of the service and in base the word CUBA, all in white lettering.


Provinces of Cuba




Arms: Parted per fess, the chief per pale and per chevron, the dexter Azure, the word SPES per bend sinister Argent, the sinister Azure, a sword per bend proper, in the base a rising sun proper;  in base a landscape, on the dexter a mill, in base point a plow and on the sinister a cow, seperated by two roads; and two palmtrees over all.

Supporter: A fasces with a cap of liberty gules, charged with a white mullet.

Garland: Branches of olive proper



Arms: Azure, in chief a key per fess and in base a bee, Or.

Crown: A mural crown with five towers Or.

Garland: Two branches of olive proper

Las Villas


Arms: Parted per fess, in chief a landscape showing ten trees in the distance and a plow on the forground, in the sky a mullet Or, radiant Argent; in base a landscape with hills in the distance and a mill, a river and a tree on the forground, all proper.

Supporter: A fasces with a cap of liberty gules, charged with a white mullet.

Garland: Branches of olive proper



Arms: Rising from the sea a three-towered castle Or, connected with the shore by two bridges spanning two estuaria, in the distanced trees and a mountain proper.

Crest: A mullet Argent.

Cartouche: Or.

Garland : A branch of laurel and a branch of oak proper.

Motto: PRO PATRIA in black lettering on a red ribbon.




Arms: Three mountains, in the sky a mullet radiant Argent, in base a river, all proper.

Supporters: A fasces with a cap of liberty gules, charged with a white mullet, and four Cuban national flags in saltire.

Motto: PRÆSTO PRO PATRIA in black lettering on a blue ribbon.


Pinar del Rio


Arms: A landscape, a shore in sinister base, hills in the distance, a farm an four cypresses on the foreground; and in chief the Island of Cuba washed by the sea, on the horizon the rising sun.

Supporter: A fasces with a cap of liberty gules, charged with a white mullet.

Garland: Two tobacco-plants proper


See also:





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© Hubert de Vries 2010-02-05 Updated 2011-10-07; 2020-06-23




[1] It was reported by Mercedes L. García at  www.bitacoracubana.com/mercedes/portada2.php?id=9.

[2]  cubaespanola.blogspot.com/2009/02/tres-escudo...

[3]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Capitolio

[4]  Vicente Báez, ed. La enciclopedia de Cuba.

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