Andorra - A thousand years of culture

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More than a thousand years of history underlie the architectural, cultural and popular heritage of Andorra. The Romanesque treasures hidden in the Principality bear witness to its origins and traditions. Here, art lives side-by-side with nature, traditional culture, and modern artistic events.

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Andorra is a synonym for Romanesque art. There are 40 churches in its valleys, as well as medieval bridges.

The most noteworthy churches are Santa Coloma (Andorra la Vella, 9th and 10th centuries), one of the oldest and one of the few with a circular bell-tower, which in this case is from the 12th century, and the church of Sant Miquel dEngolasters (Escaldes-Engordany, 12th century), which has a 17.5m belltower.

The wall paintings and baroque altarpieces of Sant Climent de Pal (11th and 12th centuries) and those of the church of Sant Martí de l Cortinada (12th century) in Ordino are also of great importance.

Other Romanesque marvels are the Crist en Majestat (12th century) and the altarpiece (16th century) of the Church of Sant Joan de Caselles (11th and 12th centuries) in Canillo. The Church of Sant Romà de les Bons (12th century) in Encamp is another Romanesque jewel.

Sant Serni de Nagol, built into a rock and with 11th century wall paintings, and the La Margineda bridge in Andorra la Vella, are also very important.

The Casa de la Vall, the Santuari de Meritxell, and the typical villages of Pal and Ordino are other sights not to be missed. The Casa de la Vall, a traditional home of the nobility, with Gothic frescoes reproducing scenes from the Passion of Christ, was built at the end of the 16th century.

This is now the seat of Parliament, having until recently housed the Courts. The Meritxell Sanctuary was rebuilt in 1976 by the architect Ricard Bofill, beside a 17th century church which was destroyed by fire.

Museums models, tobacco, vehicles and traditional houses

À Andorra also has many museums. In the Art Center of Escaldes-Engordany you can visit the museum of Romanesque Art Models, displaying 30 monuments on a reduced scale, and the Museu Viladomat, which has 250 works by the famous sculptor.

The old Reig tobacco factory in Sant Julià de Lòria houses the tobacco museum. This is an outstanding display of the Andorran tobacco tradition, explaining the most closely-guarded secrets of tobacco manufacture in the 20th century.

The Museu Nacional de lAutomòbil at Encamp is a must for all motor fans, with an extensive collection of 90 cars, 50 motorbikes and 100 bicycles from the period 1898 to 1998.

In the same town, the Museu Sacre de Sant Eulàlia has a collection of liturgical gold and silver objects. In addition, Ordino has the Museu Siadristyi de la Miniatura, the Museu Iconogràfic Sant Jordi i Cristianisme, an outstanding display of religious art, and also the Museu Postal and the Museu del Pin, located at Ansalonga (Ordino).

Finally, we recommend a visit to the old traditional houses: the Casa Cristo, dating from 1885 (Encamp), the Casa Rull at Sispony (La Massana), and the Casa dAreny-Plandolit (Ordino), which are part of the rural habitat trail.

The last two are from the 17th century and can be visited free of charge on the first Sunday of each month. The Farga Rossell forge at La Massana is also a must. On the 18th May, the Principality celebrates International Museums Day.

The land of a thousand fragrances

Discover the essences of perfumes, create one of your own or explore a thousand years of seduction and glamour at the recently-opened Museu del Perfum Fundació Júlia Bonet.

With this museum at Escaldes-Engordany, the Principality of Andorra completes its cultural offer and becomes the land of a thousand fragrances. This is a tribute to the commercial and perfume traditions of a country with a total of 109 perfumeries in just 468 km².
Recreational and cultural trails for all

The Principality of Andorra has a total of eleven routes. El camí a França (the road to France) runs from the Meritxell Sanctuary to the villages of Canillo. Entre lahir I lavui, (between yesterday and today), is a route to Encamp.

Les valls silencioses (the silent valleys) runs from Ordino to LArieja. The Racons inoblidables (unforgettable places) goes to La Massana. El cor que batega (the beating heart) is a route to Andorra la Vella and Santa Coloma. Pas a lart (the art path) runs from Sant Julià de Lòria to Aixovall, and the la font de cultura (fountain of culture) is a route from Escaldes-Engordany to Engolasters.

Some different trails look at iron, taking routes via the Farga Rossell, the path from Arans to Llorts, to the Casa Areny-Plandolit and Santa Martí de la Cortinada.

On the road from Arans to Llorts are contemporary paintings showing the iron tradition in Andorra; and in the village of Llorts itself are mines where the mineral was originally mined. On the other hand, the rural habitat itinerary includes a visit to three country homes, now converted into a museum, and also the sun and shade route and lower areas in Escaldes-Engordany.

Andorran literature and painting

Albert Salvadó (El mestre de Kheops, Els ulls dAnnibal and El punyal del sarraí), Antoni Morell (Set lletanies de mort, La neu adversa), Joan Peruga (Últim estiu a Ordino, La república invisible), and Josep Enric Dallerès, with a remarkable poetic opus, are some of the best known Andorran writers.

In the plastic arts, there are names like Àngel Calvente, Judith Gaset, Carme Mas, Sergi Mas, Carme Massana, Francisco Sánchez and Alfons Valdés.
Classical music, jazz, dance and theatre

Music plays an important role in Andorra, as can be seen by the range of events held in the Principality.

Particularly outstanding are the Escaldes-Engordany Colors de Música Festival which is held in July and the International Narciso Yepes Festival which takes place in Ordino during October. The tenor José Carreras and the International Ballet of Cristina Hoyos have appeared at this festival.

Another international event is the Andorra la Vella music and dance season, which takes place from November to May and has seen outstanding performances from, among others, pianist Evgeny Kissin and Ainhoa Arteta. In November, Escaldes-Engordany holds the Premi Principat dAndorra international piano competition.

The musical tradition of this Pyrenean country is highlighted with performances by the Orquestra Nacional de Cambra dAndorra and the Cor Nacional dels Petits Cantors dAndorra, the Principalitys best exponents of classical music.

When July comes, the districts of the Principality of Andorra hold famous events, like concerts of jazz, flamenco, Spanish pop and local modern music; the Montserrat Caballé international song competition at Sant Julià de Lòria and La Seu dUrgell, the Celtic and Country Music Festival, the Trobada de Buners bagpipe festival, folk dancing and dance exhibitions in August.

Finally, the theatre season that takes place from October to February in Andorra la Vella stands out due to its high artistic quality.

Esbarts, festivals and traditions

he Marratxa (Sant Julià de Lòria), the Ball de Santa Anna (Escaldes-Engordany), the Contrapàs (Andorra la Vella), the Ball de Tarda (Sant Julià de Lòria) and Sardana are some of the typical dances of Andorran folklore.

At Andorran festivals and other cultural events, the Esbart Santa Anna, the Esbart San Romà and the Esbart Lauredià interpret some of these typical dances and offer a spectacle that reflects the uses and customs of mountain life and in which international contemporary dance is combined.

There are many popular traditions and festivals coinciding with celebrations of a religious nature and the natural cycles of the earth.

There is the Aplec de Canòlic in May, the Roser dOrdino in July, the Diada de Meritxell, celebrating the patron saint of Andorra, on 8th September, and the Fira dAndorra la Vella in October.

There is also St Georges Day on 23rd April, the Fira de Santa Llúcia in December, the Festa de la Candelera at Canillo, Encamp carnival in February, and Caramelles, traditional Easter songs, in March.