Andorra la Vella

Andorra la Vella Andorra la Vella is the capital of the Principality of Andorra as well as being the most important population center in the valleys of this small country.

It is the fifth of Parishes of Andorra and lies in the shelter of Enclar mountain range. It is located in the midst of a beautiful and fertile valley with the Pic de Can Ramonet rising opposite the city.

The word Vella meant in earlier times city and derived from the word vela. Therefore Andorra la Vella means Andorra the city and not The Old Andorra as has been (wrongly) maintened by some. The word Vella is tagged on to the name of the capital simply to distinguish it from the word Andorra as applied to the country as whole.

Andorra la Vella still conserves no few vestiges of the middle Ages; which make for a picturesque contrast with the modernity of its diverse commercial establishments.

The capital of Andorra is Europe’s highest and stands 1.029 m above sea level. From this strategic vantage point there are views of attractive landscape of the broad plain lying below, watered by the river Valira and near the confluence of Andorra’s three most important rivers.

The personality of Andorra la Vella as a city, as well as its human personality, has been the gradual result of several centuries of indépendance. The vagaries of history, together with the cosmopolitan nature which characterises the life of capital, have left their indelible marks on the physical appearance of the capital.

The Avinguda de Meritxell is the main artery of Andorra and is characterized by its great commercial vitality. All along this avenue all kind of establishments follow on one from another, pell-mell, windows bursting with good coming various country-ranging from cameras to Havana cigars, as well as electronic and optical equipment, tv set and the like-top-class boutiques where the most exclusive outfits may be found, restaurants, bars and hotels. The Meritxell avenue is a constant enticement to the tourist, and before the visitor’s eyes ther appears everything to whet the appetite and induce one to buy. The activity in this andorran artery does not ease off at any time. Its pavements are always full of people gazing at shop windows or taking a slow stroll. The idea of being in a hurry is not a feature of the Meritxell avenue.

In the quarter of el Pui are to be found the majority of the most important organisms and institutions of the Principality of Andorra. The beautiful square of Bisbe Benlloch is extremely attractive. But the truth of the matter is that entire city is in itself an enticingly attractive place with its charming backwaters, its typical quaint squares and streets, and the chance to see from any part of the city the impressive majesty of the mountains, the paradisiacal verdure of the valley in which Andorra la Vella rests, or the never-ending murmur of the waters of passing river.

Truth to tell, the entire capital of the Principality is in itself one great monument. Nevertheless, there are some monuments which deserve special, detailed mention on account of their historical and artistic importance and also because of their significance in the life of the city. Among these monuments is that know as the Casa de Vall, situated at the end of a street which leads of from the square of Bisbe Benlloch. The Casa de Vall is an old mansion which was in private hands until the year 1580 when it came to belong to the country General of the Valleys. The building has the appearance of an old fortress. The Casa de Vall has been restored, but still conserves its medival architectural outlines. Inside it the most interesting features are the Hall of Council General, the museum and the typical kitchen.

Another interesting monument is the Chapel of Sant Ermengol, which communicates with the council hall. Also of some interest is the church of Sant Esteve.

To see in Andorra le Vella

Exhibition Hall of the Governement of Andorra

Exhibition Hall of the Governement of Andorra This space, which is devoted to art exhibitions features international artists who represent several different movements, such as Adami, Alechinsky, Brossa, Hopper, Chagall, Dietman, Di Rosa, Gordillo, Gorky, Oppenheim, Tabuchi, Tàpies, Vasarely, Vieira da Silva, amongst others. In the exhibition halls, guided tours are organised in order to explain, in a comprehensive manner, various exhibits and aspects of art to the general public.

The work of the different artists is addressed individually in order to provide a deeper understanding of the artist, the creative process and these times’ most representative artistic movements.

Casa de la Vall

In 1419 an inter-parish organisation was ratified which was to be the embryo of the Council of the Land, later called the General Council of the Valleys of Andorra. Casa de la Vall is the seat of this body which is the national parliament. It is a building distinguished by its historical connotations.

The building was constructed in 1580 according to the date on the keystone at the entrance. It belonged to the Busquets family and was purchased by the General Council in 1702. The building has a square ground plan and the interior is divided up by three master walls as is typical in Catalan patrician country houses. Social instability at the end of the 16th century and questions of social distinction explain the presence of various defensive elements (cannon hole, tower and battlements).

The house underwent in depth restoration in 1962, during which the plaster on the outer walls was removed and a second cannon hole was constructed in symmetry to the original one. The present Andorran coat of arms is on the main fayade above the entrance to the building where it was placed in 1763. To one side there is the old coat of arms which post dates the 14th century.

In the gardens there is a dove cot, a baptismal font from the church of Sant Julià de Lòria and a boundary cross from La Massana. Several commemorative sculptures are also to be seen such as the one by Josep Viladomat dedicated to the New Reform of 1866, the one by the Italian sculptor Luigi Terruggi commemorating the 700th anniversary of the signing of the first Pariatge and the most recent one which is by Emili Armengol and bears witness to the proclamation of the Constitution in 1993.

Sant Esteve

Part of this building is in fact what used to constitute the Roman temple.

The rest of the work is the result of various modifications and expansions, mainly carried out during the 20th century.

In 1940, the modernist architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch carried out refurbishment work on the bell tower and the current lateral entrance. On the inside, one can see a beam located on the front of a 12th century hanging canopy, as well as two altarpieces: one which dates to the 17th century and is dedicated to Saint Lucy, while the other is from the 18th century and dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

Robot in Suspension - Paul van Hoeydonk

Robot in Suspension - Paul van HoeydonkOne of the works of Belgian Paul van Hoeydonk - Fallen Astronaut - travelled on Apollo 15 and was left on the moon’s surface. Closer to home, in Andorra, in an urban environment, just a step away from the seat of Government, inside the Prada Casadet building, the artist represents an impressive robot with bronze parts, like scrap machinery, looming above our insignificant heads.

Where to sleep in Andorra la Vella

Hotel Andorra Palace
            Hotel Andorra Park
            Hotel Arthotel
            Hotel Carlton Plaza
            Hotel Cassany
            Hotel Crowne Plaza Andorra
            Hotel Cérvol
            Hotel De l'Isard
            Hotel Diplomàtic
            Hotel Florida
            Hotel Husa Centric
            Hotel Mercure
            Hotel Màgic Andorra
            Hotel Novotel
            Hotel Pitiusa
            Hotel Plaza Andorra
            Hotel President
            Hotel Salvia
            Hotel Sant Jordi
            Hotel Tivoli

Andorra la Vella on Flickr