Meritxell ( Canillo )

With its tradition, style and magnificent setting, the Sanctuary of Meritxell in Andorra is well worth a visit. Find out more details here!

The Sanctuary of Meritxell Basilica is the most important religious temple in Andorra. But as well as its spiritual importance, this place of worship in the parish of Canillo offers other reasons for a visit, in particular its art and natural surroundings. The festival of Nostra Senyora de Meritxell, the patron saint of the Valleys of Andorra, is held on 8th September - the feast day of the ‘marededéus trobades’ (found statues of Our Lady) in Catalonia.

A deeply symbolic place

The Meritxell religious site in Andorra is a highly symbolic place for the inhabitants of the Principality. Indeed, it houses the image of Our Lady of Meritxell, the country's patron saint. This is a polychrome statue based on the original Romanesque work, which was destroyed in a fire in 1972. The Basilica is also home to statues of other Andorran saints, the patrons of the country's other parishes: Sant Serni de Canillo, Santa Eulalia de Encamp, Sant Corneli de Ordino, Sant Iscle de La Massana, Sant Esteve de Andorra la Vella, Sant Pere Màrtir de Escaldes-Engordany, y Sant Julià y Sant Germà de Sant Julià  de Sant Julià de Lòria. All the works are from the Andorran sculptor Sergi Mas.

This importance meant the temple was granted the title of minor basilica by Pope Francis in 2014, making it the only such place of worship in the Principality. Since then, Meritxell has been included in the so-called Marian Route, which connects four other important sanctuaries in Spain and France: El Pilar, Montserrat, Torreciudad and Lourdes. For this reason, the temple has become a centre for attracting visitors motivated by faith and spirituality.

A modern construction full of personality

As already mentioned, the Sanctuary of Meritxell suffered a terrible fire on September 8th of 1972. As well as destroying the statue and other objects of value inside, the sanctuary itself was almost completely ruined. Almost nothing remains of the original temple, but visitors can now admire one of the most interesting works by the renowned Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill. The result is, in his words, “a recreation of the Romanesque” style, which was present in the original church and which left a significant mark on the Principality.