PLACES STRAIGHT OUT OF A FAIRYTALE IN ANDORRA
Andorra is even more beautiful when everything is covered in snow! This winter, take a trip along our fairy tale route through some of the most wonderful towns in Andorra and discover churches and monuments all covered with a thick blanket of snow. So, take note of the best towns to visit and start writing your very own story.
Once upon a time...
Canillo, with its viewpoint, Tibetan bridge and... ice palace!
Canillo isn’t just the first parish on our list, it’s also one of the biggest in the Principality. Divided into 11 veïnats, or neighbourhoods, right at the very heart of the parish is the place which has the most to offer visitors in terms of culture: the town of Canillo. Once you cross the roundabout at the entrance to the town, you'll be welcomed by incredible views offering a glimpse of the breathtaking mountains and nature you’ll find here. In the distance you'll be able to catch sight of a building that dominates all others around it – the famous Palau de Gel, an ice palace which is home to, among a whole host of other activities, an ice rink measuring a whopping 1,800 m2! Just a few metres away, in the town's old quarter, a labyrinth of streets conceals the town's best-kept secrets. And, if it's not completely covered by snow, see if you can find another symbol engraved into the floor. Next stop on the route, after a short walk, is one of the most precious gems of the entire parish: the Church of Sant Joan de Caselles. Known for the bounty of one-of-a-kind Romanesque objects it holds, it's the only church in the whole country with a bell tower built in the Lombard style. Before we bring the route to a close, there are two more must-sees that are perched high up on the mountainside: the Roc de Quer viewpoint, offering some of the best views in the country, and the longest Tibetan bridge in Europe! Don’t miss out!
Sant Romà de les Bons, one of Encamp’s best-kept secrets
In the village of Encamp, you’ll find culture, history and nature all around you! As in all the villages in this story, the story begins at the heart of the village. And that’s exactly where you’ll find the most traces and signs of the passage of time. Throughout the route, you’ll see different medieval constructions from the 16th and 17th centuries, including a water storage area excavated in the ground and two dovecotes, Rossell and Cotxa, located on either side of the other must-visit landmark: the Torre dels Moros. Also, located just next to it, a few metres away, you can also visit the chapel of Sant Romà de les Bons, the only one with a Lombard-style semicircular apse in the country. Continuing along the route, you’ll go right through the village’s historic site, where you’ll see many other buildings from the period. Finally, if you’re a fan of museums, you’ve got several options in Encamp: the Sacred Art Museum, the Casa Cristo Ethnographic Museum, or the Automobile Museum, with one of the largest collections of vehicles in southern Europe! Finally, the mountain bordes with their whitewashed roofs paint a bucolic scene that will be etched in your mind forever!
Auvinyà, a medieval village in Andorra
When you enter this marvellous village, you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time: cobbled streets, medieval buildings, handmade streetlights... in short, an idyllic spot just 5 minutes from Sant Julià de Lòria. The most striking thing about it, however, is that although this village seems to date from the Middle Ages, it’s actually a beautiful recreation of a medieval village in the 21st century! In this regard, and to make the village even more authentic, different materials and elements from Andorra were used in the buildings, giving each house its own unique style. Auvinyà is also a completely pedestrianised village, which means that you can stroll through its streets in peace and quiet. As soon as you enter, you’ll get to the old part of the village, where you’ll find the Romanesque church, as well as a group of stone houses with wooden balconies and Romanesque bridges. Once you’ve visited the village, we recommend that you continue your journey to the church of Sant Roma d’Auvinyà, a small Romanesque chapel dating from the 10th century, located in the upper part of the valley. From there, you’ll also get to take in spectacular panoramic views of the entire valley of Sant Julià de Lòria. You’ll get some amazing photos!
La Cortinada, a picturesque, postcard-perfect village
As soon as you enter the village, you’ll fall in love with its picturesque image: the snow-capped mountains, the smoke coming out of the chimneys and the peaceful life of a mountain village. Begin your tour by visiting the Cal Pal Social and Cultural Space, which dates back to 1347. It’s a manor house that has adapted to the passage of time. Next, cross the road to reach the old part of the village. Here, continue along the street, which will cross the entire village until you find yourself in front of another of its architectural gems: the Romanesque Church of Sant Martí de la Cortinada, a church that will fascinate you for its Romanesque architecture and the mural paintings preserved inside. Finally, don’t miss the Cal Pal Mill and Sawmill, two buildings dating back to the late 16th and early 17th century, whose original water-powered sawmill and stone millstone still remain intact today. If you want to explore a little bit more, you can continue on with the town of Ordino. It’s famous for being one of the most cultural towns of Andorra. You’ll find several unique museums such as the Casa Museu d’Areny Plandolit, a nobleman’s manor house of the Andorra of old, among others.
Churches, Romanesque culture and chocolate in Pal
Continuing with the story, another place where you can lose yourself in is the village of Pal. It’s in the parish of La Massana, which has the distinction of being one of the best-preserved Romanesque sites in the country! Don’t take it from us though! It’s a fact that this charming village is home to one of the Principality’s oldest churches, the Church of Sant Climent de Pal, which dates back to the 11th century and is the only one in the country with twin double windows. Thus, despite its spectacular architecture, the most fascinating part of it is actually found inside, where several Romanesque liturgical and artistic objects are kept. Finally, once you’ve walked through the streets of Pal’s old town, we recommend that you continue your outing by visiting the villages of Anyòs and Sispony. Also part of La Massana, they boast unique buildings and monuments with great cultural value, such as the Church of Sant Cristòfol d’Anyòs, and treat your taste buds to the delicious local products such as chocolate from Xocland! Finally, an idyllic natural setting, surrounded by mountains and woods, will round off your visit to this unique village in the Pyrenees.
In Santa Coloma amidst finds and technology
When you get to this village, you’ll find it striking how two such different and contrasting styles coexist and blend together so perfectly: history and modernity. And your first stop is proof of this: the Church of Santa Coloma. Located in the old town, it’s a church that’s fascinating for several reasons; but the most outstanding of these is that inside you’ll see a video mapping of the church’s paintings, which were painted in the 20th century. Get ready to see everything from the first outlines of the design to the final results of the work. But that’s not all, because across the road, the Espai Columba awaits. It’s a space that contains the famous original frescoes shown by the video mapping! Continuing your route , another must-see is the Torre dels Russos. It’s located at the end of the old town, and not only is it an example of the country’s granite architecture, it was also declared an immovable artistic and cultural heritage asset of Andorra in 2004. If you haven’t had quite enough, we recommend that you travel back in time at the Margineda archaeological site, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Pyrenees.
Other places to dream about…
If you’ve enjoyed this unique journey through the villages of the Andorran countryside, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of other places to discover in the country. We invite you to continue strolling through our towns and villages and to discover the remarkable architectural, cultural, historical and natural gems to be found in the Principality. You won’t get to see them all!
Visit our villages this Christmas and live your own fairytale!