STEP BY STEP THROUGH THE CULTURE AND HISTORY OF ESCALDES-ENGORDANY
Location and contact
Established in 1978 after the urban areas of Escaldes and Engordany were joined together, Escaldes-Engordany is the seventh, and therefore most recent, parish created in Andorra. It has one of the smallest areas in the Principality and a population of around 14,000.
With this itinerary, you’ll not only discover a place full of secrets and curiosities, you’ll also get to see some of the sculptures, buildings and architecture that have marked Andorra’s development.
Artalroc, one of Andorra’s most modern cultural centres
To get this itinerary under way, start in front of one of the buildings with the biggest contrast between traditional and contemporary architecture: Artalroc, a cultural centre that will wow you not only for its avant-garde design with straight, modern lines, but also for its structure that’s fully clad in amorphous ceramic material such as glass.
The Engordany Trail: a labyrinth of streets and houses
After the first more contemporary stop, go back in time to 20th-century Andorra. Here, you’ll follow the Engordany Trail, a route that runs through a labyrinth of cobbled streets and stone houses, witnesses to the agricultural life of years gone by. On the route, you’ll walk along the furrier trail that will take you to the site of the old Church of Sant Jaume, which collapsed in the 1950s, as you take in the crops and livestock that you’ll be passing throughout the itinerary. You’ll also be able to see the famous Engordany bridge that connected this town to the old centre of Escaldes, as well as several examples of traditional architecture illustrated by houses such as Cal Rafel, Cal Ricart and Cal Vicari.
Religion, art and culture in the heart of Escaldes-Engordany
Next, continue going down along this road until you reach the old Hotel Valira, a listed property that’s been protected by the Principality. Here, you can discover one of Andorra’s first hotel and thermal establishments dating back to the 1930s, and you’ll also be able to see one of the best examples of granite architecture in the country! The experience doesn’t stop there, however, becoming even richer as you go on. The building is now home to the modern Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra, a museum featuring an exhibition space measuring over 250 m2. The majority of the works on display at the museum are 19th- and 20th-century paintings, a real treat for art lovers.
The route will then continue in front of you, as you’ll just have to cross the street to enjoy the next point of interest on the itinerary: the Church of Sant Pere Màrtir, a chapel designed by the architect Josep Danés in honour of the wool carders, given the importance of the textile industry in the Andorra of years gone by. Interestingly, the tower has three bells that were christened with three women’s names in 1981 by Joan Martí, Bishop of Urgell and co-Prince of Andorra. Why not check it out?
Finally, just a few metres away, you’ll find another must-visit attraction: the Escaldes-Engordany Art Centre (CAEE). This building, built between 1932 and 1934 as a car park for Hotel Valira, has had several incarnations over the years, including serving as the old school for the parish and the country’s first cinema. In terms of its architecture, it’s also a wonderful example of the local granite construction. Today, the centre has become a cultural space where you can enjoy two permanent collections – the sculptures of Josep Viladomat and models of Romanesque art – as well as other temporary exhibitions. The centre also offers cultural programming for all ages.
Passeig de l’Arnaldeta de Caboet
After discovering all these cultural centres, we recommend continuing your itinerary by following the Passeig de l’Arnaldeta de Caboet, a fully pedestrianised footpath that crosses the town centre from one side to the other, where you’ll also find the sculpture and story of Arnaldeta. To give you a hint, all we’ll say for now is that she was the first heiress of the valleys of Andorra! Are you going to miss out on the rest of her story?
Discovering the world of perfume
Having reached this point, the last stop on this itinerary is a tour of the perfume museum. Owned by the Júlia Bonet Foundation, here you can enjoy a permanent exhibition with over 39,000 fragrances. You’ll be captivated as you discover the history and development of the exotic world of perfume in Andorra. And to top it all off, you can even make your own fully personalised essence!
What are you waiting for? Come for a walk through Escaldes-Engordany, a parish where culture and history go hand in hand!
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