THE REC SOLÀ PATH, A WALK WITH VIEWS AND AN EXCELLENT VIEWPOINT OVER THE CITY
Andorra la Vella is a shopping place in the middle of nature. In this tip we propose a walk with nice views to strengthen your legs and spirit. It tours along a semi-urban area. The path is 4,4 km long, with some intermediate accesses, so you can choose to do the full tour or just a part of it.The path is narrow and has space for only two people. It passes along a little irrigation canal, which was built in 1880 and was used to irrigate the nearby orchards. This one will accompany you throughout the entire journey. This quiet and relaxing route allows you to walk with few human encounters, hardly any sportman or walker.
Throughout the route, there are informative panels about natural and economic aspects of the valley such as the origin of its stone fields, the growth of the city and the agricultural development around it. There are benches to rest throughout the route, it is illuminated at night to be done even after sunset...if you have insomnia or you like to walk in the quiet of the night. Halfway through our indicated starting point (in case you do the whole route) there is an excellent viewpoint to delight you with the best views over Andorra la Vella city. The path begins on completely flat terrain protected by a railing. About 800 meters from the starting point, you will enjoy excellent views over the Andorran capital, from Les Escaldes to Santa Coloma.
In wintertime, could be some snow on the route, in any case, snow will almost always be present at the top of the peaks that crown the valley. We will also cross some stone screes that descend the mountain from the heights. The best thing about this tour is that we can always turn around at any time, so the views will be different when walking in the opposite direction.If you only go as far as to the viewpoint, the round trip would take you just over an hour.The route does not present any difficulty. The unevenness is only about 10 meters.
It can be done by almost everyone and at any time of the year. As we informed previously, there are many downhill paths if you are tired and wish to return.
Indications: You can start from Carrer dels Canals, next to Sant Ermengol school.
The path is above the street and runs along the hillside that goes to Spain.
LA ESCUDELLA, THE MOST TYPICAL DISH AND ITS GREAT FESTIVAL
Andorra is placed between France and Spain, thus the food is similar to French and Catalonian cooking (notably to Cerdanya and Alt Urgell regions). In this mountainous country, game dishes and those prepared with mushrooms stand out for their originality. But the Andorran dish par excellence is Escudella.Escudellais a very traditional spoon dish, considered the typical Andorran dish. Although it is a winter season dish due to its high calorie content, is possible to consume it all year round. It is also eaten at celebrations, even at Christmas.
It consists of several different seasonal vegetables such as leek, potatoes, white beans, carrot, celery or turnip, and pig slaughter products such as bacon, ball (a large meatball), black pudding, snout, leg and sausage, as well as chicken meat. Noodles, rice and chickpeas could be also added. It is an excellent way to regain strength, especially after some hours of shopping and you need to recover. Escudellais a Catalan word that means soup in English. It can be served all together on the same plate or, as in a stew, separately, first the soup and then the dry part of meats and vegetables.
There are different variants of the typical Andorran escudella such as Escudella De Pages(which means peasant), also called Escudella Barrejadaor Escudella i Carn d´Olla, all influenced by the neighboring Catalan province of Gerona.About half a century ago, on 17th of January, the feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot, the Andorra la Vella "Escudellaes Brothehood" used to prepare this popular dish. In 1970, the "Tonis", a group of friends all named Toni and residents in the busy Meritxell street, decided to join their celebrations and invite all passers-by around.
The tradition is still alive today. I wish it coincides with your visit to the city to taste it and have a good time.The ingredients are prepared the afternoon before the feast, and consist of 120 kilos of blood sausage, 80 of white sausage, 90 of bringuera(a typical Andorran sausage) and pork mask, 60 of beef and 50 of chicken, 200 of potatoes, 30 of rice and noodles, 40 of celery and leeks, 30 of carrots, 20 of beans, 65 of cabbage and 40 of pumpkin.Does anyone give more?
In the early hours on 17th January, everything begins to boil, preparing 4,500 servings accompanied by 100 kilos of bread, 140 litres of wine and 160 Saint Anthony donuts. Indications:The whole centre of Andorra la Vella offers a large number of possibilities to taste it, whether you want to formally sit down or if you just want a quick snack at a bar counter.
The huge Escudellade Sant Antoni is currently distributed in Guillemó Square, in the centre of Andorra la Vella on January the 17th.
NATURAL HONEY FROM ANDORRA MOUNTAINS AND ITS DERIVATIVES PRODUCTS: GUARANTY OF FLAVOR AND HEALTH
Andorra is a shopping paradise. During the Franco era, Spaniards dreamed to come here for shopping at lower prices due to the low or non-existent taxes. Still nowadays some products such as cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, electronics, perfumes, jewellery, skiing materials and clothes are very cheap. These can be found in the very long Meritxell street that crosses the capital. It hosts more than 2,000 varied stores, although most of the products sold are imported. Here we want to talk to you about something traditional that comes directly from the natural meadows and mountains of Andorra.
That is the products that the hard-working bees transform from the flower pollen of the Andorran mountains. That is the honey and all the other resulting products of their hard and tireless work: propolis, royal jelly and ancient liqueurs such as mead, a low-alcoholic beverage used in these mountains since immemorial times to cheer up and celebrate the festivities.Bees, these humble insects that with their products have helped human growth since the beginnings of mankind, nowadays they are seriously threatened all over the world due to pesticides used in agriculture.
But this country´s great extension of wild lands, free of any threat for them, helps their production, thus becoming a gift for human beings.Honey can be “mountain” or “high mountain”, depending on the height where the hives are located. It is always packed raw, avoiding heating procedures to preserve its natural qualities. There are many varieties, flavours, colours and properties depending on whether they are: heather, all flowers, lavender, thyme ... It is a gift for your palate and especially for your health due to its great properties.
Small local producers have trusted in these products hence they care about their environment sustainably. Most of them are small businessmen who make fair products. Although their main houses are usually outside the city, on the main commercial routes of Andorra la Vella, such as Meritxell or Carlemany, you can find these wonders that well wrapped in your suitcases would be the best souvenir or gift.Some manufacturers of natural products made from bee honey are Naturalis, Miel Andorra and Autentic.
Ask for these products at food or delicatessens stores.
NOBLESSE DU TEMPS, A SALVADOR DALÍ CLOCK IN THE MOUNTAINS
In the heart of Andorra la Vella old town, there is a very special clock worthy to take a photo with. In addition, the mountains of the principality will appear in the background, while the buildings of the historic centre of the capital surround you. It is the clock called " Noblesse du Temp" or “Nobility of Times”. The sculpture was created by the Catalan artist Salvador Dalí between 1977 and 1984. It is made of bronze and measures 4.90 metres high, 1.70 deep and 2.60 long, weighing 1,400 kilos.
The sculpture was donated in 1999 to the Andorran state by an anonymous donor. The patron was recently revealed to be Enric Sabater, resident in the Principality, the artist’s collaborator and confidant between 1968 and 1982.The artwork belonged to the Encamp community as an agreement signed in 1999, but an urban remodelling of the enclave where it was located caused the Government settled it in another place. Its new location from 2010, was decided by agreements between the Andorran Principality Government and the capital Government. Enric Sabater himself seconded that emplacement.
This sculpture is part of a series of melted clocks created by Dalí to symbolize the flow of time.The clock melts on a tree trunk. Above it, there is a crown which for the artist signified the dominance of time over humanity. Behind it, there is a woman on the left and an angel on the right.This figure is part of a series created by the artist. In this series highlights the one placed in the Chinese city of Shanghai, on Nanking Avenue. There are some others with the same design, named under the English title " Nobility of Time" and placed in public places in London and Switzerland.
Given the large number of forgeries that have been carried out of the artist´s works, its authenticity is only officially proven if it comes from a series produced with the artist’s express consent.We can assure you that the photo taken there will be very, very special, with a very picturesque artwork made by one of the best Spanish artists of the XX century.
It is located in the Rotonda Square in Andorra la Vella, right in the historic heart of the city, next to Avenida Meritxell and La Valira.
LACRUZ HOUSE. GRANITE ARCHITECTURE
Granite Architecture takes place in Andorra during the XX century after the construction of its roads, the electrification of the country and the arrival of many young masons from abroad, joined to the contribution of many architectswho will change the traditional style. It is closely related to the construction of spas, but also to private houses. This architecture style is fully integrated into the natural environment by using local stones on its facades producing an innovative change compared to the previous style. Large spas and hotels were built, such as the Hostal Valira, Carlemany and the Hotel Rosaleda.
Some of the outstanding houses from this period are the Casa dels Russos by the architect César Martineli, Salvador Dali´s disciple, the Ramio dam and guard house, the Xurrina house, the Vidal house and the Lacruz house, which we are going to talk about.Casa Lacruz was built between 1940 and 1941 by the Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, a prominent Modern Style architect from the Catalan Noucentisme.
He built some impressive works in Barcelona such as the Casa Amatller and the Casa Terradas, as well as the Hostal Valira also in Andorra. This architect, thinker, historian professor and politician planned Casa Lacruz during his exile time, between the beginning of the Spanish war in 1936 and 1942. This building synthesizes the forms of his historical trajectory by using local materials. The main material used was granite stone, arranged in the walls in the shape of a square, a rectangle, a diamond or a honeycomb.
The layout is inspired by the observation and study of local buildings in Escaldes. There are balconies, windows, skylights and tribunes that give this house a very personal uniqueness. On the 25th of February of 2004, an edict declared this house Cultural Heritage of Andorra.Today it is a residential and commercial building.
It is located on Carlemany commercial avenue numbers 61-63 in Escaldes-Engordany which is a commercial street continuation of the very busy Meritxell street.
On foot from Andorra historic centre (for example from the Casa de la Val) it takes you about 24 minutes to get there: pass through Plaça Benlloch, Plaça Rebés and then take Meritxell avenue where you can also do your shopping. It is about a 1,900 metres walk. By taxi, it takes 6 minutes.
BE A DETECTIVE SEEKING AND RECOGNIZING THE COMMEMORATIVE COINS OF THE PRINCIPALITY
Andorra has its own coins, as do the other eurozone countries. The most widedspread is the one with the coat of arms of the Pyrenean nation, but some commemorative ones are still in circulation, although they are difficult to find. We propose you a very special challenge: to look for them in your purchase changes around the country.
It will be often so difficult that you will have to go to numismatic stores where they are more expensive due to their exclusivity and little production.The main ones are:
20 Years in the Council of Europe
25 Years of Customs Union with the EU
30 Years since 18 became Legal Age
25th anniversary Andorran Radio and TelevisionAndorra, The Pyrenean country
25th anniversary of the Constitution of Andorra
70th anniversary of Human Rights Declaration
Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals.
600 years of the Consell de la Terra.
XXVII Ibero-American Summit of Andorra
50th anniversary of Universal Women’s Suffrage
150th anniversary of the New Reform in 1866
100 Years of the Andorran Hymn.
All these coins have had a range production from 60,000 pieces to 100,000 of that one of the 20th Anniversary of Andorra in the Council of Europe.
They are coins issued from 2014 to 2020.
Dare to seek them and recognize them while you are in this country. Hopefully, you will find them in your different purchases, but in case you are very interested in seeing or buying them, here we provide some addresses of numismatic stores. Some coins can cost much more than the value marked on them.Finding and recognizing them is challenging and fun. I
Some addresses to see or buy them in case you are not lucky in your street seeking are:
Filatelia Andorrana is at Carrer Major 23 in Andorra la Vella.La Paperassa, at Carrer Isabelle Sandy in Escaldes-Engordany.
The Numismatics and Filatelia López, in the centre of Andorra la Vella as well.
Numismatic Borrás, Gaudí Numismatic Philately and Euro Andorra are online shopping stores.
SANTA COLOMA CHURCH AND THE STORY OF THE LOOTING OF ITS PAINTINGS
On the right bank of the Valira river, in the parish of Andorra la Vella is this beautiful rural church, one of the oldest and most beautiful in the principality. It was built as a pre-Romanesque church during the VIII and IX centuries. It is named in the acts of consecration of the Cathedral of La Seo de Urgel (Lleida). From those times, it keeps the only rectangular nave and the quadrangular apse. In the XII century, during Romanesque times, it was refurbished by adding the tall circular Lombard-style four-storey high bell tower, unique in Andorra.
Also at that time, a group of nomad painters decorated the apse with a series of fresco paintings. The authorship has been assigned to the Master of Santa Coloma, although due to the variety in the quality of the paintings, we know that several different hands were involved. This pictorial set withstood the passage of time but not human greed. In 1933, a time of great international interest in Romanesque art, the church was stripped of these wonders.
They were sold by the church rector to pay for the repairs of the temple. They were ripped from the walls and sold to an antiquarian in Barcelona who would resell most of them to a Jewish origin German aristocrat, Baron Van Cassel. World War II broke out and the frescoes passed to the Third Reich. After the war, they were sent to the Collecting Point in Munich. In 1969 they were moved to the Prussian State Museum of Culture in Berlin where they were kept without being exhibited. The whole set went to Frankfurt where it was restored. In 2007 Andorra Government bought these frescoes, already in poor condition, to put them back in their original place. Two different exhibitions to show them were held: "A long and deep journey" in 2008 and "Welcome to your home" in 2014.
Fortunately, now, the "Espai Columba" has been created near the church, where the original paintings are exposed with some other religious objects from other Andorran churches. Into the church, you can enjoy the paintings thanks to video mapping. This virtual recreation, accompanied by light and sound, projects the murals onto their respective locations with total accuracy. Six projectors will immerse us for six minutes in the reality of the XII century.
The church can be visited together with the "Espai Columba" in groups of a maximum of 10 people.
Itinerary 2 of the Andorra tourist bus takes us there.
The entrance costs 7 euros, 3,50 for foreign students and over 65’s. Free admission for disabled people. Guided tours are available under reservation for 1,50 € extra. An audio guide is provided to independent visitors.
Av. Verge del Remei 19, Andorra la Vella.
Telephone: (+376) 821 234/839 760.Opening hours change depending on the season. Closed on Sunday afternoons and Mondays.
More information: Andorra Tourist Office.
DISCOVERING ANDORRA’S GEOLOGICAL HISTORY. OPEN GEOLOGY MUSEUM. ITINERARY THROUGH THE ROCK GARDEN
Andorra has the Open Museum of Geology "Rocks on the street", "Roques al Carrer", a very particular museum made up of rocks and fossils from the Principality mountains, always complemented by excellent information panels. Urban environment reminds us that everything comes from the nature that surrounds us. It is no need to move to distant places to learn many things.
This museum raised to show the world geodiversity and more specifically the geological heritage of the principality, with examples and clear explanations.It is divided into three easy-to-navigate and easily accessible parts:Rock Garden, Geological Itinerary and Granite Architecture Itinerary. As the full visit could take a long time, we will focus on the Rock Garden for its ease. The Rock Garden is placed in the city’s largest park, Parc Central.
The most widespread rocks in this country are exposed along a well-indicated route. There are indicative panels that explain the most significant and the different uses of the rock from ancient times.The Rock Garden shows us rocks of the three existing types: igneous or magmatic, sedimentary and metamorphic. During that pleasant walk, you can see and study Travertine, Phyllite, Granodiorite, Gneiss, Quartzite, Conglomerate, Slate, Shale, volcanic Tuff, Quartzite and Limestone (where the most fossils are found).
This pleasant walk surrounded by the nature of the park and the mountains which these stones come from is relaxing and interesting thanks to the information panels where we are told about rocks in general, their origin and formation, emphasizing the Andorran rocks and their use along with the history until the present times. Each rock has its own physical characteristics of hardness, colour, weight, etc., which determine its utility.This itinerary also shows us that rocks, despite apparently inert, are alive and continue to form mountains and transform into other rocks continuously.
Andorra is in the Pyrenean geological nucleus where the oldest rocks can be found.
The itinerary begins at the entrance to the Central Park of Andorra La Vella.
Bus lines L1 and L4. The closest stop, just 88 metres away, is Els Marginets. L´Orri i Ambaixada d´Espanya about 200 metres away.
POBLÉ SQUARE: REST AND FAMILY ATMOSPHERE WITH VIEWS
When traveling, we want to make the most of our time because we never know if we could return to these wonderful places that we are visiting. The world is so big ... That is why, from time to time it is necessary to make a little break to recharge our batteries taking a cup of coffee, sitting quietly and watching life go by. That is much better with a beautiful landscape in the background. Here we suggest go to a quiet place within the commercial bustle of this Pyrenean capital: Poblé Square. It is a clean and well-cared place.
It is a quiet area where you can take a break as there are many benches to sit on, there is also a bar in case you need to recharge your batteries. Above all, there are excellent views of the mountains as well as green areas. In addition, if you are travelling with kids, this is the perfect place to take a break as there are large outdoor playgrounds for children and basketball courts. Sometimes the kids need to stretch after some days of bus journey. Moreover, from the square you can easily access places such as the Andorra la Vella Congress Centre, the Andorran Music Institute, the Casa Pairal and other cultural places. Also nearby is the wide Central Park designed by architect Daniel Fontova.
This is the largest green space in the city with 33,000 square metres. A good option in case you took a liking to walk through natural spaces instead of continuing shopping or visiting monuments.It is an ideal spot to hold celebrations and meetings. Many Andorran people go there on their days off or to celebrate family events. Let´s be impressed by the people from multiple cultures.Since it is an open space with thin and clean mountain air, you may be cold in winter or hot in summer, so bundle up or cool off depending on the season.
The good thing is that there is a restaurant in the lower part where you can shelter from the weather conditions and drink or eat whatever you want.Since 2010 there is an iron sculpture entitled "Tribute to the Immigrant", that represents a character carrying a suitcase. That refers to both: foreigners welcomed by the country and emigrating Andorrans. Its author is the Galician Antonio Tenreiro. The artwork was donated by the Casa de Galicia Cultural Association. This sculpture reminds us that the history of Andorra has always been linked to its two great neighbors: France and Spain and the population movement among the 3 countries.
The large Poblé square is located in the city centre, over a government administrative building and the large Prat de la Creu car park. Access could be from San Esteban church or by a lift that goes up from Prat de la Creu street which belongs to the government building.
Bus lines L1, L2, L4, and L6 pass close by.
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