Capital of the Principality of Andorra
Stage town for the 5th time
Population: 19,400 (Andorrans, Andorrans)
Specialities: escudella (pot au feu), trinxat (cabbage, potatoes and bacon), mountain meats, Andorran-style river trout, cold meats, cheeses, wines and craft beers.
Personalities: Albert Salvado (writer), Albert Llovera (rally driver), Vicky Jimenez (tennis), Mònica Dòria (kayaking).
Sport: more than 80 sports clubs and associations throughout the country. Indoor Trial World Cup. Home to many cycling champions, including Julian Alaphilippe, Dan Martin, Simon Yates. Olympic bid in 2010.
Culture: Festa Major (August), Falles de Sant Joan, Temporada de Música i Dansa (music and dance festival), Andorra la Vella Multi-sectoral Fair, Poblet de Nadal (Christmas Village)
Economy: tourism, banking, commerce
Websites and social networks: www.turismeandorralavella.com/fr/ / www.visitandorra.com
ANDORRA LA VELLA, A HISTORY
Sant Joan festival
The capital of the Principality has a well-known commercial tradition, but also a cultural wealth that cannot be ignored. The Falles, the summer solstice fire festival, is a tradition celebrated in many parts of the Pyrenees. Since December 2015, these festivities have been included in Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Originally, the falla was a large boxwood trunk around which birch bark was wrapped and which the young people of each region, the fallaires, lit and waved around the bonfire. They could also carry these lit torches down from the nearby mountains to the centre of the village, where the bonfire was set up. Once lit, the falles were waved and swirled around until they formed large circles of fire of almost hypnotic plasticity and beauty.
In 1987, a group of young people from Andorra la Vella revived this ancestral tradition that had been abandoned in the middle of the last century. Today, the falles are set ablaze on the eve of Midsummer's Day, 23 June, in Andorra la Vella.
ANDORRA LA VIELLA AND CYCLING
A good part of the peloton will be back home after this stage and for the rest day in Andorra. Julian Alaphilippe, Egan Bernal, Dan Martin, the Yates brothers and many others have settled in the Principality, which is gradually replacing Monaco in the hearts of professional riders, both for its tax status and for the immediate proximity of the summits. It was also in Andorra la Vella, where he lived, that Nicolas Portal, the sports director of the Inéos team, died in 2019.
Due to its privileged position, the Principality and its capital have hosted many cycling events, such as the Tour of Catalonia, la Semana Catalana, but also two of the three Grand Tours, the Tour de France and the Vuelta, because of their border location. In 1964, Julio Jimenez, the future three-time king of the mountains of the race, inaugurated the Andorran prize list of the Grand Boucle. Since then, Andorra la Vella has mainly served as a launching pad for stages that ended on the flat, the last time being in 2009, when Luis Leon Sanchez won in Saint-Girons. The Tour's most recent visit to the principality was in 2016, when Tom Dumoulin won in Arcalis before a rest day in the capital.
The Vuelta also visited the Andorran capital regularly between 1965 and 2015, when Mikel Landa won there ahead of Fabio Aru.
Casa de la Vall
The Casa de la Vall is one of the Principality's most characteristic monuments. Built in 1580, it was the headquarters of the General Council of Andorra. Today, located in the heart of the historic centre of the capital, it is a perfect example of the beauty of the traditional buildings of Andorra la Vella.
The various modifications that have been made over time, especially in the second half of the last century, have only enhanced the internal and external beauty of one of Andorra's most representative buildings. The architecture of the Casa de la Vall is mixed, as it incorporates defensive elements in a building intended for civil use: the ridge of the façade, the machicolation on the portal, and the leaning tower with machicolations and loopholes in the upper part. The gateway is made of ashlar with a semicircular arch; on its right-hand side can be seen the old coat of arms of Andorra, and above it the polychrome stone coat of arms of 1763 and on the keystone of the arch the coat of arms of the Busquets family and the date of construction.
Chapel of Sant Andreu
Located on carrer Sant Andreu, the chapel of the same name has a rectangular floor plan, with a semicircular apse and a single-bay bell tower. Although it is difficult to date it, given the modifications it has undergone, some elements allow it to be originally included in the Romanesque period: the east-west orientation, the semicircular arched doorway on the south wall, the structure of the apse wall and part of the nave. Another element that confirms that it belongs to the Romanesque period is the reliquary from this chapel, which is kept in the Episcopal Museum of Vic and dates from the 12th century.
Cultural tour of the capital of Andorra
This walk through the historic centre of the Andorran capital leads to the discovery of its history, traditions, art (paintings, sculptures) and culture and immerses the visitor in the prestigious past of Andorra la Vella for a striking and memorable journey. The night tours organised during the summer are definitely worth a visit: they take the form of dramatised performances. The guide is none other than Don Francisco de Zamora, a judge of the Royal Court of Barcelona at the end of the 18th century...
Church of Santa Coloma
This is one of the jewels of Andorran Romanesque art and one of the oldest temples in the Principality. The pre-Romanesque nave and its circular bell tower, characteristic of the 12th century, form a complex of rare perfection.
Nowadays, technology makes it possible to see the original location of the paintings, through the video mapping of the Espai Columba Museum.
The church already appears on the consecration act of Urgell Cathedral. The pre-Romanesque temple has undergone various modifications over time, including the construction of the Lombard-style bell tower and the reform of the entrance door in the 12th century, as well as the construction of a porch in front of the south wall and the installation of a Baroque altarpiece in later periods.
Opened on 21 March 2019, the museum houses the paintings and establishes a dialogue with the church of Santa Coloma, located a hundred metres from the museum.
The Romanesque paintings of Santa Coloma, a 12th-century pictorial ensemble that is the most representative example of Andorran Romanesque art, were returned by Germany in 2007. These paintings reveal a representation of a pantocrator, originally placed in the central apse of the church of Santa Coloma, an apostolic college composed of six disciples, two friezes and an annunciation.
The Roc del Solà path
Together with the Rec de l'Obac, the Rec del Solà path is a first choice for a successful hike in Andorra. Easy to access and with no physical difficulties (almost no positive or negative changes in altitude), it can be followed by all members of the family. Located in the parish of Escaldes-Engordany, this route offers a high view that allows hikers to admire the whole of Andorra la Vella, as well as the magnificent panorama of the surrounding mountains.
Jorge Lorenzo Museum
Opened just off Avenida Meritxelle in Andorra la Vella, the museum houses many attractions including MotoGP and Formula 1 simulators. Above all, it houses an incredible collection of rare items, suits and helmets that belonged to motorbike and grand prix riders, all collected by Jorge Lorenzo himself. On display are rare pieces worn by riders such as Valentino Rossi, Marc Márquez, Casey Stoner, Barry Sheene, Alex Criville, Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz and Mick Doohan. Also on display are numerous suits, helmets and personal effects of F1 racing drivers such as Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Jim Clark, Gilles Villeneuve, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Phil Hilll, all in over 400m2.
This is undoubtedly one of the flagship dishes of Pyrenean cuisine. In Andorra, as well as in Alt Urgell and Cerdanya, it is very popular and occupies a prominent place on the menus of the great restaurants. Heir to the popular gastronomic tradition, its recipe is a fine example of the cuisine of leftovers and proximity, always with quality products (green cabbage, potatoes, garlic, bacon...). The base does not vary much, if at all, among the different recipes of the regions where this typical dish is found. A local touch or the interpretation of the chef in the kitchen can sometimes lead to a slight variation. Trinxat is proof that a dish that is easy to prepare, with simple ingredients, can be a quality gastronomic reference. As a good winter mountain dish, it also provides the necessary calories to fight against the cold.
In Andorra, "lo trinxat" can be found on the menus of the bordes, which often offer the traditional cuisine of the country.