Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella means Andorra the Old. It is the capital of the mini-state Andorra which most know as the duty-free shopping paradise. The city is beautifully situated in a phenomenal setting in a bowl-shaped valley, surrounded by the Pyrenees.
Andorra la Vella PanoramaPhoto: Tiia Montana CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
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Andorra is located in the Eastern Pyrenees between France and Spain. The country's capital is beautifully situated between mountains. Andorra la Vella is with an area of 12 km² not very big for a European capital. But when you consider that the entire area of Andorra is only 468 km², it is a considerable city. Andorra la Vella consists of two parts. A new part with many shops where you can shop tax-free and an older part on the Gran Valira river.
Andorra has a relatively humid continental climate. That means cool summers with an average temperature of 18 degrees Celsius and much colder winters with lots of snow. In winter, the average temperature is 4 degrees Celsius. Precipitation falls all year round and that amounts to between 100 and 200 millimeters of rain per month.
It is believed that Andorra la Vella has been inhabited since the beginning of the Christian era. The first tribe to settle here were the Andosin. In the 8th century, the city was one of the Marca Hispanica (the Spanish Marches), a buffer zone founded by Charlemagne to protect against the Moors.
Andorra Església de Sant Joan de Caselles from the 11th centuryPhoto: MARIA ROSA FERRE CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
Andorra la Vella has been the capital of Andorra since 1278. That was the year in which the French and the episcopal power agreed to a joint sovereignty. In the old part of Andorra la Vella, the Barri Antic, you can still find buildings from this time. In the 18th century Andorra was a secluded feudal state, so the history of the city has almost nothing to do with that of other European countries.
In the twentieth century, Andorra la Vella and the surrounding area were not of great importance, mainly because the state did not participate in the Treaty of Versailles. In 1930, democratic executive, legislative and judicial powers were established in Andorra la Vella following a coup d'état by King Boris I.
In 1933, Andorra was occupied by France because of major social unrest in the country about elections that were to take place. In 1940, the French protected Andorra and its capital from Franco's troops. Thus the Spanish Civil War passed Andorra. Andorra also remained out of action during the Second World War. A striking fact is that Andorra did not officially make peace with Germany until 1958. The country was still legally at war with Germany since World War I because Andorra did not participate in the Treaty of Versailles.
The old scenic center of Andorra, Barri Antic is worth a visit. You will find many old stone streets and authentic houses. The icing on the cake is the historic parliament building Casa de la Vall which means home of the valley. The building dates from 1580 and was initially the home of a prominent family. From 1702 the parliament of Andorra is housed in the building. The building includes a courtroom and the Sala del Consell is widely regarded as the cosiest parliament chamber in the world.
Andorra la Vella Casa de la VallPhoto: Enfo CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Another interesting sight is the Pont de la Margineda, built to cross the Valira. It is a Romanesque stone bridge. With a length of 33 meters and a height of 9.20 meters, this is the largest bridge in Andorra. Next to the bridge is a work of art by the Valencian artist Andreu Alfaro in memory of the First International Congress of the Catalan language (1906).
Andorra la Vella Pont de la MarginedaPhoto:Jaume Menese CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
Winter sports AndorraPhoto: Christof Damian CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
Winter sports enthusiasts will soon fall in love with Andorra la Vella, because you can be on the slopes from the Andorran capital in no time. Nice to alternate with a day in the city. The Grandvalira ski area has a total of 193 kilometers of slopes. By taking the bus and then the gondola, the area can be reached within 15 minutes from Andorra la Vella.