Emblematic buildings and constructions
Andorra is much more than nature and sports. Its streets offer endless visual and cultural stimuli through the monuments, sculptures and buildings they house. You will find all kinds of works and structures made by great architects and artists from both the country and abroad. Here are some of the most significant monuments and places of interest in the country.
Casa de la Vall is a building full of history. Formerly, it was the main headquarters of the General Council of Andorra. It was the most important meeting place on the country's political level and has lived great moments, such as the presidency of new positions or sessions of national emergency. But this is not all, the presence and importance of this building comes from far behind. Its creation comes from the year 1580, and during that time, the building served as a defense tower of the Busquets family. It was in 1702 when it was acquired by the General Council. Today you can take guided tours that last around 30 minutes.
Meritxell's Sanctuary is the most symbolic one of the entire Principality. It is located between the parishes of Encamp and Canillo and is known as one of the most renowned architectural works in the country. This monastery is the only one in Andorra that has been listed as a minor basilica, a title granted by Pope Francis in 2014. This recognition makes Meritxell part of the well-known Mariana Route, where there are four more sanctuaries, including the Pilar's one, the Montserrat's one, the Torreciudad's one and the Lourdes's one.
An anecdote is that in 1972 the original Meritxell's sanctuary (located just behind the modern sanctuary) caught fire. This left the sanctuary shattered and unusable. Over the years, it could be rebuilt. Despite that, it was decided to build a new space of worship more impressive, wider and much more colossal. The result was the sanctuary that we can see today, with its large courtyard and majestic arches. The old sanctuary is still preserved and is currently used as a museum.
The Consell General is located in Andorra la Vella's city center. This building was built to accommodate Andorra's parliamentary activity and encourage more extensive facilities where the Principality can be managed, since the former headquarters of the Council, the Casa de la Vall, became too small. The infrastructure has a total area of 16,000 m2, between the different floors of the building and the open spaces that are used as a rest area.
The architecture of the building reflects its symbolic capacity, the thought of society, its durability and being a reference in time and place. On top of that, it is the reception center for different exhibitions and events, both cultural and social. Its great hall welcomes every year the institutional Constitution's Day's speech and other outstanding events, such as the government's head Christmas speech or different political appearances of great importance.
Calidea and La Dama de Gel is formed by two sculptures. The two scenarios embrace a different meaning and show different actions. Calidea is the work of the artist Ángel Calvente and his inspiration comes from legends and myths about water, while the Ice Lady is by Philip Lavall and represents a symbiosis between the figure of a horse and that of a sylph.
The sculpture is complemented by a water game that surrounds the two figures. The water is projected from Calidea and hits the Ice Lady. This fact symbolizes the union between both representations and is formalized even more during the winter months, when the water freezes and remains petrified on both figures. The work is in the tunnel of the Pla de Escaldes-Engordany's roundabout.
The old Radio d'Andorra's building is full of symbolism and is a reference for the country's media communication. The construction dates from 1938-1939 and presents an architecture based on granite. As the name implies, the building was built to host a commercial radio station. The creator, Jacques Trémoulet, raised the new station fearing that the civil prohibition of the private radio of the time could close other stations he had, such as Radiophonie du Midi. When meeting in the Principality, Radio d'Andorra was not subject to radio broadcasting regulations either from France or from Spain, therefore, it served as a private means of communication during World War II. In fact, Radio d'Andorra was the only French private broadcaster that broadcasted throughout the conflict without being under direct control of either France or Germany. Even the station's independence remained years after the end of the war.
In the 70s and 80s, Radio d'Andorra began to fail. The inhabitants of the Principality were unable to have a radio station that did not speak Catalan (the official language of the country) and asked to close it. Finally, in 1977, the General Council announced that Radio d'Andorra had to close its doors. Through this negotiation, RTVA emerges, the public radio-television that the country still has today. Since its closure, Radio d'Andorra has been a museum and serves as a storage area for different works and heritage objects.
The Paris Bridge is one of Andorra la Vella's emblem , linking both sides of the Gran Valira River and connecting the different commercial and tourist areas of the city. Because of its location, it is impossible not to bump into it during a walk through the city center. The most interesting postcard comes at nightfall, when giant letters with the words 'ANDORRA LA VELLA' light up leaving a trail of lights worthy of being photographed. Currently, the walk that follows the bridge is also lit with different light bulbs and exterior lights that have just completed the space and give the area a unique personality and interest.
Juberri Gardens are located in Sant Julià de Lòria. It is a green space enlivened with different realistic sculptures of miscellaneous animals. It is an ideal proposal for art and nature lovers, since the place combines the two aspects perfectly. The garden is located on a hillside that displays magnificent views of the Sant Julià valley. Therefore, you can enjoy a quiet walk between trees and sculptures and, at the same time, look at a great panoramic view of Andorra's valleys.
The Caldea thermoludic center is a reference for the parish of Escaldes-Engordany. The building stands out among all the buildings in the area and rises over 80 meters high to preside over the scalding sky. The building attracts attention for its avant-garde design and for its original forms. The main tower has 10 floors and inside there are different thermoludic activities, such as Roman baths, saunas, massage rooms, hot tubs, water shows ... On top of that, the building is enlivened with a spectacular set of exterior lights that change colors and make all the architectural work more majestic.
Tempesta en una tassa de te is a sculpture by Dennis Oppenheim that was built on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the CASS (Andorran Social Security Fund). The infrastructure is located in the Coll de la Botella, in Pal (La Massana), and symbolizes the magic that is hidden between the forces of nature. The infrastructure also reverses the logic of the problems, emphasizing that within the large scale of the sculpture, a big problem in a small context ends up turning into a small problem within a larger context.
Just in front of Andorra la Vella's Council, in the Lidia Armengol square, we find the 7 poets. The work, by Jaume Plensa, was inaugurated on January 21, 2014. The structure represents 7 poets (one for each parish) sitting on columns 10 meters high. This is done expressly to cause people to look at the sky, incorporating this natural element into their work. With this construction, the artist wanted to represent the community of poets spread around the world and to exalt the bond that they maintain, emphasizing the fact that people with this profession are doomed to failure because of the small future oportunities but in spite of that and they become a brainstorm for other people.
The Noblesse du temps is a sculpture made by the Catalan artist Salvador Dalí and was given to Andorra's Government in 1999, but it was not placed in its current location until 2010, at the Plaza de la Rotonda in Andorra la Vella. The sculpture displays a clock that is melting. Its meaning is similar to the passage of time and, according to the artist, the rule of time over humans. If you look closely, we can see 2 characters, one on each side of the watch. One of them is a woman, the one who represents the body, the flesh and the material, but the angel symbolizes the spirit, the memory and the intangible. The sculpture is 4'90m high, 1.70m deep, 2.60m long and has a total weight of 1400Kg.