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Andorra, or officially known as the Principality of Andorra, is a small sovereign landlocked nation that is located on the Iberian Peninsula and sandwiched between France and Spain, high in the eastern Pyrenees mountain range. As the small microstate has a very longstanding history, it is believed that it was created by Charlemagne, the King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first Emperor of the Romans from 800, Andorra was ruled by the count of Urgell until 988, when it was transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell. Andorra as we know it today was formed by a charter in 1278, and it is likely the only nation in the world that is ruled by two different entities, in Andorra’s case the bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain and the President of France, hence why it is sometimes referred to as coprincipality. According to the charter, both these leaders should come to the small nation at least once in a year. The capital city Andorra la Vella is considered to be the highest capital city in Europe, and even though the country’s population does not exceed more than 80,000 inhabitants, there are more than 10 million visitors that visit this small mountain paradise.
As Andorra has traditionally strong affinity with Catalonia in northeastern Spain, the Andorran are a Romance ethnic group of originally Catalan descent, and many attractions in the nation’s capital and throughout the country have some resemblance with the Catalonian attractions. The most visited and most popular place to discover is the capital city, Andorra la Vella, which in translation from Catalan means “Andorra the Town” in order to distinguish it from the country. You can encover more about the world of Andorra at Alluring World, and discover more about this amazing world.
Casa de la Vall is a historical and very important house which is located in the capital city, and due to its location in the main center of the city, the house is one of the main focal points for visitors in the small nation where everyone will be able to understand the remarkable history and solid institutional basis of the Principality. Built on a rock that is overlooking the valley of Valira River, it was used as a manor house for the wealthy Busquets family, in addition to the defense tower located right next to it. The rectangular shape of the building which is completely built from stone is a perfect example of how the architecture from Andorra looks like, as it was the case of such structures built from wealthy Catalan families. There are two floors, and at the southern lateral part, on each side of the building’s corners two turrets can be seen, gracefully projecting defensive position for a better protection of the house. At the front side of the building, where the entrance door is located, is the Busquets family crest along with the coat of arms of Andorra.
Caldea Resort is another site that allows visitors to relax and enjoy in the wonderful Andorran capital, as it is Europe’s largest health spa located in Escaldes-Engordany, which is one of the seven parishes in Andorra. With 6,000 sq m (64,583 sq ft) of inside and outside lagoons, saunas, jacuzzis, a grapefruit pool, an Aztecian pool, Indo-Roman baths, cascades, bubble beds, warm marble slates, and much more, and the waters rich in sulfur, sodium and minerals make Caldea Resort is one of the busiest places in the city.
Sant Esteve Church is a Romanesque and partially Gothic church that is located at the entrance to the old quarter of Andorra la Vella, dating back to 12th century, even though there were some considerable modifications that were carried out in 20th century. Due to the significant work done on this religious structure, from the original only remain the semicircular apse, part of the walls of the nave and a small apse. Still, with the recognizable appearance, Sant Esteve Church is considered to be one of the biggest landmarks from Andorra la Vella that is instantly recognized by everyone.
While there are countless things for visitors to do while in Andorra, one of the more popular options is the hiking of Coma Pedrosa which is the highest point of Andorra with 2,943 m (9,656 ft) above sea level. Throughout Andorran history, the mountain served as a protection to the people and rulers of the nation, as it provided ample security from invasions, and the starting point is the town of Arinsal in the parish of La Massana from where plenty of people are starting their ascend. The hiking is technically straightforward, although strenuous, with a spectacular views of the mountains and peaks that surround it.
When would be the best time to visit Andorra depends on what you would like to do. If you are a skiing buff, then the best time is to visit in winter time, between November and March when the country is visited daily by skiers who are enjoying the 305 km (190 mi) of slopes, served with approximately 125 ski lifts. The biggest and busiest ski resort is Grandvalira which has glowing reviews from the winter enthusiasts, and with the 210 km (130 mi) of ski slopes, it definitely should deserve that title.
If you are not into winter sports, and prefer the warm weather, then hiking and mountaineering is the other option, which is doable between May and September, as the weather is not too rough and with the sunny days, people can see the surrounding mountains which cannot be seen anywhere else.
If none of these two activities are suitable for you, then the best option is to stay in the city and enjoy in the shopping tax free alternatives, and many stores that sell famous brands. The variety of shops and shopping centers allows any customer find what they are looking for, be it fashion, accessories, perfumeries, electronics, sports, opticians and so much more.
Getting to Andorra la Vella is possible only by land, as the country does not have an existing airport for international flights, and it depends on France and Spain for tourists to arrive by car or bus. There is the Andorra - La Seu airport in Spain which has flights that can get visitors as close as possible to Andorra, and with organized ground transportation visitors can get to Andorra.
Now that you have all the information, you are prepared for you next trip to Andorra. For more information, check out our main page on all things related to Andorra and safe travels!
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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.