Despite having an area of just over 460 square kilometres, Andorra surprises most visitors with its many artistic, cultural and natural heritage, as well as the wide range of leisure and services. Contrary to what you might think when you consider its size, the most recommended for visiting Andorra and discover all its corners, some of forced visit is to plan a stay of four to seven days duration. In order to answer the typical question “What to see in Andorra? “, from And.Immo, we list the main attractions that cannot be missed during your stay in the Principality.
1. The Madriu Valley – Perafita Claror
Located in the southeast of the Principality and covering a total of 4092 hectares, 10% of the territory of the country, Madriu-Perafita Claror includes the parishes of Andorra la Vella, Escaldes, Encamp and Sant Julia de Lòria. Declared since 2004 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this beautiful place is distinguished by its overwhelming landscape and its structures of organization and management of the space of medieval times which remained intact, becoming the largest secondary drainage basin in the country with 12 km from end to end and a height of 1855 meters.
With 2905 meters, the highlight is the Portelleta peak, but if you want to make itineraries more affordable, its hiking network and mountain huts make for a great number of excursions. In each, you can also see the native flora and fauna, endangered species such as the bearded vulture, the capercaillie, ptarmigan or boreal owl, as well as different types of vegetation such as swamps and riverine forests.
2. Viewpoint of Roc del Quer
Inaugurated on July 19, 2016, the Canillo Roc del Quer watchtower became a major attraction of the parish which receives thousands of visitors both in winter and especially in summer. This installation, located in the upper part of the Roc del Quer consists of a platform 20 meters long, 12 of which are suspended in a vacuum. In addition, part of the bridge is made of glass, which accentuates the feeling of suspension. This installation, which ends with the figure, also on the void, of a thinker sitting on the outside edge of the beam, sculptor Miguel Ángel González, offering a panoramic view of the Canillo valley and becoming one of the main points view of the principality.
3. Casa de la Vall
In the field of architectural and historical heritage, Casa de la Vall is one of the main buildings to understanding and discover the life of the late sixteenth century Andorra. This fortified house, located in the old town of Andorra la Vella, is the former seat of the Parliament, being currently the smallest of all Europe. Built in 1589 as a house and defence tower of the Busquets family and bought in 1702 by the Council of the Earth, Casa de la Vall was used as a meeting place for representatives of the parishes of the country but was also used as court of justice.
In 1962 was renovated, among others to improve its state of conservation, meeting room and balance the whole building. In 2011, the General Council moved to another building, just next to Casa de la Vall, a building that was decided shortly after to adopt the Constitution in response to the growth of parliamentary activity.
Thus, the General Council currently has two sites, a historic building which remains the place where meetings and traditional ceremonies, Casa de la Vall, and the new building, which currently exercises parliamentary activity.
4. The lakes of Tristaina
The three mountain lakes are undoubtedly the main attractions of the Tristania lakes road, which give it the name. This road, which is complemented by a medium difficulty excursion suitable for hikers of all levels, is a circular road that covers a distance of 4.4 km and can be completed in just over two hours. The starting point of the route, from an amount up to a maximum altitude of 2330 meters, is located in the ski resort of Vallnord-Arcalis located next to the restaurant La Coma.
As far as the lakes are concerned, the first, which is smaller in size, is that of the most crystalline waters. Then you come to the middle lake, surrounded by hills and rocks. And finally, the last, which is the largest and highest, has a circular shape and is housed in a typical mountain glacier area at the foot of the peak Tristaina (2878 meters). This area allows for swimming in summer.
5. Meritxell Sanctuary
Located in the town of Meritxell (Canillo), the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Meritxell is one of the most emblematic and singular buildings in Andorra, becoming a religious complex with a high symbolic value for the people of the Principality. Indeed, in the sanctuary is the image of Our Lady of Meritxell, the saint patron of the country. The image is a polychrome sculpture resembling the original Romanesque piece destroyed in the fire of 1972. In the basilica, you can also find other sculptures of Andorran saints corresponding to other parishes of the country.
The relevance of this sanctuary served for Pope Francis gives him the title of minor basilica in 2014, which became the religious complex of Meritxell, the only place of worship with distinction throughout the principality.
A distinction that makes the Meritxell sanctuary has joined the so-called Ruta Mariana road linking four main shrines in Spain and France, Pilar, Montserrat, Torreciudad and Lourdes. For this reason, the church has also become a major attraction for visitors driven by faith and spirituality.