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The museums of Andorra  

       
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Sanctuary of Meritxell (30 min. by car from your holiday apartment or chalet):

Meritxell is a historical record of the Andorran people's devotion to their patron saint: The Virgin of Meritxell.

The old chapel dedicated to Santa Maria, originally Romanesque, suffered serious reforms during the 17th century. It burnt down in 1972 after the celebrations for the national holiday on 8th September, and was rebuilt in 1994. The permanent exhibition, Meritxell memória, is now kept there, bringing together pictures of memories, gatherings, ceremonies and objects, to convey a tradition that is still alive in the collective memory of the people of Andorra.
 

The new Sanctuary is a modern temple designed by the Catalan architect, Ricard Bofill, inaugurated in 1976. It is a wholly eclectic structure, synthesising the work of man with the surrounding countryside, and inspired by a mixture of various styles. The bell tower is reminiscent of the great medieval monasteries of south-eastern Europe, while the great arches that combine white stone with slate recall the ruins of the main arches of the old chapel after the fire. The large apertures are reminiscent of Islamic art, intended to form a relationship with the surrounding countryside, likewise the Cloister of Mirrors, reinforced by the presence of water. The layout of the building as a Greek cross and the play of geometrical figures in the pavement bring in touches of Italian Renaissance. Above the altar stands a reproduction of the Romanesque carving of the Virgin of Meritxell. The original was one of the oldest in Andorra and was lost in the fire of 1972.

Services and activities
Guided visits during Summer months (July and August) Adapted access to the Sanctuary and outside terraces Nature trail to the oratories of Meritxell and the village of Prats

Free admission

Opening hours
Wednesday to Monday, 09.15 - 13.00, and 15.00 - 18.00. Closed on Tuesdays

Address
Meritxell,  Canillo, Tel and Fax +(376) 851 253

Our impression:
You may like the style or not but it is very impressive.  Well worth a visit.




The National Automobile Museum (20 min. by car from your holiday apartment or chalet):
 
 
Transport has been one of the most important challenges of the 20th century. Constant technological improvement has made vehicles an almost essential tool for modern society. The National Automobile Museum illustrates the changes that vehicles have undergone since they first appeared, from the steam machine such as the Pinette (1885), the oldest item in the museum, up to the 1970s. About eighty vehicles allow us to see how design has evolved to suit the needs of each period and how the speed and power of each model have been improved. Also exhibited are about a hundred bicycles, an illustration of the challenges that technological advances have met, by transforming the simple, uncomfortable and dangerous vehicle, into a stylish, reliable and practical machine, via a process of selection that has enabled the bicycle of today to be a high-tech and commercial product, apt for a wide range of requirements.

The exhibited models are part of one of the largest collections in Europe and helps to divulge a heritage that is little known due to the fast evolution of technology.

Services and activities
Not guided.  Adapted access to all floors except the basement for disabled persons.

Admission
Normal: 2,40 E Discounted:1,20 E (groups of more than 10, senior citizens and students) Free to members of ICOM and state schools

Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday, 09.30 13.30 and 15.00 -18.00 Sundays and public holidays, 10.00 - 14.00 Mondays closed

Address
Avda Coprincep Episcopal, 64. Encamp Tel. and Fax +(376) 832 266

The museum will be closed: Carnival Monday (February) / the Sunday of Festa Major (August)

Our impression:
All automobile museums are quite alike and the Andorran one is rather small.  The collection of bicycles, on the other hand, is quite unique.




The Areny-Plandolit House museum (10 minutes by car from your holiday apartment or chalet):
 
The house of the noble Areny-Plandolit family dates from the 17th century, but most of the building's structures are mid-19th century, a time of economic growth for the family due to the figure of Don Guillem d'Areny-Plandolit, Baron of Senaller i Gramenet. Sindic General for Andorra and promoter of the Nova Reforma (New Reform) of 1866, he was one of the owners of the Andorran forges, an important industry until the end of the 19th century when it was displaced by the new furnaces.

This building, which was a summer residence, is true to the lifestyle and social position of the family, and exhibits all the objects and souvenirs from an age when luxuries and whims were still unknown in these valleys. As objects from different periods of the family's life have been reinstated, the collection is fairly mixed but of great ethnological value, combining elements from the mountains with those brought from the city. The dining rooms, noble hall, music room, elements of defence, ample cellars, library and chapel demonstrate how this family differed from the rest of Andorran society.

The tour transports us to 19th and 20th century Andorra and includes a walk round the gardens of the enclosure, which also houses the old Museum of Stuffed Animals (1930), now refurbished as the National Auditorium.

Services and activities
Guided tours only - advance booking recommended / School workshops / Shop

Admission
Normal: 2,40 E Discounted: 1,20 E (groups of more than 10, senior citizens and students) Free to members of ICOM and state schools.

Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday, 09.30 13.30 and 15.00 -18.30 Sundays and public holidays 10.00 -14.00. Mondays closed The visit will last 45 m. The last morning visit is at 12.45 and the last visit of the afternoon is at 17.45

Address
Casa d'Areny-Plandolit, Carrer Major, Ordino  Tel. +(376) 836 908 Fax +(376) 839 660

The museum will be closed:
29th June / Festa del Roser d'Ordino (July) / Festa Major in Ordino (September).

Our impression:
Well worth a visit as you get the impression that you are visiting someone's private mansion instead of a museum.  There are some very original items to be seen and the guided tour is in English.  Very recommendable even to the non-enthusiasts.  Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to get in as MANY groups visit the museum and not without reason.




The Andorran Postal Museum (10 minutes by car from your holiday apartment or chalet):
 
 
The need to communicate is inherent to mankind, and communication over long distances has been a challenge for all societies. From the first shout to modern technology, there is a great history of overcoming obstacles. The formation of the Andorran postal system is closely linked to recent Andorran history, and has contributed to the transformation of lifestyles in Andorra. From the traginers and vianants (porters) to postmen and modern technology, communication in all its forms has evolved around the requirements of society, transforming the postal system and its organisation in each period, endowing it with new, more efficient means and processes for transmitting messages. 

Andorra is unusual in being a border state: this postal zone was first managed by the Spanish Post Office as part of the province Lerida, then issued her own stamps, produced by the national factories of Spain and France, for posting abroad, since transmission of letters and packets inside the country is free. 

The museum introduces the visitor to the postal world through an audio-visual presentation before touring the history of Andorra's postal system. For the keenest, the whole Andorran philatelic collection from 1928 is on exhibit, as are the processes of stamp elaboration and printing and various philatelic curiosities.

Services and activities
Guided tours with advance booking / School workshops Shop

Admission
Normal: 2,40 E Discounted: 1,20 E (groups of more than 10, senior citizens and students) Free to members of ICOM and state schools.

Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday, 09.30 - 13.30 and 15.00 -18.30, Sundays and public holidays 10.00 - 14.00 Mondays closed

Address
Borda del Raser, Carrer Major. Ordino, Tel. +(376) 839 760 Fax +(376) 839 660

The museum will be closed:
29th June / Roser (July) / Festa Major in Ordino (September)

Our impression:
Worth a visit if you are into stamps




The Rull house museum (10 minutes by car from your holiday apartment or chalet):
 
 
Houses are everything in traditional Pyrenean societies such as that of Andorra. They combine the concepts of family and estate and become the main elements of social organisation. Casa Rull at Sispony was one of the wealthiest houses in the parish of La Massana. Over the centuries it went through periods of greater or lesser prosperity, lands were bought and sold, debts were incurred and cleared. Heirs and younger brothers, heiresses and daughters-in-law, farm hands and servants have all lived under this roof, following the thread of the history of the country and evolving with it. A big house like this is a living organism which grows and adapts to the family's changing needs. We must bear in mind that the house was not only lived in but a whole series of tasks connected with agriculture were carried out there.

The main part of the building of Casa Rull dates from the 17th century. Although the house was a wealthy one, there is no great luxury nor are there any distinguishing marks. Today it has a ground floor, two upper floors and an attic. But this was not always the case. Casa Rull, when first built, only had a ground floor (with the entrance and staircase), one upper floor (with the kitchen, the bakery, the oven and the bedrooms) and a second upper floor serving as an attic. The roof had four slopes, not two as at present. Changes were made in the 17th century which basically affected the ground floor with the piercing of new windows and the building of a balcony. The main facade was also plastered over at that time.

At some time in the 19th century the house suffered a fire. Reconstruction affected above all the roof which went from four slopes to two.

Services and activities
Guided visits / Freelance visits with audio guide /Workshops for school children / Adapted access / Shop / Multimedia room Audio-visual room / Drink dispensers / Lockers

Admission
Normal: 2,40 E Discounted: 1,20 E (groups of more than 10, senior citizens and students) Free to members of ICOM and state schools

Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday, 9.30 13.30 and 15.00 - 18.30 Sundays and public holidays 10.00 - 14.00 The visit will last 45 m. The last morning visit is at 12.45 and the last visit of the afternoon is at 17.45

Address
Carrer Major. SISPONY, Phone +(376) 836 919 Fax +(376) 835 419 E-amil: casarull@andorra.ad

The museum will be closed: 24 June Village Fete of Sispony/Roser of La Massana (July) /Village Fete La Massana (August)

Our impression:
Beautiful building, although the "themes" represented in each room (birth, marriage and death) are somewhat odd.  The audio visual presentation at the beginning of the visit is average. Also, you're given a tape recorder which you listen to during the entire visit which is a shame as it is impersonal, a somewhat outdated and "cheap" way of conveying information and you cannot ask questions.




Casa de la Vall (15 minutes by car from your holiday apartment or chalet):

In 1419 an inter-parish organisation was ratified which was to be the embryo of the Council of the Land, later called the General Council of the Valleys of Andorra. Casa de la Vall is the seat of this body which is the national parliament. It is a building distinguished by its historical connotations.
 
 

The building was constructed in 1580 according to the date on the keystone at the entrance. It belonged to the Busquets family and was purchased by the General Council in 1702. The building has a square ground plan and the interior is divided up by three master walls as is typical in Catalan patrician country houses. Social instability at the end of the 16th century and questions of social distinction explain the presence of various defensive elements (cannon hole, tower and battlements).

The house underwent in depth restoration in 1962, during which the plaster on the outer walls was removed and a second cannon hole was constructed in symmetry to the original one. The present Andorran coat of arms is on the main fayade above the entrance to the building where it was placed in 1763. To one side there is the old coat of arms which post dates the 14th century.

In the gardens there is a dove cot, a baptismal font from the church of Sant Julià de Lòria and a boundary cross from La Massana. Several commemorative sculptures are also to be seen such as the one by Josep Viladomat dedicated to the New Reform of 1866, the one by the Italian sculptor Luigi Terruggi commemorating the 700th anniversary of the signing of the first Pariatge and the most recent one which is by Emili Armengol and bears witness to the proclamation of the Constitution in 1993.

Services and activities
Guided visits only - you are recommended to book in advance / Workshops for school children

Admission free

Opening hours
Monday to Saturday from 9.30 -13.00 and 15.00 -18.00 Sundays and public holidays 10.00 -14.00

Address
Casa de la Vall, Carrer de la Vall, Andorra la Vella, Phone +/376) 829 129, Fax +(376) 869 863 / 829 129

The building will be closed:
Sundays from November to May / June 24 /Village Fete (August) / December 21

Our impression:
Well worth visiting one of the oldest and smallest parliaments in Europe, the kitchen where the counselors used to eat before undergoing their long trip back to their distinctive parishes as well as the presidential gifts received.  Unfortunately, the Casa de la Vall is on just about every group tour visiting Andorra and it is sometimes difficult to get in.




The Nature Interpretation Centre in Ordino (10 min from your holiday apartment or chalet by car):

The Nature Interpretation Centre is the door to enter the valley of Ordino.  It contains a conceptual multi-image presentation on the development of the landscape with man, an interactive exhibition and an environmental education workshop with the support of  UNESCO.
 

The centre invites you to go further following the river along the old highway or to the Sorteny Valley Nature Park, on theme circuits accompanied by an interpreter guide who will open the unpublished book of the Vall d'Ordino for you.  In winter explore the same circuits on snowshoes following the routes of the old explorers.

The Interpretation centre of Nature set out to interpret the cultural landscape (nature and culture) of the valley of Ordino, reveals meanings and gives the keys to begin a dialog with the natural and cultural heritage of the valley so as to have a uniquely enriching experience.

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday from 09:30 to 13:30 and from 15:30 to 18:30, Sundays and bank holidays from 09:00 to 14:00.  Closed on Mondays.  T: (+376) 837 939, fax (+376) 837 839 E-mail: cinvo@andorra.ad




The Viladomat museum (15 min by car from your holiday apartment or chalet):
The incomparable sculptor Josep Viladomat lived in Escaldes for many years.  The work of this artist is spread all over the world, in Europe and the US. The art critics and journalist have often praised Josep Viladomat's talents, his human qualities and unpretentiousness.

The Municipality of Escaldes-Engordany offers visitors the possibility of admiring Josep Viladomat's work. A permanent exhibition gathers some 140 sculptures showing a vast and whole expression of the work and evolution of this Spanish artist, born in Manlleu in 1899.

Museu Viladomat, Escaldes, Andorra

Opening hours: from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00
Address: Edifici Salita Parc, Josep Viladomat street, Escaldes (close to Caldea), tel: (+376) 829 340
Entrance fee: 1,80 Euros
 



The Andorran model museum (15 minutes by car from your holiday apartment or chalet:
 

Apart from Escaldes-Engordany's cultural and recreational points of interest, the parish offers the possibility to visit a museum which is unique in the world, situated right in the centre of town.

The Andorran model museum was created by the Unió Pro-Turisme (the local tourism board) and regroups a small scale version of the main representative monuments of the Principality.

The pieces exposed in the museum are unique, exceptional and incomparable.  Most were made by the artist Josep Colomé, a painter and model maker from Terrassa who died in 1995.  Now his son, Josep Colomé, continues his father's task and the museum possesses some of his works.

Like his father, he bases himself on a maximum amount of documentation on the monument in question and works scrupulously and meticulously with noble materials such as with wood and stone collected on the site of the original monument making the models more realistic.

Casa de la Vall, Andorra

Opening hours: Monday from 16:00 to 20:00, Tuesday to Saturday: from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00.
Address: av. de Pessebre nº 16, Escaldes, tel: (+376) 861 506  (close to Caldea).

Our impression: the models are very well made indeed and a visit is well worth it if you are into just that: models.  Seeing that the originals of the vast majority of the models still exist in Andorra, why not go and see the original instead of a copy?



Nicolaï Siadristy's microminiature museum in Ordino (10 minutes by car from your holiday apartment or chalet):
 
 

Nicolaï Siadristy, considered the world's best microminiaturists, invites you to visit his permanent museum in Ordino.  His works can only be contemplated through a microscope.  Is it possible to pass a camel through the eye of a needle? Siadristy passes a whole caravan through it, as well as a palm tree and a pyramid.  Other works include a tray complete with a wine bottle and glasses set on a grain of salt, the human being through life, symbolised by a gold thread 400 times thinner than a human hair and many others.

Address: Edifici Coma, Ordino, tel: 83 83 76 

Our impression: although the audio-visual presentation at the beginning of the visit is a bit boring, the miniatures themselves are very interesting and fun to look at as you can see them with and without the microscopes. Well worth a visit on a rainy day.



The Perfume museum in Escaldes (a 15 minutos by car, main shopping street in Escaldes):

If you enjoyed Süskind's book "Perfume", a visit to this museum is a must. You will be taken through the world of perfume with direct contact with essences and aromas. A audiovisual presentation explains the evolution of perfume and its history. The exposition of flasks and bottles reflect the art of perfume during the 20th century. The museum has over 25'000 pieces of which over 1'000 are on display. There is also a shop where you can buy pieces from famous designers and related products.

Prices: adults 5,00 €, groups as of 10 pers.: 3,00 €. Free entrance for children under 13, seniors over 65 years, holder of the Julia Perfume card and persons with a cash receipt from any Julia store. Opening hours: Monday: closed. Tuesday to Friday: from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00. Saturdays from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 15:30 to 20:00. Sundays: from 10:00 to 13:30.

The visit takes about 1 hour. For more information: Tel +376 80 19 26, E-mail: museudelperfum@julia.ad, web: www.museurdelperfum.ad
Address:: Avda. Carlemany 115, 1era planta, Escaldes (Principat d'Andorra)

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