Hidden in a valley, walled by high mountains, Andorra is built from wood and stone, houses perched on cliff edges and peaks, the main road following the path of the river that rushes from the mountains, carving the land. When I told a friend that I was going to Andorra last year, he commented that he’d always thought of it as a made-up place, one of those mythical European kingdoms you see in movies.
The capital city of Andorra-La-Vella does have a bit of a fairytale feel, especially in the old part of town, though beyond there are shiny modern office buildings as well as lots of excellent tax-free shopping. Located between, and jointly governed by, France and Spain, Andorra is an ancient Principality steeped in history, with the capital city founded by Charlemagne over a thousand years ago.
The Casa De La Vall, above, was built in the sixteenth century and is still the state’s parliamentary house, though a new modern building nearby now houses much of the administration.
I loved the way the mountains felt, like a wall against the outside world, embracing and protecting the towns running along the valley. Apparently it can feel quite shut in during winter when the snow is high and travel more difficult, but the increasing popularity of the many ski resorts mean that there is plenty to do all year round.
When we left Andorra we followed the rushing river, which became wider and lazier as it headed towards Spain. As we crossed the plains I looked back, and all I could see were mountains, Andorra hidden from sight once more, as though it were never there.
Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next week!