Such an interesting place! Andorra La Vella is the highest-elevation capital city in Europe, at 3,356 feet. With a population at just over 20,000 people, it is the largest city in Andorra (though very small compared to most capital cities). Andorra, officially, is a principality, as it is a diarchy (no, we never heard that term, either) headed by two Co-Princes: the President of France and the Catholic bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain. Isn’t that so interesting?? The area was first settled in 9500 BC as a passing and resting place between the two sides of the Pyrenees. You can see that reality in many of the photos below: the city buildings have dramatic mountains on all sides. During World War II, Andorra remained neutral and served as an important smuggling route between Vichy France and Francoist Spain, with a black market network of propaganda, culture, and cinematic art. Andorra reminds us a lot of the time we spent in Liechtenstein several years ago. Another small country, its capital of Vaduz was similarly surrounded and nestled by mountains.
First up is a fountain we stumbled upon walking around that even most Andorrans miss: the Font del Cap de la Call. We love that the water spouts come out of their mouths. After that are photos of some of the streets and sights around the city, including a famous sculpture by Salvador Dali that has become one of the city’s most-visited places. Sitting in the Piazza Rotonda Andorra La Vella is the 16-foot-tall Nobility of Time, given to the city in 2010. It is reminiscent of Dali’s melting clocks in his more famous painting, Persistence of Memory. We were astounded that this valuable artwork is out in the open with no security, no prohibition against touching it. Amazing, as it had previously been on display in museums around the world.
There are five photos that we took on a hike into the mountains this morning, seeking out the Sola Irrigation Canal Trail. We walked up a very steep cobblestone path halfway up the mountain! Well, Mike did; Jan gave up about 3/4 of the way there, as her bad knee was feeling the pain, so to speak. You can see the views of the entire city from up above. Along the path are small gardens; we liked the one of the small shed with a pumpkin vine growing over it. A funny thing happened on the trail: we said Hola! to a couple passing us, and they said hi…we found out they were from Chicago! It is a very multicultural location, and the four languages that are the most spoken are Catalan, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The last two photos made us laugh. Kokosnot doesn’t really sound like a restaurant you would want to patronize, but it is high-end and one of the most expensive in the city. And look at the menu from a small snack bar in the last photo…a bikini for lunch, anyone??