A Tour of Andorra’s Romanesque Architectural Landmarks

Església de Sant Romà de les Bons, Andorra | © Angela Llop / Flickr
Església de Sant Romà de les Bons, Andorra | © Angela Llop / Flickr
Photo of Esme Fox
17 August 2017

Andorra is home to several architectural styles, namely Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and contemporary. Its most prevalent and celebrated style, however, is Romanesque, which visitors can see in the country’s many parish churches, known for their charming beauty, stone walls and Lombardian bell towers.

Sant Joan de Caselles Church

Our tour begins at one of the most important and best examples of Romanesque churches in the country, Sant Joan de Caselles. Located in the village of Canillo, it dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Its style is typical of Andorran Romanesque churches, complete with a rectangular bell tower, wooden roof and semicircular apse. Inside are some beautiful examples of Romanesque murals, as well as a 16th-century altarpiece with Italian and German influences.

Església de Sant Joan de Caselles, Andorra | © Albert Pujadas / WikiCommons

Nostra Senyora de Meritxell Church

The Sanctuary of Meritxell also sits in the parish of Canillo and is unique among Andorran churches because it so cleverly combines an ancient Romanesque church with modern architecture and designs. It is also an important church because it was once home to a statue of Our Lady of Meritxell, Andorra’s patron saint. A fire destroyed much the church, including the statue, in 1972; during its reconstruction, modern elements were added.

Meritxell, Andorra

Santa Coloma Church

Located just outside Andorra la Vella, in the village of the same name, the Church of Santa Coloma is another excellent example of Andorran Romanesque style. The original structure was actually pre-Roman and dates back to around the 10th century; however, much was added later during the 12th century, such as the cylindrical Lombard bell tower. Inside, visitors will find many 12th-century Romanesque paintings by the Master of Santa Coloma.

Iglesia Santa_Coloma, Andorra | © Simonjoan / WikiCommons

Santa Eulalia Church

Found in the village of Encamp, Santa Eulalia is another of the country’s Romanesque churches; however, much of it was changed and added to later during the 17th to 20th centuries. One of the oldest parts is its Romanesque bell tower, built in the 11th century. The Museu d’Art Sacre (Holy Art Museum) sits in a small annex next to the church.

Church of Santa Eulalia, Andorra

Sant Serni de Canillo Church

Situated right in the historic quarter of the village of Canillo, the Church of Sant Serni de Canillo sees some of the oldest houses and buildings in the area surrounding it. The original church, constructed in the 12th century, is in the Romanesque style; however, additions and alterations, such as the main nave and bell tower, were added during the Baroque period (from the 17th to 18th centuries). There is also a Baroque altarpiece found inside.

Sant Serni de Canillo, Andorra

Sant Esteve Church

Sant Esteve sits in Andorra la Vella’s main square – the Plaça Príncep Benlloch, next to the parliament building. Built in the 12th century, it has a Romanesque semicircular apse; however, major additions and renovations took place during the 20th century. Many of the important Romanesque paintings, once housed in the church, are now on display at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Church of Sant Eseteve, Andorra

Les Bons Historical Complex

Situated on a rocky hill, looking over the village of Encamp, Les Bons Historical Complex originally dates back to medieval times. It comprises the Romanesque Church of Sant Romà, two watch towers, a defence tower and a moat-type structure. Inside the church, you can see reproductions of important Romanesque paintings by the Master of Santa Coloma.

Església de Sant Romà de les Bons, Andorra | © Angela Llop / Flickr

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