The Andorran landscape and society underwent a deep transformation during the second half of the 20th century, and our country, with its long and complex history, became the subject of many stereotypical and inaccurate ideas. To understand that history, one need only walk through its mountains and valleys, and explore its small museums to discover the history of Andorra and its society from many different perspectives.
The ICOM defines museums as: a museum is a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage. Open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability. They operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experiences for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing (Prague, 24th August 2022, Extraordinary General Assembly of ICOM).
The various museums, monuments and churches open to the public are managed by the Museums and Monuments Department of the Ministry of Culture in order to guarantee their preservation, diffusion, activity and the incoming of visitors. The Comuns (city halls) and other private institutions manage various cultural facilities. Together, they make the Museum Board, and you will find them at Museus.ad.
Cultural heritage is one of the main testimonies of the history, identity and creativity of a country. Society and public administrations have an essential duty to preserve this wealth and pass it on to future generations in the best of conditions.
To that end, this is the current legislation regulating the cultural framework of Andorra:
Article 34 of the Constitution of the Principality of Andorra
“The State shall guarantee the conservation, promotion and diffusion of the historical, cultural and artistic heritage of Andorra.”
9/2003 Law on Andorran Cultural Heritage (in Catalan)
15/2014 Law, modifying the 9/2003 Law on Andorran Cultural Heritage (in Catalan)
The Cultural Heritage Advisory Council is the advisory organ of the Andorran Government in all areas relating to cultural heritage (in Catalan).
Adhesion and signature of many international agreements and treaties on the subject (in Catalan).
1935 to 1955
The tourists of the early 20th century found in Andorra a welcoming, exotic and peaceful environment, in a country where tourist infrastructure and services were still practically non-existent and the road network was deficient. Tourists were attracted by an unspoilt landscape yet to be discovered.
Museums were non-existent, except for the Museum of Zoology, which functioned between 1935 and 1955 and was located inside the building that currently houses the National Concert Hall, in Ordino. This was a private museum, founded by Pau-Xavier d’Areny-Plandolit who, among other professions, was a naturopath and taxidermist. This Andorran museum had a collection of stuffed animals (elephants, giraffes, lions, snakes, etc.), which had to be sold to the Museum of Zoology of Barcelona because of economic problems. Photographs are the only remaining elements of this facility, and they give us an idea about the collection and the exhibition, which was structured as a kind of cabinet of curiosities.
1955 to the late 1980s
This second stage is characterized by mass tourism, which was deeply linked to the commercial boom and to the general improvement of communications and services.
This was a time when Andorra opened to the international community. The first generations of college-going Andorrans spearheaded an emergence of Andorran culture. Many museum projects were designed and materialized during these prodigious decades; the National Artistic Heritage Department was created during that time as well. Three main projects were carried out:
- Casa d’Areny-Plandolit. The house and the estate of the baron and syndic Guillem d’Areny-Plandolit (1822-1876), located at the heart of the town of Ordino, were sold to the Consell General in 1972. The spaces of this stately home are typical of a wealthy middle-class family, the owners of a nobility title and of one of the forges of Andorra. The house was restored and conditioned to show a very particular and uncommon way of life in Andorra: a middle-class life with lordly reminiscences in Pyrenean valleys between 1700 and 1900. The museum was inaugurated in 1985.
- The Postal Museum. This facility was created in 1982 for an exhibition about the history of the post in Andorra, and it was deemed opportune for it to be permanent. A commission made by representatives of the Andorran Government and of the Spanish and French post offices designed the first museum, which was first located in the attic of Casa de la Vall, the seat of the Andorran parliament. This small museum explained the creation of stamps and exhibited the Andorran stamps issued since 1860, as well as other materials in the images of the stamps. It also included a small room dedicated to numismatics where a collection of coins issued by the Episcopal vegueria was exhibited. The first Postal Museum was dismantled in 1991 due to the creation process of the Andorran Constitution, and opened again in 1998, inside the Era del Raser barn in Ordino. The Postal Museum originally used both floors, but since 2017 it only uses the upper floor, as the ground floor has been turned into a room for temporary exhibitions. The stamps collection is currently being digitalized.
- The National Automobile Museum. The idea of opening a cultural facility dedicated to the history of the automobile was born following negotiations between classic car owners and the Ministry of Education and Culture. The National Automobile Museum was inaugurated in 1987 in Encamp, as an exhibition of car collections, with about a hundred cars made between 1894 and the late 20th century, fifty motorcycles and a hundred bicycles. This collection is one of the most important in Europe.
From the late 1980s to the present time
Nurtured by a generation of Andorran graduates, the Ministry of Education and Culture redefined a new museum policy from the late 1980s onwards – and especially after 1994. Publications became prolific and the first temporary exhibitions about patrimonial themes were organised: Andorra arqueològica (“Archaeological Andorra”, 1985), Andorra medieval (1988), Joies de la prehistòria (“Prehistoric jewels”, 1992), Seure a taula (“Sitting at the table”, 1995), etc. These exhibitions all had a great media impact and attracted a never before seen number of visits from Andorran citizens. Therefore, these exhibitions and other patrimonial policies increased the interest for the national heritage and the need to increase the number of such initiatives.
Cultural policies started to evolve to match the vertiginous transformation of Andorran society itself.
Andorra became a member of the ICOM (International Council of Museums) in 1986, and it sparked a debate about the role of museums in the Pyrenean country, taking into account how they are one of the most active ways to explain, interpret and preserve the cultural and historical heritage of any community.
Casa de la Vall, which was still the seat of the Consell General at the time, was another facility that could be visited more or less often. In 1990, the Ministry of Education and Culture trained guides in order to offer free tours of the parliamentary seat.
The foundations of the Andorran museum system were laid in 1994, by establishing a network of existent museums, scattered throughout the territory, as fragments of a broader structure in order to link both their contents and narratives and to not duplicate them.
This system allows working on the different themes, in some cases in the shape of itineraries linked to a common core that will eventually evolve into an even greater infrastructure: the National Museum of Andorra.
These are the museums and monuments of that network that are currently open to the public:
- Casa de la Vall. A house built for the Busquets family in the year 1580, as indicated by the coat of arms atop the door. The old Consell de la Terra acquired it in 1702 and turned it into its seat. The structure of the house is similar to that of Catalan masies with stately elements. It was restored in 1962, thereby acquiring its current appearance. The ground floor contains the old Tribunal de Corts and the first floor contains the old meeting room of the Consell General, which functioned until the inauguration of the new parliamentary seat in 2011.
- Sanctuary of Meritxell. A symbol of the entire country. The current sanctuary, which was the work of architect Ricard Bofill, was inaugurated in 1976, following the 1972 fire that destroyed the original church. The old temple was rebuilt in 1994 to house the permanent exhibition Meritxell memòria, where the images of the memories, pilgrimages, ceremonies and objects coexist to transmit a living legacy in the collective memory of the Andorran people.
- Postal Museum. This room, located at the Era del Raser in Ordino, explains the history of the Andorran post system and how the French and Spanish post systems started to function in Andorra.
- Casa Rull de Sispony. This wealthy 17th-century house was inaugurated as a museum in the year 2000. Although it is devoid of any luxuries, this house represents the traditional Andorran society, in which the concepts of family and heritage become the main elements of social organisation. The museum has a workshop room for school students, an audiovisual room and a small shop.
- Farga Rossell. The Iron Interpretation Centre, which is the reconstruction of the old forge built by the Rossell family between 1842 and 1846 that functioned until 1876, was inaugurated in 2002. This museum explains the transformation process of iron ore into ingots and their subsequent commercialisation in Catalan markets. The tour includes a multimedia show in the old charcoal store, two educational audiovisuals in the workshop, a visit of the hydraulic infrastructure and an optional sledgehammer demonstration. This facility is part of the Iron Route in the Pyrenees and of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
- Espai Columba. The aim of this cultural facility, which was inaugurated in 2019, is to guard, preserve and present the original 12th-century mural paintings of the apse of the church of Santa Coloma, as well as various liturgical objects from Andorran churches. Most of the objects were recovered from the Andorra Romànica Interpretation Centre, which was inaugurated in 2006 in Pal and closed in 2019 due to the inauguration of Espai Columba. The museum is completed with a tour to the church of Santa Coloma, where the visitor will experience a video mapping projection recreating the original interior of the church and showing its approximate 12th-century original appearance.
- Casa d’Areny-Plandolit. The house of the Areny-Plandolit was inaugurated as a museum in 1985, and shows the way of life of a wealthy middle-class family in the Pyrenean valleys between the 18th and 20th centuries.
- National Automobile Museum. It was inaugurated in 1897 with a hundred vehicles from private collections, although the building is not adapted to the needs of a museum. The Ministry of Culture has already approved the project for the new museum, which will also be built in Encamp, in front of the historical Hotel Rosaleda, the current seat of the Ministry of Culture. The important bicycle collection will be moved to the future Bicycle Museum prepared by the Comú of Andorra la Vella.
This museum network is completed by a parallel network made of private museums, as well as others managed by local administrations and even jointly by both public and private administrations. These constitute a wide cultural offer.
- Casa Cristo. Inaugurated in 1995, this museum show the way of life of the humblest families. This house-museum transports the visitor to a humble peasant house from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is managed by the Comú of Encamp.
- Miniature Museum. Inaugurated in 1996, this private museum houses micro miniatures handmade by Nikolai Syadristy with noble materials such as gold and platinum, as well as more common materials such as paper, fruit seeds or rice grains.
- Fàbrica Reig. Inaugurated in 2003 as the Tobacco Museum, Antiga Fàbrica Reig, this private infrastructure explains the many processes undergone by tobacco in its manufacture and subsequent commercialisation. The Reig factory functioned from 1909 to 1957. Furthermore, it is equipped with a wide area for quality temporary exhibitions. On January 9th 2021 the museum closed its doors and became a virtual museum. The museum closed its doors in 2022.
- Perfume Museum. The private Perfume Museum – Júlia Bonet Foundation, inaugurated in 2004, collects the stories and sensations of thousands of essences from all time periods; an infrastructure born from its founder’s activity and love for collecting. The museum closed its doors in 2021.
- Motorcycle Museum. Also known as the “Museum of the Two Wheels” (Museu de les Dues Rodes), this infrastructure was inaugurated in 2005 in front of the church of Sant Joan de Caselles. It is dedicated to the world of motorcycles and is also made of many private collections. At the end of 2021, the museum moved to the Cable Car building (Edifici del Telecabina).
- Escaldes-Engordany Art Centre. This historical building, built by the monks of Montserrat, houses a wide collection of miniature models of Romanesque churches, as well as a collection of sculptures by Josep Viladomat since 2005. The CAEE also has a dynamic room for temporary exhibitions and offers a cultural programming with activities for all publics. It is managed by the Comú of Escaldes-Engordany.
- Santa Eulàlia Sacred Art Museum. Located inside a building attached to the parochial church of Santa Eulàlia d’Encamp, this museum houses many liturgical objects, some of which were found during the renovation of the church. It is managed by the Comú of Encamp.
- Centre de Natura de la Cortinada. Des del 2007, l’equipament, situat a la masoveria de la casa Rossell de la Cortinada, acull l’exposició permanent sobre la formació dels Pirineus i els fenòmens climatològics que han modelat el paisatge andorrà, i la fauna i flora del país. De gestió mixta (del Govern i el Comú d’Ordino), se’n prepara el trasllat a Ordino.
- MW Electricity Museum. This space was inaugurated in 2009 with the aim of transmitting knowledge and introducing visitors to the history of electricity in Andorra. This infrastructure is located in the ground floor of the hydroelectric plant of Forces Elèctriques d’Andorra (FEDA), which started to function in 1934 (back when it was still FHASA). It also houses temporary exhibitions.
- La Margineda Archaeological Site . Inaugurated in the summer of 2012, this site is the result of six excavation campaigns that have uncovered one of the most important medieval sites ever documented in Andorra. It has mixed management and opens during the summer.
- Llorts Mine. The Llorts iron mine allows us to discover the iron work that took place in Andorra between the 17th and 19th centuries, during which this activity was one of the main sources of income in the country. The mine is currently open to the public during the summer season; it is managed by the Comú of Ordino.
- Cal Pal mill and sawmill. Located in la Cortinada, next to the river, they are a clear example of the active past of the valley of Ordino. They date from the late 16th and early 17th centuries as part of the estate of Cal Pal, and they stopped working around the 1960s. They are now managed by the Comú of Ordino and are only open during the summer.
- Comapedrosa Interpretation Centre. This equipment, managed by the Comú of la Massana and inaugurated in Arinsal in 2015, offers a vision on the flora, fauna and geomorphology of the Comapedrosa Natural Park through explanatory panels. It also shows the evolution of the park throughout the seasons through an audiovisual, as well as various hiking routes.
- Carmen Thyssen Andorra Museum. Inaugurated in March 2017 in the ground floor of the iconic Hostal Valira, this museum organises temporary exhibitions on a yearly basis, with pieces coming from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, one of the most important private collections in the world. It is managed by Museu Andorra Foundation, consisting of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, the Andorran Government and the Comú of Escaldes-Engordany.
- Cal Pal de la Cortinada. Documented since 1347, this house has been restored by its owners, the Reig family, and was opened in 2018 as a socio-cultural space. Cal Pal houses temporary exhibitions, the first of which has been Primera pedra (“First stone”) by Jordi Fulla (1967-2019), dedicated to dry stone.
- Museu La Massana Còmic − Joan Pieras. In 2019, the Comú of la Masanna decided to boost and promote this space dedicated to comics, which has housed the La Massana Còmic Salon for 23 years. It is managed by the Comic, Illustration and Animation Association, and its goal is to preserve and promote its important graphic and bibliographic collection, as well as to organise temporary exhibitions, workshops and activities related to comics, illustration and animation.
The museum network is a reflection of the life of the community. Andorran museums are a product of their time; they interpret the territory and the factors that have conditioned its identity, as well as the feeling of belonging to a community that has undergone a great transformation since the 1950s.
2017-2023 strategic plan for the Andorran museums
The goal of the 2017-2023 strategic plan for the Andorran museums is to analyse the current situation and offer short and medium-term courses of action for the museums managed by the Andorran Government. It contemplates many courses of action to contribute to the transformation of these facilities into the backbones of cultural development policies and to help them become touristic facilities that will attract visitors to our territory, offer a quality discourse and build loyalty with a public interested in culture.
The findings of the conducted research are the starting point of other specific plans of action, such as the analysis of the collections (both public and private), an estimate of expenditure and investment in the following years, a study on the application of a future National Museum or an integral management plan for the cultural heritage. Together, these will complete the general vision that will structure the heritage and museum framework of Andorra. Another one of its goals is to increase the cultural and economic impact of the Andorran museums on the national population and tourism.
The strategic plan aligns with the cultural policies of the Ministry of Culture, and aims at preserving, increasing and guaranteeing the access to national collections, optimising the human resources of the museums, as well as improving the technical and professional abilities of its workers to guarantee a quality service and diffusion, thereby favouring an autonomous management.
The document also includes the possibility of increasing the budget of the museums, both for the development of the actions established in the Plan as well as for their subsequent maintenance, as well as to deploy and incorporate new technologies both on the discourse and management of the museums. Furthermore, the Plan also highlights the need to promote and encourage the educational role of the museums, as well as to strengthen their presence in curricular and educational programs.
The Plan also offers short, medium and long-term measures to ensure the promotion and diffusion of the museums. It also establishes regulations for the creation of new museums, to ensure the security and preservation of the collections, as well as the needed staffing to develop the various courses of action and to offer continuity to the evolution of future strategic plans.
To conclude, the strategic Plan for the Andorran museums makes a series of propositions to be put into action between 2017 and 2023, a series of prioritized and planned actions that require the effort and commitment of the political and cultural agents involved. These commitments include: the updating and creation of new discourses; the rethinking of the presentation of the new collections; a comprehensive digital strategy; enabling the museums to become catalysers for new cultural products; a tour strategy; building on the assessment of the public; deploying regulations for the museums; professionalizing services; developing international collaboration projects and, finally, the conception of a future National Museum.
National Museums of Andorra
Historical Ensemble of Meritxell
Iron Route: guidebook
Iron Route: activities
La farga Rossell
Andorra Tourist Bus – 4 languages
Another look is possible
Strategic plan for the Andorran Museums
Santa Coloma: the origins – video mapping
The Iron Route in the Pyrenees
Registering a vehicle in the Collection of the National Automobile Museum
A car must be at least 25 years old to be eligible for its inclusion in the Collection of the National Automobile Museum. If its age is unknown, one must refer to the date of its first registration, and if that date is unknown as well, to the date when the type or variation ceased to be built.
Vehicles with an Andorran license plate
The owner of the vehicle must submit the application for the registration of the car in the Collection of the National Automobile Museum at the Procedures Department (Servei de Tràmits) of the Andorran Government, along with the following documents:
- A 10x15 cm photograph of every side of the vehicle in physical format (four in the case of cars and two in the case of motorcycles).
- A dossier with the peculiarities of the vehicle, if needed.
- The certificate of the current roadworthiness test (ITV), if applicable.
- Once the application has been reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Department, an inspection of the car will be scheduled with the owner by the Technical Commission of the National Automobile Museum, which meets once a month (except for the month of August). [Please note: cars will only be inspected if their applications have been submitted prior to the Friday before the meeting of the Commission.]
- Once the vehicle has been deemed suitable or not for its registration to the Collection of the National Automobile Museum, the applicant must collect the administrative resolution at the Procedures Department of the Andorran Government (Servei de Tràmits) within a week following the date of the inspection.
Imported limited series vehicles – less than 25 years old
In the case of imported vehicles that are less than 25 years old, the following documents must be included:
- The technical datasheet of the vehicle or the registration certificate.
- The original certificate by the manufacturer proving that the car is part of a limited series.
- A dossier describing the historical and technical peculiarities of the vehicle with documents to prove it (for example: limited series, exclusive or limited models, a vehicle owned by a relevant personality, participation in a historically significant event, etc.).
- In the case of racing vehicles, a dossier with the record book or the participation in the various competitions with documents to prove it. The owner will be able to collect the administrative resolution declaring the vehicle as part of the Collection of the National Automobile Museum at the Procedures Department of the Andorran Govern (Servei de Tràmits).
Evaluation criteria of the Technical Commission for the vehicles aspiring to be part of Collection of the National Automobile Museum.
- Its conservation state must be excellent. One must make the distinction between an old, well-preserved vehicle and a vehicle with a perfect engine, body, upholstery, interior, accessories and functioning, ready to be exhibited in a museum. Museum vehicles are those that, despite not being considered classic cars, have a series of mechanic, aesthetic, technical, artistic, historic, production or other types of characteristics likening them to classic cars for exhibition purposes (article 48 of the April 10th 1999 Law on Traffic Regulations).
- Authenticity. Vehicle pieces must have been manufactured within the normal production period of the type or variant in question. As for replacements, except for consumable elements replaced by reproductions or equivalent pieces following the normal production period, they must be unequivocally identified. If its structure or components have been modified, the Technical Comission will evaluate the inclusion of the vehicle in the Collection of the National Automobile Museum.
- Historical vehicles and vehicles that are part of the historical evolution of Andorra. They can be included in the General inventory of movable goods of the cultural heritage of Andorra.
- Singular vehicles. Vehicles with a special interest for Andorra, linked to a historical event, owned by a relevant personality, part of a limited series or interesting because of any other relevant circumstances: technical, artistic, historical or production reasons or any other granting the vehicle a status comparable to that of a classic car for exhibition purposes (article 1.48 of the April 10th 1999 Law on Traffic Regulations).
Rights and obligations
Vehicles accepted by the Technical Commission and registered in the Collection of the National Automobile Museum are subject to the following rights and obligations:
- Being exempt of paying the tax on the ownership of vehicles, from the following year onward, in accordance with article 2.1 of the April 5th 1994 Law on the tax on the ownership of vehicles.
- A biennial frequency for the roadworthiness evaluation from the following year to the registration in the Collection onward, in accordance with article 167.7, section G, of the Traffic Regulations.
- The vehicle may be required by the Ministry of Culture or the Cultural Heritage Department for an exhibition at the museum, in exhibitions or events related to the National Automobile Museum or the Cultural Heritage Department; the duration of the exhibition and the needed insurance will be established in agreement with the owner.
- The owner of the vehicle must inform the Cultural Heritage Department in the case of its exportation or of a change of ownership.
Please consult the technical datasheet for the registration to the Collection of the National Automobile Museum for more information.
Request for filming and photo shoots in the museums and monuments
If you wish to conduct a filming or a photo shoot inside the museums and monuments managed by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, you must first make a request through this form and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org least two business days in advance.
Most museums, like all national monuments, are located in historic and singular spaces. If you wish to organise an event in any of those spaces, you must make a previous reservation through this form and submit it to the following address: email@example.com. The Museums and Monuments Section will contact you to discuss the specificities and budget of the event you wish to organise.
Request for key loaning
In the event of a tourist visit, the keys to some of the Romanesque monuments managed by the Andorran Government (Sant Martí de la Cortinada, Sant Romà de les Bons, Sant Miquel d’Engolasters and Sant Serni de Nagol) are made available by the Ministry of Culture and Sports to the accredited guides having passed the Qualification course for tourist guides, as well as members of the Association of Tourist Guides.
You can make a reservation for the keys through this form and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org at least two business days in advance.
Tourist guide qualification course
The Cultural guide course was born as a training course for people wishing to work in Andorran museums and monuments during the summer season. The course combines theory and practice so as to give students the required knowledge to perform their tasks in the best conditions.
From 2018 onward, the Cultural guide course has become part of the Tourist guide qualification course, and has evolved to include more content and offer a global and integrating view of the tourist offer of Andorra, among other aspects.
The course consists of eight modules (than can be studied separately):
- Module 1: Good professional practices: the knowledge, know-how and interpersonal skills of a tourist guide.
- Module 2: Tourism in Andorra.
- Module 3: Cultural heritage in Andorra (formerly the Cultural guide course).
- Module 4: Natural heritage in Andorra.
- Module 5: Tourist offer and products in Andorra.
- Module 6: Designing specific itineraries.
- Module 7: Communication and stimulation techniques for tourist groups.
- Module 8: First-aid course.
Work with us
Do you want to be a part of the team of the Museums and Monuments Department of the Andorran Ministry of Culture?
Keep an eye on the announcements of the Butlletí Oficial del Principat d’Andorra (BOPA).
Please consult the required training to submit your application to the work offers of the Department.
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive more information of the Museums and Monuments Department, including work offers.
The PassMuseu is a passport that will allow you to discover the museum offer of Andorra in an easy, economic and interesting way.
The passport has a cost of €2.5 and gives you 50% off in the admission of three museums of your choice among most of the museums of the country.
This product can be acquired both in the museums and the tourist offices.
- Motorcycle Museum
- Casa Cristo Ethnographic Museum
- Sacred Art Museum
- National Automobile Museum
- MW Electricity Museum
- Postal Museum
- Casa d’ArenyPlandolit Museum
- Cal Pal Sociocultural Space
- Cal Pal Mill and Sawmill
- Miniature Museum
- Farga Rossell Iron Interpretation Centre
- Casa Rull Museum
- La Massana Còmic Museum
- Dèria. Collecting space.
- Comapedrosa Interpretation Centre (CIC)
- Casa de la Vall
- Espai Columba
- Fàbrica Reig Museum
- EscaldesEngordany Art Centre (CAEE)
- Carmen Thyssen Andorra Museum
- Perfume Museum
Behind closed doors
Behind closed doors is a series of short informational videos offering bits of museum history through its objects, spaces or other related stories.
Please note: the videos are in Catalan.