Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Andorra la Vella, Andorra: The Hidden Land with Two Princes - August 2017

Not the smallest country in Europe but quite possibly the most difficult to reach, Andorra is nestled in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. Only one road enters and exits the landlocked country into Spain and another connects the nation with France. Steep mountain slopes dominant the landscape, many dressed with steel netting to capture falling rock.

Nearly ten million visitors flock to Andorra annually to enjoy its ski slopes, natural beauty and duty-free shopping. It is also a tax haven which contributes to goods and services being significantly less expensive than in other parts of the world. The microstate of Andorra is a member of the European Union and uses the euro as currency, but is not a member of the Schengen agreement and therefore provides refuge for visa-constrained travelers.

Andorra is the world's only co-principality partially governed by two princes: the president of France and the Catholic bishop of Urgell in Spain. Throughout the country many villages are perched atop mountains and others carved into rock faces, but the capital city of Andorra la Vella lies in a valley not far from the Spanish border. Andorra la Vella sits at the highest altitude of any capital in Europe and is fragmented by the flow of the country's largest river, the Gran Valira.

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