Church of Santa Coloma d'Andorra
Andorra is rich with medieval churches and the oldest one is the Church of Santa Coloma d'Andorra, which was constructed between the 8th and 9th centuries.
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For more than one millennia Andorra historically has been a small rural and mundane state.
In medieval times it was an important centre of commerce and the gem of Andorran culture with its 30 pre-Romanesque and Romanesque churches, all of them small rural churches which often contained major art values.
It is not known with certainty when the oldest of these churches, the Church of Santa Coloma d'Andorra, was built, but most likely it took place in the time period between the 8th and 9th centuries. This church was first mentioned in written sources in 1040.
Church Of Santa Coloma D'Andorra
Initially it was a simple, square building with an apse built from local stone and covered by a slate roof on a wooden frame. Later in the 12th century an impressive bell tower was built at the southern wall near the apse.
This structure is 17.67 m tall and is a good representative of the Lombardy Romanesque style, e.g. with Italian influence. The base of the tower is circular but the shape changes with each of the four floors. Each floor has windows, the first floor has two and the other floors have four, adorned with fine Lombard arches.
Under the roof there are sculptures of two human heads. There are also remains of medieval murals seen in the upper floors.
Sometime between the 16th and 18th century a porch was added at the southern wall.
Since 1999 this church along with other nearby cultural landmarks has been on the waiting list (Tentative List) for UNESCO World Heritage status. The small, homely church is a rather popular visitor attraction. Every year festivities are held there at the end of August.
Church Of Santa Coloma D'Andorra With Andorra La Vella In The Background
During the 12th century the interior of the church was adorned with fine murals making the church of Santa Coloma one of the most beautiful ones in Andorra.
The paintings depicted the apocalyptic vision, Christ surrounded by tetramorph and apostles represented with narrow shoulders, long necks, small heads and large eyes. The murals were created by a Master of Sant Coloma, an important artist who also created the murals in the Church of Sant Romà de les Bons.
During the early 20th century the condition of the murals had deteriorated and in 1932 the Bishop of Urgell sold them to an art dealer in Barcelona.
The murals were removed from the church in 1933. Later they were acquired by a French collector who sold them to German Baron von Dorn. He was of Jewish origin and thus, as Nazis came at power, his art collections were confiscated and the Andorrese murals were placed in one of the State Museums in Berlin.
Painting Of Agnus Dei In Santa Coloma Church
These art values were in Germany until 2007 when they were returned to the Government Exhibition Hall in Andorra.
The state of Andorra paid 4 million EUR for this and the price includes restoration, which was done in Germany. But, happily, not all of the murals were taken away. During the restoration in 1934, a mural was found which shows Agnus Dei flanked by two angels, as well as decorative elements around the arch.
Virgin Of Remediation
Virgin Of Remediation In Santa Coloma Church
A wooden polychrome sculpture of the Virgin of Remediation from the 13th century is located in the church. The Virgin of Remediation is a title of the Virgin Mary, which is popular in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America.
A fine retable in Baroque style from 1741 is also located in the church.
Coordinates: 42.4942 N 1.4975 E
No: 494 (list of all attractions)
Values: Art, Architecture, History
Address: Europe, Andorra, Andorra la Vella, some 2.5 km south-west from the centre of Andorra la Vella in Sant Coloma village, at the right bank of Valira River
Name in Catalan: Santa Coloma d'Andorra
Architectural style: pre-Romanesque, Lombardy Romanesque
Year of construction: in the time period between the 8th and early 9th centuries
Branch of Christianity: Catholics
Height: 17.67 m