THE ANDORRANS CULTURAL BACKGROUND
Andorra’s ancient culture began with the Romans and was influenced by the region’s location close to several mountain passes leading to northern Europe. Over the centuries, Spain, Italy, and France played a strong part in its development into a primarily Catalonian area with Catalan its main language. Its most valued cultural asset is the long legacy of Romanic art, most visible in its 50 Romanesque churches and their interior murals and frescos, as well as in the displays in Andorran museums.
Music: Given the fondness of the Catalans for music[it may not be surprising to hear that Andorra has a Chamber Orchestra directed by the violinist Gérard Claret; and that it also stages a famous international singing contest supported by the Spanish singer Montserrat Caballé. In 2004, Andorra participated in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time. This attracted media attention from Catalonia, since it was the first song to be sung in Catalan. The song was eliminated in the semi-finals, and the 2005 and 2006 entries also met the same fateIn 2009 They were eliminated in the semi finals as well.
The single most important event in Andorran cultural life is the Escaldes-Engordany international jazz festival, where international stars such as Miles Davis, Fats Domino and B.B. King have taken part.
Dance: Typical dances, such as the marratxa and the contrapàs, are especially popular at feasts. Among famous feasts are the one honoring Sant Jordi, when books and roses are given as presents; the People’s feast, celebrating Saint John and the summer solstice, and the feast of Saint Stephen (Sant Esteve), patron saint of Andorra la Vella. Andorrans tend to celebrate their feasts gladly and loudly.
Religious Beliefs. Even though Andorra lacks a formal religion, Roman Catholicism is hegemonic. One fundamental element of this presence rests on the role of the bishop of Urgel as coprince and, at the same time, head of the Andorran Church. Apart from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are no public religious alternatives in Andorra.
Cuisine: Andorrans are passionate about the principality’s traditional cuisine, and local dishes play a major part in the many town and village festivals that take place throughout the year. Taking into account Andorra’s closeness to both Spain and France, it’s no surprise that its Catalan gastronomy shows influences in the food from both neighboring countries. The Andorran people adore their local restaurants as much as the chefs who own them and visiting foodies will be in heaven here.
Festivals in Andorra are traditionally based on the Catholic high holy days, although they are also strong on the cultural aspects of the principality’s long heritage and always feature folk dance and music. In addition, the state holds a major jazz festival, the Montserrat Caballe Singing Contest focused on opera, classical music concerts, and other similar events. Most festivals take place between May and October when getting around the country is easiest with nicer weather. Festivals are popular with visitors and focus on snow, food, and much more.