January 7, 2013

0062, 0451 ANDORRA - Romanesque churches of Andorra (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

Posted on 06.12.2011, 07.01.2013
It is known, the buffer zones located between the great powers were constantly exposed to invasions and excesses of all kinds. Principality of Andorra is a rare and happy exception, its borders remaining virtually unchanged since 1278, when the conflict between Count of Foix and the Bishop of La Seu d'Urgell was resolved by the signing of a paréage, which provided that its sovereignty will be shared between these two. Naturally, the period which preceded this agreement (between 9th and 13th centuries) was one intense from political point of view, but also artistic. Among the major achievements of this period are several Romanesque churches, eight of them being included on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Sant Miquel d'Engolasters church (the first postcard),built before the 12th century in a strategic spot with a fabulous panoramic view out over the capital Andorra la Vella, the church invites visitors to head to Engolasters Lake or the valley of Madriu-Perafita-Claror, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. The rectangular design houses a nave, a semi-circular apse, a gable roof, a belfry and a later arcade porch. The building is characterised by the disproportion between the nave and the 17m high belfry. The top floor of the belfry preserves one of the few Romanesque sculptural pieces in Andorra - carved heads in the centre of the double window arches - and the interior houses reproductions of the Romanesque mural paintings by the master artist of Santa Coloma (12th century), now held by the National Art Museum of Catalonia.

Sant Joan de Caselles church (on the second postcard) was built in the 11-12th centuries, in Canillo, of course in Romanesque style, but there isn't too many information about its history. The temple of the church has a single nave rectangular, tall and simple, with semicircular apse east built after the ship. On the north side of the nave rises its quadrangular belfry, with three levels of windows, the upper two geminate, decorated with bands and blind arcades in Lombard style. Originally it was independent of the rest of the temple, which makes it unique in Principality. The gateway to the interior is placed on the north side of the nave, because the south side of the temple, where it should be opened, stands on a cliff that falls directly on the river Valira de Oriente. Inside the building are preserved various art pieces, as the stucco of Christ in Majesty, framed by a wall with frescoes depicting scenes of Calvary (from 12th century), and a Gothic altarpiece early 16th century and attributed to the Master of Canillo.

About the stamps
On the first postcard
The special status of Andorra extends also to postal services: they are not operated by the Principality itself, but by Spain (Correos) and France (La Poste). Spanish post boxes are red and French ones are yellow. Both postal administrations issue their own postage stamps for use in Andorra - those of Spain and France aren’t valid. Because that on the postcard is Spanish, means that it reached in a red box.

To celebrate the International Year of Forests, the theme for PostEurop’s postage stamps for 2011 is trees and forests. Europa stamps have been produced by many European countries, and about one of the series, issued by Iceland Post, I wrote here. The stamp on the postcard which I received, issued on April 4,  depicted conifer trees in the Pyrenees (Bosc de Sorobilles - Ordino).

On the second postcard

The first stamp is the one issued on November 5, 2012 for the Christmas, depicting a painting by E. Rodriguez, entitled La reveilla de Nadal (The Christmas' Eve).

The second is the one presented by Andorra on Europa stamps 2012, with the theme Visit...

Andorra - Wikipedia 
Church of Sant Miquel d’Engolasters - Visit Andorra
Church of Sant Joan de Caselles - Visit Andorra

sender 1, 2: Fabienne (direct swap)
1: sent from Andorra, on 28.11.2011
2: sent from Andorra, on 20.12.2012 

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