Nestled into the valley floor close to the southern border of Andorra and Spain, the unassuming resort town of Santa Coloma is not only a gateway to the extensive Vallenord ski area, it’s also home to an important part of Andorra’s religious and cultural history.
The Renowned Church of Santa Coloma
Against a dramatic backdrop of rugged peaks and sunny Andorran skies, the small but beautifully preserved 9th century Romanesque Church of Santa Coloma is one of the oldest in the country. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, the church has become an important cultural symbol and a well-loved and much-visited landmark of Andorra.
The intricate stonework exterior of the church has a unique appearance, unlike any other in Andorra. Having undergone many changes throughout its history, the church’s striking four-storey high circular bell tower – thought to have been added in the 12th century – makes an interesting aesthetic contrast to the broad 17th century timber portico. Created in the so-called Lombard style, although starting from a circular base, the bell tower changes shape as it rises 18 metres to the top.
Sacred History Held Within
Within the classically simple interior of the church there’s a very well preserved multi-coloured wooden icon of Our Lady of Mercy, dating back to the 12th century. Many of the original frescos from the interior of the church were removed in the 1930s and are now housed in the Cultural Museum of Berlin, although not part of any exhibition. During a restoration in 1934, an Agnus Dei was uncovered on the east wall and, along with the wooden icon of Our Lady and a Baroque retable, these are the most important and revered relics left intact.
There’s a free guided tour with commentary on both the interior and exterior points of interest that can be booked via the tourist office, or you’re free to simply wander around and enjoy the beauty and history of the church yourself.
When you’ve got skiing on your mind, it’s sometimes all too easy to forget to appreciate Andorra for merits other than the abundance and quality of the snow! Santa Coloma is a perfect example of a village that encourages visitors to enjoy the ambience and facilities of its modern ski resort status, while still holding firm to its deeply respected historical roots.
How to Get to Santa Coloma
While there are no airports in Andorra itself, its location means it’s a breeze to get to Santa Coloma from a number of airports in France or Spain. A range of budget UK airlines service Perpignan, Barcelona, Toulouse and Reus, from where you can count on us to get you the rest of the way! Shuttle Direct offers convenient Reus airport transfers direct to Santa Coloma, as well as services from other nearby airports. Using our shared or private transfers is definitely the most relaxing way to get to where you’re going, and you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the ride while our friendly drivers do all the work.
If you fly in to Spain and want to pick up a rental car to navigate the last part of the journey it’s certainly not hard. From the airport in Reus, jump on to the C14 motorway and head north until you hit the border, where you’ll then pick up the inbound access route to Andorra, the N145. Santa Coloma is situated in the southwest of Andorra, just a couple of kilometres from the capital, Andorra la Vella.
If you’re a lover of bus travel and you don’t mind a longer journey, there’s also a daily coach service to Andorra from both Toulouse and Barcelona airports. You’ll arrive into Andorra la Vella and then need to take a local connecting bus the short distance to Santa Coloma. You’ll have to check the frequency as timetables change seasonally, but the upside is there’s plenty to do in Andorra la Vella while you’re waiting!
Where to Stay:
Apartments Maragall – For cosy, comfortable self-catering accommodation, the studio apartments at Apartments Maragall offer everything you need to enjoy the wonderful ambience of the mountains. Simple, stylish and well equipped, each apartment features a kitchenette, free Wi-Fi, private bathroom with tub, and some have mountain views. There are bus connections to the slopes and the friendly staff will be happy to help with all your ski arrangements.
Hotel de L’Isard – Ideally located just 2.3km from Santa Coloma, with stunning views out to the surrounding mountains, the Hotel de L’Isard is a welcoming establishment with charm, character and excellent amenities. You can enjoy gourmet meals and fabulous views at the onsite restaurant, and there’s a cosy lounge with open fire to relax and exchange stories of the day’s skiing adventures.
Andorra Park Hotel – Luxuriously appointed, superbly positioned and with spectacular views of the mountains, the Andorra Park Hotel offers accommodation for the discerning guest. The faultless service is offset by the extensive onsite facilities, including a spa and sports centre with indoor pool. Rooms feature private balconies, Nespresso coffee machine, hydro-massage bathtub and your own comfy slippers and bathrobe. Just 2.2 km from Santa Coloma, the Andorra Park Hotel is the best of the best.