Andorra and Saint Macarius

   A long time ago, the highway turned into the main street and even in a walking path and avenue during the holidays. That is where there is life, the Andorran life, with its visage to the exterior. However, the town, the village, is above, as a pleasant surprise given to visitors. The streets and squares are decorated with pots that are filled with flowers during the spring. Abundant are the picturesque corners as well as the stale buildings of Aragonese style. The town – that is a village – is very well kept; houses gradually gain height, as if they were looking towards the mountain of where the chapel of Saint Macarius is, the patron saint.

   “In the chapel Saint Macarius there is a broken window, where up to heaven, the sounds of the jota folklore goes”.

    There is an old Andorra, which preserves the lineage of yesteryear, but there is also a modern Andorra. The two of them, and often mistaken for each other, make up the future of lower Aragon, the economic center of the region.

    Its origin goes back to the mid twelfth century, when Andorra belonged to Albalate of the Archbishop. The Albalatinians created the Masadicas Royas, pastoral houses that later on would become a very important populated nucleus. At the time, the pastures made up their major source of wealth. Shepherds from all regions would gather there. It was a time of seasonal migration. The patronage of Saint Macarius Abad comes from, according to some, the valley of Andorra, the current principality.

    -A shepherd from that valley brought here the devotion of Saint Macarius.

    Did Andorra take its name from the principality once it was placed under the patronage of Saint Macarius? Opinions do not always coincide here, since there are historians that have chosen to avail the etymology of the word to discover what may be a more logical and realistic origin, regardless of the legends: Andorra is a word of Celtic origin, meaning "Door of the Winds".

    In principle, Arabs dominated the region until 1149, when Albalate and Andorra were re-conquered by King Berenguer IV. Later in 1238, the Andorrians distinguished themselves in conquering Valencia, reason for which James I “the Conqueror” conceded his population, after village, the title of “very noble”.

    The dependence of Albalate of Archbishop lasted until 1613. The all-embracing and full civil and criminal jurisdiction, the high and low justice and the authentic yet mixed empire was passed on to Andorra in the hands of Don Pedro Manrique, Archbishop of Zaragoza. The Decree was dated 20 March of that same year, and was then confirmed six months later, on 21 September, by King Phillip III.

    The parish church powerfully draws one’s attention. Its main facade overwhelms due to its grandeur, and because it is made up of the three classic architectural orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.

    The indicating arrows are like an invitation to Saint Macarius. The access is very good. One slightly exceeds the height of the buildings and Andorra becomes a symphony of roofs. Half way through, there is the Chapel of Pilar, the most antique of the population, since it was created during the second half of the twelfth century.

   Both from the front facade and the lateral rosettes one can distinguish the Gothic style with Levantine influences. That is from where the entire population is dominated. The remains of the old castle are close by, as well as those of the old cemetery.

    Up on top, challenging the scenery, is Saint Macarius crowned by the chapel that bears its name. The first constructions seem to have taken place in the seventeenth century, although there have been other constructions and renovations from previous periods. The courtyard has its charm even behind its simplicity. Some cypress trees provide a path towards the front door. Without renouncing the past – let alone history and art – but depending on it, Andorra has become an economic center of the entire region.

    To the beat of the drum and bass drum, the jota folk dance emits special echoes. Andorra is a musician of jota par excellence, a land of singers and dancers. José Iranzo, known as “the Shepherd of Andorra”, has travelled the world singing the jota.

    Alfonso Zapater    Esta tierra nuestra II . Adaptación

Instructions: Press one of the buttons with the letters a, b, c. Put the correct letter in red.



1.- The main street emerged from:

a) The picturesque corners.

b) The highway.

c) The hillside. 


2.- Andorra is:

a) A village.

b) A town. 

c) A capital.


3.- The patron saint of Andorra is:

a) Saint Joseph.

b) Saint Barbara.  

c) Saint Macarius.  


4.- The most Antique chapel of Andorra is: 

a) The Chapel of Pilar.

b) The Chapel of Saint Macarius.

c) The Chapel of Saint Anthony.  


5.- The Chapel of Saint Macarius was built in:  

a) The twelfth century.

b) The fifteenth century.   

c) The seventeenth century.  


6.- The Chapel of Pilar was built in:

a) The fifteenth century.

b) The twelfth century. 

c) The seventeenth century.  


7.- The village of Andorra is:

a) The most beautiful of Aragon.

b) The cultural center of the region.

c) The economic center of the region. 


8.- Originally, Andorra belonged to: 

a) Teruel.

b) Zaragosa.  

c) Albalate of the Archbishop.


9.- Who brought the devotion of Saint Macarius to Andorra?  

a) The farmers of the Masadicas Royas.

b) A shepherd of the principality of Andorra. 

c) The legends.  


10.- The parish church calls attention because of its:  

a) The bell tower.

b) The stained glass windows.

c) The magnificence of its facade.  



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®Arturo Ramo García.-Record of intellectual property of Teruel (Spain) No 141, of 29-IX-1999
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