The centuries-old Catalonian culture of Andorra is versatile with traditions and shares great figures in all areas of its cultural life and identity. El Gran Carlemany became the national anthem of Andorra in September 1914, which is the feast day of Our Lady of Meritxell, the patron saint of Andorra.
Michele Gazier and Ramon Villero are two famous Catalonian writers from Andorra, as well as Ricard Fiter, who is also the principality’s ombudsman (representative of public complaints). Written culture of Andorra can be traced back to such writers as Antoni Fiter I Rossell, from the Ordino parish, who wrote the Digest manual de las valls neutras de Andorra (digest manual) in 1748, which describes the feudal historical and legal setting of Andorra.
Andorra boasts the Young National Orchestra of Cambra d’Andorra, directed by the violinist Gerard Claret, and also hosts the Montserrat Caballé international singing contest. Andorra took part in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 2004, which attracted the media of Catalonia because it was the first song that was sung in Catalan. The most significant event in the cultural life of Andorra is the Escaldes-Engordany International Jazz Festival, which has featured such international stars as Fats Domino, Miles Davis and B.B. King. Another popular festival in the country is the ChamJam Music Festival.
Folk dancing is a long-standing tradition in Andorra, including the marratxa and contrapas dances, which are popular at such feasts as the Feast of St Jordi, where roses and books are given as presents; the People’s Feast, which celebrates St John and the summer solstice; and the Feast of St Stephen, the patron St of Andorra la Vella. The marratxa and contrapas dances are particularly popular in St Julia de Loria and Andorra La Vella, respectively. Most all folkdances are Catalan in character, seen especially in such dances as the Sardana and St Anne’s Dance, in Escaldes-Engordany.
Andorra has developed in the area of mass media with two daily newspapers published, El Periodic and Diari D’Andorra, and television broadcasted by the public ATV. The two popular radio stations are the public supported Radio Nacional d’Andorra and the commercial RadioValira. Radio Nacional d”Andorra operates the music stations Andorra Musica and Radio Andorra. The country’s galleries explore Andorra’s prehistory and Romanesque history, as well as 20th-century international art and exhibitions from Andorran painters and photo displays.
Churches, chapels and bell towers are scattered throughout the mountains of Andorra, showcasing such impressive architecture from the Santa Coloma Church, with its cylindrical bell tower; the bell tower of the Encamp church; the church of Sant Joan de Caselles, with its rustic atmosphere; and the tiny chapels of Les Bons and Sant Cerni. The churches boast prime examples of Gothic art in decorated altarpieces and polychrome wood carvings of the Virgin Mary. The most impressive Gothic-style buildings are found in the seat of the Counsel General (Parliament), Casa de la Vall and the museum Casa d’Areny Plandolit, in Ordino.