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Valira Torrent:   Contents | Subject index

Perforation image from Serif Art Gallery. © Serif Inc, 1996

Valira Torrent - bulletin of the Andorran Philatelic Study Circle. Issue 22, pp2-3 (Nov 1985).

Copyright notice

Historic Features of Andorra

by David Hope

Iron Forge

(French Bureau Europa 1983)

Forge Hammer For a number of centuries iron output was a very important source of revenue for Andorra. According to the book "Andorra for the Tourist" by A. and J. Puigoriol, Andorra possessed five forges set up to work the iron ore extracted from the mountains. These forges were equipped in the style of the Catalan forges of the Medieval period. Some of the great hammers weighed more than 500 kilos and were worked by hydraulic power at a rhythm of over a hundred blows a minute. (A hammer was shown on the French Bureau Europa 80c of 1976). Casa Plandolit The bellows employed for the furnaces and tempering of the ore were also worked by water power. With the introduction of modern production methods came the end of Andorran iron production. The forges and foundries of Andorra could not compete and they were closed down towards the end of the XIXth century. Remains can still be seen, for example, Farga d'en Rosell, situated on the Valira d'Ordino between Ordino and La Massana. The Casa Plandolit in Ordino (French Bureau 1983) has a balcony of wrought iron 18 metres long, whilst nearby Ordino church (Spanish Bureau 1948 definitives 50c & 90c) also has numerous pieces of fine forged ironwork. In the garden of the Casa Plandolit are two heavy power driven hammers from the Ordino forge which were brought there after the closure of the works.

XVIth Century Mill

(Spanish Bureau Europa 1983)

Water mill Andorra possesses a type of mill that is indigenous to the country. The mills have a simple mechanism with horizontal turbines. This system was possible because of the steepness of the land which ensured great water power. Each Andorran village had several mills, with canals made from hollowed tree trunks to guide the water, always set alongside the Valiras or other streams. In the past the use of the mills was decided by the Council of the Flour Mills which took place once a year. One such mill is situated near the Moles waterfall between Canillo and Soldeu. However, whether this is the one shown on the stamp I do not know.

Mountain Cheesery

(French Bureau Europa 1983)


These were made of slabs of stone and built into a kiln shape. Cheeses were made from ewes' milk by the shepherds during the summer. I have located only one on the map, and this is called L'Orri Vell. It is to be found between the Cortals d'Encamp and the Coll de la Devesa. Perhaps this is the one shown on the stamp?

Bordes de Mereig

(French Bureau 1981)

Bordes de Mereig These buildings are a kind of mountain farmhouse and are used seasonally. They are composed of a stable for the animals and a little "cabana" for the shepherds. The Bordes de Mereig are situated on the route from Canillo to the Coll d'Ordino. Some bordes also appear on the airmail values of the French Bureau 1961-64 issue showing the Incles valley. According to legend Noah landed his Ark on the Pic d'Ascobes and then loosed his starving flocks in the valley. He then built the first of these bordes! Bordes situated in the lower valleys serve a different purpose. They are usually built alongside fields or cultivated plots. Upstairs the grain or tobacco is stored whilst the animals are kept below whenever there is bad weather or the nights are too cold. These are often known as "cortals".

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Updated 4th September 1998