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The Temple (new sanctuary)

The church of the Shrine of Meritxell (the new church) has the title and the honor of “Minor Basilica”. It was recently granted by Pope Francis. The title of Minor Basilica is a distinction that is given by the Pope to those churches that according to their history, culture, as well as their liturgical and pastoral life, are especially significant. This recognition adds more value to the most important cult complex in the Principality.

In 1972, during the night of September 9th and just a few hours after the celebration the holiday in honor of the Virgin of Meritxell, a fire destroyed the sanctuary (building, altar pieces, paintings, the carving of the virgin, as well as other objects). The only part that remained standing was a section of the church façade and some other walls. That very same day, the 'General Board' decided that the sanctuary had to be built again from scratch.
Nuevo santuario

The construction of the new building was put in charge of Ricard Bofill architectural firm. In the project participated Ricard Bofill and his disciples Mariona Ridaura y Stéphanie Sansa.  The architects Moragues y Bohigas-Martorell-Mackay were also taken into consideration for the design of the new complex.

There was a request made to architect Bofill. The project had to transmit greatness, monumentality and religious strength. The project was based on three pillars: faith, identity and culture. All those concepts had to be integrated in the scenery, while being at the service of religion and culture. The original project included a great complex with buildings and elements that in the end were not erected.

The current building was inaugurated in 1976. It is a design of a modern sanctuary of eclectic conception, as some scholars pointed out, its construction reminds of constructions of other times.  For some of these specialists, the bell tower looks similar to the ones present in many medieval monasteries in Southeast Europe. Also they find similarities with the Islamic (i.e.: the great visible openings present in the sanctuary, as well as by the presence of water in the cloister of mirrors). 
These two factors strengthen the attempt to establish a harmony between the work of men with the surrounding area. On the other hand, the great white stone and slate arcs remind the ones left after the fire and that were part of the old church.

Nuevo santuarioHowever, the interpretation made from the architect studio, adapting to the new builing the Pyrenean architectonical past is the result of the 'interpretation of the Romanesque architecture theoretic principals within a modern design'.

Inside the church, at the end, you can find the reproduction of the Romanesque carving of the Virgin of Meritxell. It is a work of Sergi Mas; it was made following the cannons of the original Romanesque image burned in the fire.

Interior iglesia

The high Altar was placed in the center of the church. It has a circular shape.  On the top part, the visitor can see the statues of the seven Presiding Saints of the Andorran parishes. The presence of these saints in the temple remarks the importance of Meritxell as a National Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary of Meritxell complex has been declared of Cultural Interest for the Goverment of Andorra. Possibility of free guided tours from May to October (Reservations phone number: +376 726 109)