St. George Icon Museum – Ordino, Andorra - Atlas Obscura
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Ordino, Andorra

St. George Icon Museum

Extensive Orthodox icon collection in Andorra. 

Andorra, a remote European microstate situated between Spain and France in the eastern Pyrenees mountains, has strong historic ties to the Catholic Church. Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for fighting against the Moors. Today, the Catalan Bishop holds the (largely ceremonial) post of co-prince. The population of Andorra (roughly 83,000) is predominantly Roman Catholic. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, French, and Portuguese are also commonly spoken.

Considering its strong Catholic identity, it is surprising to find an extensive Eastern Orthodox icon collection in Andorra. Andorra’s remoteness has left it free of external influence, outside of France and Spain, its two immediate neighbors. The only tenuous connection between Andorra and Eastern Orthodoxy was the rule of Boris Skossyreff, a White Russian émigré. Skossyreff proclaimed himself King Boris I of Andorra in 1934. His reign lasted six days, until he was arrested and deported by Spanish authorities.

The town of Ordino is home to the St. George’s Museum (Museu Sant Jordi). It is one of three Western museums that focus specifically on iconography. The museum started out as a private collection, but is now open to the public. It houses Orthodox icons from Ukraine, Russia, Greece, and Bulgaria from the 14th to 19th centuries. Approximately 100 icons are on display in three galleries. The icons include images of the Virgin, St. George, and other saints. The collection also includes 70 polychrome wood statues of Christ from Spanish schools in the 11th to 19th centuries.

The museum contains a documentary library, as well as an audiovisual exhibition highlighting the places of origin of icons in the collection and the main cathedrals of the Orthodox Church.