Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley - UNESCO World Heritage Site In Andorra



The Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is a cultural landscape covering 4,247 hectares of land area in the southeastern region of the nation of Andorra, and occupies 9 percent of the country. The valley is dotted with glacial landscapes of rocky cliffs and glaciers, with high open pastures, and steep wooded valleys. There is also a 4,092 hectare protective buffer zone, surrounding the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. The upper part of the valley has an exposed glacial landscape, with stunning steep cliffs, rock, and lake glaciers. On the lower region, the valley narrows and becomes more wooded, while at its lowest section a river flows into a short gorge. Madriu, the primary valley, merges with Perafita-Claror, the secondary valley, from the southwest side.

Historical Significance

At a snapshot, the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley reflects how an ancient communal system of land management has survived over 700 years. It doesn’t have any urban related pressures that can dent its middle age authenticity as it’s historically preserved. The Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley depicts ways humans harvested mountain resources over the past millennia. It also reveals historical changes in climate, economic fortune, social structures, persistence of pastoralism, strong mountain culture, and notably the survival of a communal land ownership system, from the 13th Century, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Madriu-Perafita-Claror also depicts the persistence of ancient communal land management system, overseen by the four communities owning the land. The valley has houses, summer settlements, terraced fields, stone tracks and evidence of iron smelting activities of the past.

Current Condition of the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Region

The Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is the only region in the country without roads. It is dotted with various agro-pastoral complexes in the high mountains, agricultural centers in mid-mountain areas, a communication system with a network of partially paved trails, and relic steel-making artifacts of the past, such as the Catalan Forge. There also are restored shepherds’ huts, walled gardens, livestock pastures, and dairies where sheep are milked, and cheese made according to Visit Andorra. Today livestock farming is the only significant traditional activity practiced at the valley. These serve to draw part of the 8 million tourists visiting Andorra annually. 11 percent of those tourists engage in sports and nature recreational activities that can involve visiting the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley according to an Andorran Government report. At the valley, hiking is a favorite activity for most tourists and there are routes where it’s done. These routes are the Blau Lake, Maiana Pass, Fontverd, Madriu Valley ,Entremesaigues, and Perafita.

Preservation Efforts

In 2004, Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in the cultural landscape category. That makes it one of 64 natural spaces afforded the honor in the world. Within Andorra there are laws legislated for its protection from exploitation and its boundaries. Four local administrations oversee the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley management as stipulated by the Andorran Government. The management plan came into being on the 28th of December in 2011.The plan outlines the preservation of the cultural landscape, biodiversity, and fauna and flora at Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. The plan emphasizes need to maintain traditional activities such as agriculture which has declined. As wells as support programs to ensure the valley remains a living landscape that conserves the 13th Century cultural practices to date according to UNESCO.

Madriu-Perafita-Claror ValleyUNESCO World Heritage Site In Andorra
Date of Inscription2004
Criteria VAn outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
Area4,427 hectares
Emphasized Cultural LegaciesShepherding, Iron Smelting, Blacksmith Forging, and Farming.


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