Capital of Val d’Aran, Vielha is a small Pyrenean city with approximately 4,000 inhabitants, located at an altitude of 974 meters. Surrounded by peaks that exceed 2000 meters, it began to be built in the widening formed by the Garona River valley, at its junction with the Nere River, which crosses the town.
Its streets and new buildings have formed an interesting commercial center where visitors will find all kinds of specialized shops in adventure sports, high mountain and snow, artisan products from Val d’Aran and the Pyrenees, essential articles and services, fashion stores, outlets, supermarkets, banks and ATMs, in addition to the ‘espitau’ (hospital) and the Palai de Gèu sports complex. The largest avenues contrast with the narrow streets and old houses of the old town, which over time have been filled with a wide variety of culinary offerings, with restaurants and bars of all kinds.
The church of Sant Miquel, dedicated to the saint who was also a prince, forms the center of Vielha along with the arcaded building of the Town Hall, the Tourist Office, and the Post Office building, and inside it preserves the precious Cristo de Mijaran. It is believed that this wooden bust was part of the scene of the descent from the Cross, which would have been destroyed, and only this fragment would be preserved. It dates back to the 12th century and was made by one of the masters of the Erill Workshop, of Lombard Romanesque style that settled in the neighboring Boí Valley. The Gothic and Baroque paintings preserved in the parish church of Vielha are other treasures that should not be missed when visiting its interior, while outside, its imposing octagonal tower topped with a slender slate bell tower, typical of Val d’Aran, stands out.
But Vielha has other places not to be missed: the Ethnological Museum; the noble house Ço de Rodès; and the Wool Museum. The General Martinón Tower is a 17th century house with interesting Renaissance windows, which currently houses the Ethnological Museum, where visitors will discover the fascinating history of Val d’Aran. Ço de Rodès is another noble house, also located on the Main Street, next to the Museum, which has been successfully restored recently. A few streets up, still in the old town of Vielha, there is another historic building, the Wool Museum, where you can see a Mülle Jenny spinning machine, which was key in textile workshops during the Industrial Revolution, and which shows the boom that this sector had in Val d’Aran during the 19th century.
From the Aranese capital, several routes of great beauty also depart to explore on foot, thanks to its central location within the valley, as Vielha is a true crossroads, where the N-230 converges after crossing the tunnel, towards France to the north, or towards Ribagorza and Lleida in the south; the C-28 that goes up towards Baqueira and crosses the Port de la Bonaigua towards Pallars. The Camín Reiau will take us on foot towards Alto Aran in one direction, or towards the Middle and Lower Aran, if taken from behind the Palai de Gèu. And at the exit of Vielha, towards France, we will find the remains of the sanctuary of Mijaran, with the new attached building, where the ‘conselhers’ and the Sindic d’Aran take office in the Conselh Generau, as they already did in the 13th century.
Carrèr des Arroquets, 3
25530 Vielha, Lleida