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CURIOSITIES What Happens Around Llivia …

Posted by on 8. Juli 2016

Llivia

The geographical situation of the enclave ...

Llivia

… the Coat of Arms ...

Llivia

… and the interior of the old pharmacy

I KNOW, THERE ARE ENCLAVES ALL OVER THE GLOBE. But very few are a land-island, completely surrounded by another state or nation. Like Gibraltar, Melilla and Ceuta – they are harbors, open on one end, not in a „prison“. Well, I’v been to Campione, a veritable Italian enclave within Switzerland, and there is a Dutch one within Belgium. Some of these enclaves, due to their peculiar geographical position, are tax-free shopping regions or financial tax-havens. But when I was cruising in Southern France, near the Spanish border, on the edge of the Pyrenees mountains, I suddenly was in Spain without being in Spain! Encounting an enclave nobody knows about. Llivia is the name of the place or region, and this is what happened when I drove on: 1. I was in France and all was in French. 2. Over a hill and around a bend, and I was in Spain, having to speak Spanish. 3. Eight more kilometers and I was in France, speaking French again. 4. And after 3 km I came to Puigcerda, was really in Spain and had to speak Spanish. To cross the Spanish oasis in France means a 12 minute-drive or 8 km. Both countries are in the EU, so there are no borders, fortunately, but some years ago you had the present your documents four times during this short drive. There is only one road, crossing Llivia. from east to west or the other way around. It’s a hilly province, as high as 1200 m / 3600 feet. About 1400 Spaniards live there, and when I inquired, I found out, that ca. 400 years ago, after one of the many devastating European wars, Llivia has opted to be rather a part of Spain than of France. And since then nobody dared to attack this decision. A suggestion: You cross Llivia, look at the fascination Pyrenees landscape, and if you got a really good guidebook with you, you will learn, that the oldest pharmacy in Europe, the Farmacia Esteve, has survived in the small town of Llivia, unspoiled since the 18th century – worth visiting and the only man-made highlight in this odd piece of Spain outside of Spain …

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