Remedies against oblivion

El hecho de que Llívia sea un pueblo catLlívia is a Catalan enclave embedded in France. This curious situation dates from 1659, when the town remained in Catalan territory after the Treaty of the Pyrenees ceded the Catalan-speaking counties north of the mountain range to the French crown. Apart from its historical peculiarity, however, this legendary town has a rich heritage that will impress visitors. The exquisite streets and squares are flanked by neat stone houses with flowers on the balconies, and the commercial premises (patisseries, restaurants, sausage factories and others) greet you with a smile and offer the best of their produce. 

A stroll through the town centre brings you to the Plaça Major and the monumental Gothic church of Mare de Déu dels Àngels, originally designed as a fortification with two towers and an attractive neo-classical façade, all of which would be enough to justify a trip to Llívia. However, the town boasts another heritage treasure that is one of the best-kept secrets of the Catalan Pyrenees: the old Esteva Pharmacy, now converted into a museum and the pride and joy of the local inhabitants. 

Go into the museum, located right in front of the church of Mare de Déu dels Àngels, and start to admire everything you see and hear. The pharmacy was first documented in 1594 and is considered the oldest in Europe. From the information panels and the audio-visual, you will learn that the pharmacy was taken over in the early 17th century by the Esteva family, who ran it for seven generations until the last pharmacist closed it down in 1926. The surprising number of objects conserved in the building bear witness to its former importance. For a long time, Llívia was the capital of Cerdanya County, a territory abounding in medicinal herbs. The museum has many treasures, such as the collection of polychrome Renaissance herb boxes from the 17th century, depicting busts of saints, famous botanists, and well-known figures from that time; the small Baroque cabinet where the more potent drugs and extracts were stored; and the blue and white ceramic jars. In fact, the only place where blue medicine jars can be seen is here in the pharmacy of Llívia, a unique place in the world!