Andorra, the tiny independent principality bordered by France and Spain, which has a population of only 86,000, was of considerable importance as a source of iron in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. One of the principal monuments of the iron industry is the ore mine at Llorts in the parish of Ordino, where guided tours are provided for visitors in the summer months. One of the reasons why the mine has been preserved is that it was not especially successful and the workings extend only about 30 m from the entrance. They nevertheless convey a vivid impression of the working conditions of iron ore miners in the 19th century.
Associated with the mine is the Ressell Forge, once a Catalan forge, an efficient form of bloomery furnace, used in the Basque provinces until the 19th century for the direct reduction of iron ore. A forge of this type could reduce as much of 72 per cent of the iron in a given sample of ore. A Catalan forge used charcoal as its fuel, and several kilns where wood from nearby forests was made into charcoal are preserved. There are also displays of archives related to ironmaking.
In the same parish is the Areny-Plandolit House, now a museum, which in the 19th century was the home of Don Guillermo Areny-Plandolit, one of the principal ironmasters in Andorra. There are numerous exhibits in the museum showing how locally-produced iron was used in the home.
The Mine at Llorts and the Ressell Forge are included in the Andorran section of La Ruta del Ferro als Pirineus (The Pyrennean Iron Route).