Santa Maria de Montserrat
Montserrat is a Benedictine monastery located high atop the jaggedy mountains of Catalunya. It is about an hour and a half journey from Barcelona (Espanya station on R5) to the monastery built into the mountain. The views are sweeping and spectacular from the top and truly a sight to be seen. Get your cameras ready and set to panoramic setting because you’re going to be hard pressed to find a backdrop like this one.
Although there are many reasons one would make the trek to the mountain, ours was primarily to get a glimpse of the Black Madonna, patron saint of Catalonia. After seeing one in Toledo, and doing some research, I became fascinated with them as there are not very many around and they always have an interesting story. This particular Madonna is a wood carved sculpture from the twelfth century.
A word to the wise (not us on this particular trip), get there early! Early as in when it opens if you want to see the Madonna but not spend all day long waiting in a line that slowly inches along at a snail’s pace. It’s definitely worth seeing but there are other parts of the mountain to explore.
If you survived the Madonna’s line and still have energy for exploration, take the funicular Sant Joan to the top of Montserrat’s highest point. It’s an awesome ride up in the cable car that goes almost vertically up the steep mountain side. Get your cameras ready to snap even more fantastic views of the Monastery and surrounding mountains… if you can get around your many cable car companions, all with the same goal. One more thing, if heights make you queasy, consider yourself warned. But! You won’t regret it.
At the top, there is a lookout point and several trails to choose from. If you are wearing closed-toe shoes, you’re in luck! Take the walk uphill to the chapel and even further up to the hermitages built into the mountain by monks. Be careful, as it’s steep and narrow. There’s quite a bit of nature here to explore and easy to lose track of time meandering about the mountain side. If you’re getting a late start, just be mindful of the funicular’s last departure time back down to the Monastery. Lines can get long at the very end of the day so plan accordingly and above all, have fun!
+ get there EARLY
+ wear walking shoes
+ bring a light sweater/jacket
+ wear sunscreen, bring sunglasses
+ pack a lunch. There is a cafeteria, but the noise and smells were enough to make me pass on lunch