Daytrip -Montserrat, Barcelona
Montserrat is truly a special place. It's easy to get there from Barcelona. There are a lot of tickets on tourist info places that cover all the expenses. You just need to pay attention to the timetable. The views are amazing and you can take a walk over the mountains and enjoy them. Don't miss the concert of the boys choir at 1 PM. It's something special.
You can get to Montserrat by tour bus or car . I went by public train. This goes from Barcelona Espanya, the line is R5, this is difficult to find so look for L8 first. Here is a Montserrat information desk, staff will help you buy the right ticket. I bought a combined ticket for the train to Monserrat and the Rack railway up to the Monastery. You can travel higher by funicalar. There is a resturant and cafeteria. The train from Barcelona Espanya to Montserrat is hourly at 24 mins to the hour [please check ]. There is a cable car from the station before rack train station..
I began my Camino de Santiago at the Monastery of Montserrat. I took the train to Monistrol from Barcelona and walked from the train stop to the center of the pueblo where I was directed to the path that would take me up to Montserrat. I will admit that several times, as I watched the train climb from Monistrol to the monastery, with passengers warm and dry inside as I fought the wind, rain, and cold that I though it possible I had made a mistake. However, after I completed the climb and as I enjoyed a filling lunch in the cafeteria, I was glad I had begun my Camino experience with the climb to Montserrat.
As my Camino was a spiritual pilgrimage I wanted to begin by attending vespers in the abbey, a gorgeous Baroque masterpiece where the Virgin of Montserrat rests. To say that I enjoy music is an understatement. I was not prepared for the beauty of the Escolania, the monks and Boys' Choir of Montserrat. There could not be a more appropriate or more inspiring way to begin the Camino de Santiago than to hear vespers in the Abbey of Montserrat sung by the Escolonia. There are no words to describe the beauty of the music or the feelings evinced by vespers and Escolonia. Do not miss this.
On holiday with friends, after reading about it, we decided to go to Montserrat as one of the party had done some research and brought it with him.
We got the train then a very steep cable car ride to reach Montserrat. The views were amazing going up, you can see so far. We went up through the clouds and got off where the Monastery is.
Montserrat is a Benedictine monk mountain retreat. It is truly beautiful.
You are able to walk around and even see the 'Black Madonna'. You can take your time, enjoy the peace and there are may places that you can sit, or light a candle and be within your own thoughts.
Take the funicula up to the mountains and go on one of the walks; the views are amazing. Make sure you check the times for the last funicular as it's a long way to walk down!
There is a museum and stalls that sell cheeses and olive oils.
Plan a whole day for this trip. There is lots to do and explore. Many experiences in one day is not something that you come across often.
This is a monastery in the mountains 4,000 feet up, and about 30 miles south of the city. It is a fantastic trip and the monastery is still used for reverence, even though you would not know it form all the commercialism and retail shops on the complex. I was astounded that religion had to steep into so much retail to draw people maybe not for the sake of being reverent, but to see the church and then eat and shop. The even is a hotel on the grounds, Ugh. No less than an average of 3,000 + tourists show up daily.
Tradition states that a group of children saw a bright light in 880 AD and it eventually became a mecca for seeing the black Virgin of a sculpting done by St. Luke in 80AD. The monastery was constructed in 11th century and it grew over time. Today there are 80 practicing Monks of site.
It is still used by the Benedictine Monks to pray and learn. Inside the church there is a song melody by student choirboys training for monk hood daily at noon. It draws about 2,000+ people to the chapel. Another feature is for people to walk past a "Black Mary" as a saint symbol in the rear of the nave. Lines can take about 3/4 hour for you to get to see it up close
1 hr from espanya to whichever station at the bottom. at Espanya, look for pink L8 once there look for R5. There is someone (kiosk) who will help you decide on ticket and someone else to help you buy it from machine. they have different prices for extra stuff, audio, lunch etc. but 15 euros round trip for basic. If you want to take the cable car (5 min up, with best views, but standing room only) tell them cable car. You will only be able to go up and down the same way. get off at arie station. if you want to go by tram, monseratt cremellea (sp?), you get off at the next station. change to the monseratt tram. 15 minutes to get up, but you sit. also 15 euros. don't get off at the wrong station, it can take you much longer (as we did) Boys choir is twice a day, first at 1, get seats at least 15 minutes early or you will have standing room only. first train is at 0835. Suggest you try that one, as each trip is more crowded. It can be much colder here, especially in the shade.
You do not need a tour to go to Montserrat. You can do it at your own pace using public transportation. Trains to Montserrat depart from Plaça de Espanya underground railway station (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat). Take the line with the direction Manresa. Once you arrive to Montserrat, you have two options: the rack railway (departs from Monistrol Station) and the cable car (get off at the "Aeri de Montserrat Station"). You can also buy a combined ticket for the train + the rack railway. Once on top the mountain, you can visit the monastery and hike around it without the need of a guide.
For upmarket leather jackets, you can go to Loewe, a famous Spanish designer brand that specializes in leather articles. They are expensive, but the quality is high. They have stores at Passeig de Gràcia and Av. Diagonal, the main thoroughfares of the city. In that area you will surely find different stores that sell leather goods (Peleteria). Otherwise, you can try the El Corte Ingles Department Store, where you will have Loewe plus a variety of other prestigious brands.
For fun tapas, go to El Born District and find the place you like the most. For sea food, I recommend the Barceloneta (the area that faces the Port Vell).
If you are only going to be in Barcelona for two days, I would skip the beach and would visit the Barri Gòtic and and the Gaudí buildings in the Eixample area. Maybe climb to the fabulous Parc Güell if you have the time. The beach is nice, but not as unique to Barcelona as the other attractions.
We arrived at the monastery at just past 12 noon and unfortunately missed the l'Escolania choir which sings at 12 noon on Sundays. Do check the times that they sing so that this doesn't happen to you too! A map of the monastery area is available for free at the tourist information counter. Tourists thronged the place and the queue to see La Moreneta (The Black Virgin) in the Basilica was extremely long. We gave that a miss and went into the central nave of the Basilica where a mass was just about to take place. The Ave Maria path to the side of the Basilica is also accessible and it is quite an amazing sight to see thousands of candles lit - each a representation of someone's prayer.
The self-service restaurant was very crowded and we were thankful that we did not get the Tot Montserrat ticket for then we would have been jostling with the others to get our food. Instead, we went to the stalls outside that sold local produce / locally made fig cakes, sugared almonds, cheese and honey.There are also shops nearby where you can get your souvenirs from.
We took the funicular down to Santa Cova and found it to be a sharp contrast to the noisy, crowded Monastery area. The Santa Cova trail has amazingly breathtaking views and a peaceful and serene atmosphere. I especially loved the sculptures that loomed at almost every turn of a corner on the trail. They represent the 15 mysteries of the rosary and are designed by Antoni Gaudi, Puig i Cadafalch, Josep Llimona and the Vallmitjana brothers. The trail is not difficult and takes only about 20 minutes at a moderate pace.
Coming back up from Santa Cova, we immediately switched to the funicular that took us up to Sant Joan. My companion is not really the hiking sort so we chose the Sant Joan trail which is the shortest. I would have liked to the take the trail that leads to the highest peak - Sant Jeroni. Even so, the views that greeted us were breathtaking and utterly impossible to be described even with photographs. It is something that must be experienced. There is a feeling of being awed in the presence of something so majestic and so much bigger than we are.
I left Montserrat with an infused sense of peace and the feeling that my problems are nothing but a speck in an ocean. Dealing with the day-to-day stress can leave us myopic and this was a fantastic way of taking a big step back and looking at the bigger picture. And then everything is put back into perspective. I would very much love to return to Montserrat and this time, only spend time walking the trails and experiencing the grandeur of it all.
Monserrat is wonderful.
Take a train (1 hour) and cable car (or mountain train) to the monastery. Try to get there when the weather is good.
Come to the Pl. Espanya railway station early enough - lines at ticket machines can be slow because some people need more time to figure out the procedure.
Trains are full. Get off in Monserrat Aeri to take the cable car (I prefer it) or go to the next stop to change to the mountain train.
In Monserrat I strongly suggest to buy one- way funicular trip to the top of the mountain. You can stroll around for a while and then walk down to the monastery - 1 hour slow walk.
Although Barcelona has plenty to see and do, a day trip to Montserrat is well worth the trip if you want to escape the city for a while.
Montserrat is located about an hour's train ride from Barcelona's Placa Espanya train station and you can buy your ticket at the train station. There is a booth set up especially for the tickets in the station foyer.
You can choose between two tickets. Both tickets give you return train to Monserrat, retrun Cable Car OR Rack Railway up the mountain, Access to the monastry and audio visual presentation and return tickets for both funicular railways in the mountain. The more expensive ticket also gives you entrance to the mueseum and lunch. The cheaper ticket is E20,90 and worth every cent.
Monserrat is a functioning Benedictine monastry set high in the mountain and hasd been located here almost 1,000 years.
Not only is the monastry an important place of religious worship, with the image of Our Lady the prominent attraction and important artefact on site, but the monastry and surrounding area is a haven for nature lovers and walkers with miles of walks and hikes surrounding the monastry and breathtaking views at every turn.
I went to Montserrat by myself as a day trip and it was really amazing. It was sunny for part of the day I was there and later there was a gentle fog rolling in as well. Montserrat has an amazingly beautiful monastery and I was lucky enough to hear the choir boys sings on that day. It was an amazingly beautiful sound.
Surrounding the monastery grounds are also several trails that I highly recommend. One of them which I went on was a path w/ several plaques of different saints (?) w/ beautiful mosaics. There is a picture of a small portion of that path in my added pictures w/ this tip.
A bit of advice, if you are going to see the status of the Black Virgin, don't worry about having to get in line. I waited in line for almost an hour only to realize the only reason I had to wait was because there were several tour buses there at the time I decided to get i line. Later, I went back and there was no line at all!
Be sure to take a few hours to visit Montserrat, located about one hour outside of Barcelona. Stop in at one of the Tourism Booths to purchase a combination train/Montserrat ticket ... and do it the day before so that you can leave bright and early the next day.
It's a nice train ride to Montserrat, giving you a glimpse of some countryside (sort of). Montserrat itself will be quite awe-inspiring, with jagged rock outcroppings--you'll find something peaceful about the natural rawness of the mountains.
Montserrat Monastery is quite beautiful, with Mass taking place everyday (I think). Whether or not you're religious, the church and the museum are really beautiful and great to explore.
Frankly, I wish I had been able to spend more time here. There's a Marriott hotel at Montserrat, which I know sounds strange! However, if you can do it, I would recommend bringing a pair of hiking shoes and staying one night at Montserrat--spending some time hiking the walking paths high above the monastery.
You can purchase tickets to take the funiculars either up to the hermitages of Sant Joan and Sant Jeroni and down to the chapel where the Black Virgin icon was originally found.
If you decide to go up to the hermitage, be prepared. One for the hike and two, for the condition of the hermitages. I'm not sure what I was expecting, a quaint little monastery with a small cafe maybe? But no, there is only one word to describe these hermitages: derelict. The hermitages have been reduced to rubble littered with garbage and grafitti. It looks like teenagers have been doing some heavy partying there. To walk through them you must watch your step as there are sharp objects everywhere and the steps to go up to the patio are ready to fall apart. The view was fantastic though.
The black Virgin icon suposedly brought by Saint Peter is responsible for the existence of this monastery. A chapel was built to house it and afterward miracles and visions abounded. You can line up to touch it and make your wish to the Black virgin. Make sure you get your seats early for the performance of their world famous boy's choir which if I remember correctly sings daily at 1 pm. At the entrance to the Basilica everyone seemed to be standing towards the facade with their arms spread wide. Not sure why they were doing it but when in Rome.....
Catalonia's most important religous retreat,the home of Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat and a Benedectine Monastery.You can also enjoy a spectacular views,the Museum of Monserrat,Audiovisual room.From there you can take a short Funicular ride to Sant Joan, offering a panoramic views or Santa Cova,the sacred cave to the legend of the Madonna (pictures are in my travelogue).Getting there is very easy,please see Public Transport Montserrat..