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
Take in the monastery and mountains as a day trip from Barcelona. Special tickets can be purchased from the Tourist Office (Information Centers). The "Trans Montserrat" ticket includes five Metro rides, the train ride to Montserrat with return, the ride on the Cable Car up to the mountain, and unlimited rides on the two funiculars. This ticket is 19.50 Euro per person.
The "Tot Montserrat" ticket includes all of the transportation in the Trans Montserrat ticket, plus admission to the Audio-Visual Exhibition, the Art Museum, and a two-course lunch with dessert, beverage, and coffee at the self-service restaurant atop the mountain. This ticket is 34.00 Euro per person.
We opted to go with the Trans Montserrat ticket because we had no plans to go to the Art Museum, and we also thought that we could buy our own lunch and bring it with us for much less money. You catch the train to Montserrat at the Espanya Metro Station. When we were there the trains ran every hour at 36 minutes after. The ride to Montserrat takes about an hour. You disembark at the Aeri de Montserrat station. You then are supposed to board the cable car for an awesome ride up to the monastery. However, in the winter the cable car does not run because of its yearly maintenance check. What a disappointment! So instead, we had to take a bus up, which wasn't too bad and gave us some nice views of the surrounding area.
The monastery, at the time, was going through some major construction to a train or something, so we were constantly walking around workers who were jack-hammering and the like. We followed the signs to the Audio-Visual exhibition, which leaves from one of the gift shops. I wouldn't recommend this. It costs two Euro per person and basically is just a bunch of lit pictures on the wall of monks and a slide show set to music. We found it terribly boring and not the slightest informative!
More to come in my Montserrat 2 entry.
From here we found our way to the Basilica. There is no admission charge to the church, but donations seem to be accepted. The basilica is beautiful! There are many ornate shrines to different Catholic saints and everything seems to be covered in a rich gold.
If you enter from the side door you can walk your way up to the shrine of the Black Virgin. The Virgin sits in a little room which overlooks the back of the Basilica. She is in a glass box, but one of her hands and a wooden orb protrude through the glass so that you can touch her. The room that she is in is decorated with mosaic murals and gold. It is quite amazing!
From the Black Virgin Mary Shrine you walk out into the Cloisters, where there are places for hundreds of candle novinas. Our ticket gave us unlimited rides on the funiculars, so we headed to those next. One takes you up to the summit of the mountain and the other takes you down to the walkway that leads to the Holy Cave where the Black Virgin is said to have been found. Be mindful of your time at the monastery, because the funiculars do not run all day. The last ones go up at 4:00 and 4:25 and the last ones come down at 4:15 and 4:40. We had just enough time to snap a couple of pictures and then get right back down, but we were unable to hike along any of the dozen or so trails up there.
We never made it to the Holy Cave because it closed at 4:25, which is when the funicular LEAVES the station to come down (silly planning on their part, if you ask me). Do visit the gift shops, however. There are two of them and they sell some really neat things! If you can leave Barcelona for Montserrat early in the morning, you should have enough time to see and do everything.
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 Barcelona and I enjoyed it really much. But I wont write about obvious locations such as the Sagrada Familia and the Miro museum. They are all worth the visit but what really surprized me was the Montserrat monastery.
Located on the top a mountain near Barcelona, you can reach the place easily by train. The Montserrat monastery is a fantastic example of gothic architecture and faith (people still live there in total isolation!).
You can visit a couple of churches and chapels up there but what is more impressive is the view from the top in a sunny day. Ask you hotel concierge about this trip or search for leaflets at hostels and tourist venues.
If you want to take a little trip out of the city, there's this famous and important pilgrimage spot in Spain called Montserrat (serrated mountain.) It's not one of the most fun places to see yet, it's fascinating to see.
We took a tour to Montserrat and when we arrived to the church, there was a long line surrounding the basilica to view the virgin (people come from afar to see and touch La Moreneta, the patron saint of Catalunya.) We opted not to get in line but to get a seat to listen to the 50-member Escolanía (one of the oldest and most renowned boys' choirs in Europe) and they sounded like angels.
And then we were off to go back to BCN. Like I mentioned before, if you're interested why not go... if you're not the pilgrimage/museum buff, it would be better to stay in the city!
Theres a magic place in Catalaunya, its called Montserrat and its a high mountains situated 50 km far from barcelona. Theres a church at the top of the mountain, that holds the catalan virgin, MORENETA ( name given since its the only black virgin around).
You can access to Montserrat by the motorway, leavaing in st vicenç de castellet and following the banners until there, or using the train, get the ferrocarrils de la generalitat from Barcelona's plaça dEspanya, until Monistrol aeri, there you shoudl get the cable car to go to the top of the mountain, or nowadays also can get the cremallera train that also goes to the top.-
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
This could be a must-see activity or an off-the-beaten-path activity depending on what your plans are in Barcelona. But if you're interested in a day trip, Montserrat is definitely worth the visit. The mountains are beautiful, and even if you're not religions (Montserrat is a religious site), you'll love it for the beautiful views and cultural value.
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.....
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.