Over the weekend I took a day trip to the mountainous village and monastery of Montserrat. ❤
Montserrat mountain is a famous pilgrimage site, which has been well-known since the 9th century after shepherds discovered a marvelous carving of the Virgin Mary there. That statue was named the Black Madonna, and because of its alleged healing powers, the popularity of Montserrat grew, and numerous chapels and a monastery was built there. Currently, there is a basilica and fully functioning monastery, with about 80 monks who live there and offer pastoral services to visitors.
Aside from its religious appeal, the geologic formations found at Montserrat are truly unique. The mountain is composed of needle-like monolithic rocks and lush Mediterranean vegetation.
To get to Montserrat from Barcelona, I met up with my friends at Plaça Espanya, where we took the R5 train towards Manresa.
Side note: When you’re at the station, it’s best to purchase a combined ticket, which includes the round-trip train ticket and a ride up the mountain with either a rack railway or a cable car. As well, the ticket price is 20.50 Euro, and although the machine accepts 50 Euro bills, you will receive your change in 50-cent coins!! Ahhh! My money pouch was so heavy, I could knock somebody out with it! Hah! 😂😂😂
After an hour on the train, we arrived at the Aeri de Montserrat station, where we took a cable car up the mountain to the monastery.
Anyway, even though they crammed about 30 of us in the cable car, we still managed to get striking views of the Spanish countryside. 😍😍And, after about a 5-minute journey, we arrived at the village of Montserrat. Once we arrived, our first stop was to the information booth, where we were given a map with suggested sights and trails to hike during our visit.
As well, since we arrived on a Saturday, they had a lovely farmer’s market going on, and my Russian friend was overjoyed to find the love of her life there: cheese! ❤️ 🧀 They offered us all various samples of Catalonian goat’s cheeses. They also sold other products, like figs, honey, nuts, and local fruit and veg. After strolling the market, we visited the main attraction of Montserrat, the monastery and basilica.
The entryway to the basilica is just stunning, with an open-aired atrium covered in white, marble tile, and intricate carvings of saints across its façade.
Inside the basilica, we saw the famed Black Madonna shrine, which sits on a throne, holding the orb of the Earth in one hand and the baby Jesus on her lap.
Apparently she is black from a combination of candle smoke exposure and aging.
When we visited, there was also a full sermon underway, and we could hear the lovely chants of the churchgoers echo through the chapel. ✝️ 🎵After the sermon, we needed a little sustenance, so we had some granola bars and fruit we brought, and my Russian friend even brought herself a portable portion of gazpacho. 🤔 I’d never seen it drank out of a carton before, but I guess it’s like a thicker, seasoned tomato juice. 🍅🥒We also bought a few items in the tourist cafeteria. Hot drinks there were less than 2 Euro and sandwiches were around 5 Euro, which is not to bad if you need to refuel. ☕ 🥐
From there we hiked one of the recommended trails: Creu de Sant Miguel. This 30-minute hike lead us to Sant Miguel’s cross, where we had panoramic views over the entire village.
Now, one of the sights that I would have liked to climb was the Stairway to Heaven.
Unfortunately though, during our visit, the stairway was blocked off to visitors. I guess it was for safety reasons, so maybe it’s better than I didn’t make the trip up there. ❌ 🤕
Overall, it was a beautiful and relaxing day trip from the city. We spent a solid four hours there during our visit, but you could easily spend the entire day there hiking around the area’s numerous trails, to view different vantage points and find other religious relics placed around the mountain. Basically, this trip can be tailored to anyone looking for a breath of fresh air, and scenic views of a truly unique landscape near Barcelona. ❤