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Montserrat , Monistrol

5.0 stars


The Mountain

Montserrat, or "serrated mountain" in English, is a beautiful mountain made up of jagged rock formations, for which it was named. It seems impossible that anyone could have built anything on this steep mountainside, much less a monastery, but nonetheless, the monastery stands as a testament to the determination of the Benedictine monks who built it. It is said that a monastery was first founded here in 1025 to commemorate the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What currently stands was apparently rebuilt in 1858 following ransacking by Napoleonic troops earlier in the century. The Montserrat monastery is famous for the statue, called La Moreneta, of the Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus.

In addition to the religious areas that you can visit here, there is an abundance of hiking opportunities. Take the Funicular de San Joan that goes up the mountain and you can find trails that wind their way through the mountainside. You can also see some of the hermitages of the monks. Be prepared to hike a bit to get the best views.

Montserrat is well worth a visit, not only for the opportunity to view a remarkable religious site, but also for the breathtaking views of nature that abound. [more ]

La Moreneta

The Montserrat monastery is famous for the statue, called La Moreneta, of the Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus. Legends abound about the origin of the statue, but one of the legends claims that the statue was made by St. Luke. When entering the basilica, you can see a line of people off to the side who are waiting to view the statue and offer their prayers to Christ. This line files down the side of the church, up the stairs, and across to where the statue is located high above the altar. The entrance for viewing La Moreneta is located to the right of the basilica entrance.

Whatever legend you prefer to believe, there seems to be no doubt that the statue is quite old. The style is unique and beautiful and well worth viewing. [more ]

The Basilica

High above the altar in the basilica you can see La Moreneta, the statue of the Virgin Mary, for which the Basilica is famous. The basilica is beautiful and well worth seeing. The public is welcome to attend mass here, and though our guidebook told us that the mass was open to the public, we were surprised to find ourselves attending the wedding mass of a Catalunyan couple. The mass was in Catalán, not Spanish, so I understood only some of the words, but there seemed to be numerous people from the general public in attendance. I was perhaps even more surprised when while waiting in line to see La Moreneta, there was another wedding mass, this time in Spanish. Apparently, being such an important religious site (La Moreneta has been adopted as the patroness of Catalunya) this has also become a popular church for weddings. Though a surprise, it ended up being a nice bonus to the overall experience of Montserrat.

For those visitors who are so inclined, you can purchase a candle to light just outside the basilica where there are rows of candles to commemorate the petitions of visitors. It was certainly beautiful to see the reverence exhibited by the visitors while in the church and while on the site in general. [more ]

The Walk to the Shrine

The Funicular de Santa Cova descends to a shrine partway down the mountain from the monastery. Along the way, you pass a grotto in the hillside. The grotto at Montserrat has a beautiful depiction of the resurrection, the biblical scene where Mary Magdalene and the other Mary come to the tomb and find Christ has risen. Two figures stand just outside the aperture to the cave, while the angel, clearly visible on the left, and an apostle are within the cave itself. Also along the way to the shrine you can find a beautiful iron cross placed to stand out on the hillside. The views from this part of the site are also spectacular. [more ]

Getting to Montserrat from Barcelona

To get to Montserrat, we took the train from the Plaça d'Espanya station to the Aeri de Montserrat station. From there, we boarded the cable car that crossed the river and ascended to Montserrat. This was my first experience in a cable car, and it was fantastic. We had beautiful views of the river, the Llobregat Valley, and the mountains as we ascended to the Monastery of Montserrat. The cable car drops you off just below the monastery, and from here, you can easily find your way around.

If you prefer not to take the cable car you can either take the rack train (take the train from the Plaça d'Espanya station and get off one stop after Aeri de Montserrat), you can take a bus (from Estació d' Autobeses de Sants in Barcelona), or you can drive. I did not personally take any of these methods of transportation to get here, but I would imagine that each would offer a unique view of the approach to Montserrat. [more ]


Montserrat is a must see when visiting Barcelona. There is so much to see and do in such a small space. The Museum of Montserrat had a fantastic collection of art works considering its size- you'll fnd some Dalis and some Picassos. It's actually one of the most important museums in Catalonia. You should take the cable car and have a look at the sites down below and ride on the Funnicular railway (neither for the faint hearted!) The Basilica of Montserrat is also a very impressive- a mix between renaisance and gothic styles. [more ]

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