Ok, I think we have established by now that I am TERRIBLE on keeping this blog updated. Today is May 28th, 2020 and I’m still writing about my last trip that started on September last year. I have started writing this post a million times already and the longer it takes the harder it is to remember the details about the trip. But, bear with me for a while 🤣
So, day 9 started pretty early, with a day trip to Montserrat. I had to be at the meeting point at 6:45am, which made me regret the decision of buying this tour the night before, but I was soon able to understand why when we got there.
Just like most tours on this trip I have purchased it from the Get Your Guide site HERE
Montserrat is a mountain top monastery in Catalonia, Spain. Situated atop an unusual rock mountain, it is very popular among Catalans, and Catholic pilgrims come from far and wide to see the Black Madonna. The name Montserrat is a Catalan name meaning ‘serrated mountain’ which is due to its unusual format
At the top of the mountain you can find the Montserrat monastery, which is Catalonia’s most important religious retreat. Lots of locals make overnight hikes at least once in their lives. The monastery is 1236m above the valley floor and that’s why, depending on the day, you will be literally above the clouds. Regardless of religious views, everyone should see this place.
The clouds dissipate as the hours pass by, so it was amazing to get there early and be able to see this. Another reason why it’s a FANTASTIC idea to get there super early is that after 9:00 am the car and buses lineup to get to the monastery is gigantic. You can easily be stuck in traffic for hours. In our case, we were going back to Barcelona around 10am, so we were going against the flow, which was great.
One of the first things you see when you get there is the “Escolania de Montserrat”, which is a boys-only boarding school known for the choir which consists of about 50 boys who endure a 2-year selection process to join the choir. They are one of Europe’s oldest boys’ choirs and they perform briefly on most days (except school holidays), singing Virolai and Salve Regina, as well as at Sunday mass (at 11am).
It is such a tiny place but there’s plenty to do over there. The other big thing to be seen would be the monastery itself. A place full of history from when it was built in 1025 to its invasion by the Napoleon Army in 1811.
If walking is your thing, there are some awesome hike trails through the mountains where you will experience amazing views of some of the mountains.
You can also take a funicular to the top of the mountain, and from there you can choose a number of different trails, all with amazing views of the Catalonian countryside. However, the funicular only opens at 10AM so if you take this super early tour I took you probably won’t have enough time for that, but if you are driving, it’s worth it.
Besides all the hiking options Montserrat is also a very famous climbing destination. Easy to see why 😱
At the top of the mountain, where the monastery is, the only original building is this one
Everything else was destroyed when the Napoleon armies invaded the mountain in what is known as the Montserrat Battle.
When you enter the monastery, right at the basilica atrium, you can also see an sculpture (completely out of place imho) by the Catalan artist Jaume Plensa
And from there you also have access to the basilica which has a Gothic structure that uses Renaissance shapes and traditionally Catalan architecture. It was severely damaged during Napolean’s war and it reconstructed at the end of the 19th century.
Right ouside the monastery you can also find a small market where the sell thing produced locally like cheese, honey and some AMAZING chocolate.