If you have already visited Santiago de Compostela and if the Sagrada Familia has made a great impression on you, it’s time for you to visit one more place in Spain that you should like.
Montserrat Monastery (in Catalan: Monestir de Santa Maria de Montserrat) is one of the most famous places of worship on the Iberian Peninsula. As it is located about 60 km from Barcelona, a lot of tourists are interested in visiting this place.
The sanctuary is located 725 meters above sea level. It was built in 1025 and its founder was one of the abbots of the Benedictine order in Ripoll. Despite such a long history, we won’t find many traces of the past in the building. In the 12th century it was quite heavily rebuilt, while a few centuries later it was completely destroyed during the invasion of Napoleonic troops (1811-1812).
Today’s Montserrat buildings date from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and their reconstruction was inspired by the Gothic and Renaissance styles. The monastery also has more modern elements, such as the organ from 2010 with more than 4,000 pipes!
INTERESTING FACT: In 1982, Pope John Paul II visited Montserrat during his pilgrimage to Spain.
Visiting the Monastery
You can sightsee Montserrat on your own (then you only need to buy an admission ticket) or by booking a trip, for example, from Barcelona. The second option will be particularly useful if you don’t travel by car. And what is worth seeing when already there?
Virgen de Montserrat (La Moreneta)
The wooden statue of the Black Madonna from the 12th century stored in Montserrat is considered the most valuable element of the monastery. Since 1881, she has also been the patron saint of the Catalan region, hence her affectionate name – La Moreneta, which can be loosely translated as “the little dark one”.
According to legend, the figure of the Mother of God was carved by St. Luke in Jerusalem. It was brought to Catalonia by St. Peter. Hidden in the 8th century from Muslims, it was rediscovered in the 9th century. If these legends were to be believed, the figure could not be moved in any way, which was quickly recognized as God’s work and proclaimed a miracle.
Escolanía de Montserrat boys’ choir
Escolanía de Montserrat is a boys’ choir that has existed since the Middle Ages and which can be heard at the Montserrat Sanctuary at selected times of the day. The choir’s performances attract not only the members of the congregation, but also tourists who gather in large numbers in front of the main altar. You can watch Escolanía performances during the week at 1 PM and on Sundays at 12 noon.
Montserrat hill is not only a religious place, though. Visitors can also visit the museum which has many paintings by contemporary painters in its collections. Here you can find works by Spanish artists (e.g. Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso) and French impressionists (e.g. Claude Monet, Edgar Degas). There is also old art by Caravaggio and El Greco. Numerous archaeological collections from Egypt, Cyprus and Mesopotamia are noteworthy too.
The phenomenon of the Montserrat massif is the natural park created here (Parc Natural de Montserrat). Magnificent views and its closeness to nature make it a remarkably beautiful place. The park covers an area of 3,630 ha and is rich in over 1,200 plant species. Its fauna is scarce, however – here you can find mainly wild boars, martens, squirrels and bats that live in caves.
Following the local walking routes, you can reach the higher parts of the Montserrat massif and viewpoints: Sant Miquel, Sant Joan and the highest peak of Sant Jeroni (1237 m above sea level). On sunny days, you can see the panorama of Barcelona and the Pyrenees.
Montserrat Mountain is not only about beautiful views, though. There are also some interesting monuments of railway technology in the area. These include, among others:
- Cremallera de Montserrat rack railway
- Aeri de Montserrat cable car
- Funicular de Sant Joan funicular railway
- Funicular de la Santa Cova funicular railway (leads to the cave where the statue of the Virgin Mary was found)
INTERESTING FACT: In Catalan, Montserrat means a jagged mountain.
Practical information about Montserrat
- It’s best to buy tickets to Montserrat in advance. You will then avoid standing in a long queue and avoid the risk that all tickets have been sold out.
- Basilica opening hours: 7:30 AM to 8:00 PM
- Montserrat Museum opening hours: Monday to Friday; from 10: 00 PM- 5:45 PM. Weekends and holidays; from 10: 00 AM-6:45 PM.
- Buy Tickets on GetYourGuide
- Buy Tickets on Tiqets
- Buy Tickets on Musement
Hotels in Barcelona
Discover CataloniaEach region of Spain is divided into provinces. Their names often coincide with the names of their main cities. Catalonia is divided into four provinces, each of which has different tourist attractions and interesting places to offer:
|Province||Tourist attractions and interesting places|
|Barcelona||Gothic Quarter Barri Gòtic, La Rambla, Montjuïc, cable railway Telefèric de Montjuïc, Magic Fountains (Font Màgica), La Boqueria, Laberint d’Horta Park, Poble Espanyol, Camp Nou, Torre Agbar, oceanarium in Barcelona, Barcelona Zoo, Tibidabo Amusement Park, Palace of Catalan Music, National Art Museum of Catalonia, Picasso Museum, Catalan Museum of Archaeology, Miniature Park - Catalunya en Miniatura, MACBA Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, Generalitat Palace, Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy (La Mercé), Cathedral of Barcelona, remains of the temple of Augustus, Els Quatre Gats Cafe, Erotic Museum, Santa María del Mar Church, Port Vell, Plaça de Catalunya, Parc de la Ciutadella, Parc de Collserola, Casa Amatller, Palau Güell, Passeig de Gràcia - luxury street in Barcelona, Montserrat Monastery. Barcelona's neighborhoods and districts (El Raval, El Born, Sant Pere, Les Corts). Gaudi's Monuments: Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, Pabellones Güell, Bellesguard, Casa Vicens, Casa Calvet. Popular cities: Barcelona, Torrelles de Llobregat, Hospitalet de Llobregat, Tarrasa, Badalona, Sabadell, Mataró, Santa Coloma de Gramanet, San Cugat del Vallés, Cornellá de Llobregat, San Baudilio de Llobregat, Rubí, Manresa, Villanueva y Geltrú, Viladecans, Casteldefels, El Prat de Llobregat, Granollers, Sardañola del Vallés, Mollet del Vallès, Gavá, Sant Antoni de Vilamajor|
|Girona||Salvador Dali Museum, Museum of Miniatures and Microminiatures Micro Mundi, Sausage Museum. Popular cities: Girona, Figueres, Besalú, Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar, Olot, Salt, Palafrugell, San Felíu de Guixols, Rosas, Bañolas, Palamós, Santa Coloma de Farnés, Castellón de Ampurias Torroella de Montgrí, La Bisbal del Ampurdán, Ripoll, Castillo de Aro, Calonge, La Escala, Cassá de la Selva, Castellfollit de la Roca|
|Lleida||Popular cities: Lleida, Tárrega, Balaguer, Mollerusa, La Seo de Urgel, Cervera, Solsona, Alcarrás, Guisona, Almacellas|
|Tarragona||Amusement and theme parks: PortAventura. Popular cities: Tarragona, Reus, Vendrell, Tortosa, Cambrils, Salou, Valls, Calafell, Amposta, Vilaseca|