If you’re looking for a serene place in Barcelona to relax, re-centre yourself and declutter your mind and body, a day trip to the Monserrat Mountain is the best option there is. Montserrat is a multi-peaked rocky range located 50km Northwest of Barcelona and has a rather curious geological formation. Its name is derived from Catalan which translates to the “serrated mountain.” It has very distinct rock formations and is composed of conglomerate, a coarse-grained sedimentary rock.
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What is there to see?
Aside from its distinct formations, Montserrat has an intricate blend of nature, breath-taking views, rich art culture, intriguing architectural structures and a sense of sacredness which is all very relaxing. The mountain offers scenic views of the Pyrenees to the north, Barcelona, the Mediterranean Sea on the southern horizon as well as the river Llobregat.
It is home to the Benedictine Monestir de Montserrat, which has historically been a stronghold of Catalan culture and helped to conserve its distinct language, customs and traditions. The Monastery houses the revered Black Madonna popularly known as “La Moreneta” in the basilica. Most tourists visit the monastery to see the black Madonna and whisper a prayer in her presence.
Montserrat is home to one of the oldest boys’ choirs in Europe the “Escalonia Boys’ Choir” whose members are aged between 10 to 14 years. The choir performs religious choral music in such melodious voices that are guaranteed to lift your spirits. These performances can be heard at no charge in the Basilica almost every day except Saturdays, July, August and some festive periods of the year.
One other important sacred site is the cave on the mountain, the Holy Grotto known as Santa Cova. Legend has it that the image of the Virgin Mary was found here. The Holy Grotto is a holy place, frequented by pilgrims from all over the world.
The Museum de Montserrat boasts of a rich cultural heritage with some of the important collections of art including works by internationally renowned artists such as El Greco, Caravaggio, Picasso, Nonell and Monet to name a few.
Also of note, in 1987 Montserrat was declared a natural park to protect its unique geological features. The Parc Natural de la Muntanya de Montserrat is an attractive spot for hiking and to go on nature trails.
Related article: Montserrat’s mountain railways
How to get there
The most popular way to get to Monserrat from Barcelona is by train (The R5 Barcelona – Manresa line). It is by far the most affordable and fastest means with a travel time of up to an hour. The train station is located at Plaça Espanya. However, this train only goes as far as the bottom of the mountain.To get to the top, one must decide between taking a rack railway or a cable car.
Train tickets are sold at the train station and their prices vary depending on the combination of activities selected for the trip. For example, the ‘Tot Monserrat’ ticket (approx. 46,95 €) is an all-in-one ticket that covers a single return journey, the Rack Railway up to Montserrat Mountain, unlimited funicular rides on the mountain, entrance to the Monserrat museum and a Catalan buffet lunch. Often, with the help of station attendants, one should be able to select the ticket most suitable for the activities intended.
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*Main photo by Jordi@photos via Visualhunt