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Montserrat: A Mountain Monastery

Updated: Apr 30, 2022

As mentioned in other parts of the site we do tend to settle in to a place and travel outward. We spent six days in Barcelona and one of the day trips was hopping the train to the Abbey of Montserrat that is more formally known as Santa María de Montserrat- a monastery that began construction in 880 A.C.E. and is where you will find the 12th century statue of the 'Black Madonna', patron saint of Catalonia. To get to Montserrat you can hop the train from Plaça Espanya station - the FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat) on the R5 line in the direction of Manresa. The train departs hourly from 08:36. The trip takes a little over an hour and is quite scenic. Some train routes are hemmed in by trees or hedges - this trip gives one a good view of the surrounding countryside as you pass through small towns and farmland. Once you are at Montserrat there are two ways up (and down) - you can take the cable car (we recommend going up by cable car and down by the rack railway) from 'Aeri de Montserrat' train station. The rack railway comes down the opposite side of Montserrat and you arrive at the 'Monistrol de Montserrat' train station, which is one stop after 'Aeri de Montserrat'. The cable car and rack railway run every 20 minutes. The cable car is 10,00 Euro and the rack railway is 8,45 Euro. You can purchase a combo ticket Both are a lot of fun and well worth the money for the views alone. Click here for more information on tickets to/from Montserrat.

The cable car up from 'Aeri de Montserrat' train station - views going up are very good. Check out our video from Montserrat here - we grabbed some video on the way up in this cable car.

The Abbey of Montserrat - began construction in 880 A.C.E. and was completed later in the 12th century.

When we were up here we discovered they have an art museum with a very good collection - including Dali, Picasso, Monet and other old masters. The admission cost was quite reasonable as well - 7,00 Euro to get in and well worth it. We were a little impatient to begin our hiking around the area, so we did speed through the museum, but if you plan ahead give yourself a good hour or so to view the collection. The other nice feature of Montserrat is a cafeteria and coffee shop with possibly the best views you will find anywhere. Here are a couple of photos from the cafeteria - very good vegetarian options, which was a nice surprise.

The Montserrat Cafeteria with the amazing views. Trip Advisor reviews are mixed - we thought it was pretty decent for the money we spent - under 20,00 Euro for the two of us. Check out the restaurant info here. Angela is wearing her t-shirt she got from the 'David Bowie Is..." exhibit at the museum in Barcelona. That was an amazing day.

The hikes are all have religious themes steeped in Catholicism, which remains strong in Spain. We chose the 'Stations of the Cross' hike that takes you over to a 1000 year old church hanging off the side of the cliff. The views along the pathways are just stunning - this is one of those day trips that we still talk about regularly and remember vividly. Below are some pictures from the hike. There is an upper hike that we ran out of time for, but talking with other folks who had done the upper hike we intend on returning - sounds like we missed really incredible views - the one fellow said you could see Barcelona from the top of Montserrat. I believe him - even from where we were the distances you could see were quite something.

Known to the Romans as Mons Serratus (“Saw-Toothed Mountain”) and to the Catalans as Montsagrat (“Sacred Mountain”), it is famous for its unusual appearance and the Benedictine monastery of Santa María de Montserrat, which houses an ancient wooden statue of the Virgin and Child

The main square is a great place to grab a latte and people-watch.

Inside the courtyard of Santa María de Montserrat

View along the 'Stations of the Cross'

View along the 'Stations of the Cross'

View along the 'Stations of the Cross' - there are 12 statues/dioramas along the way depicting scenes from the Bible.

View along the 'Stations of the Cross' - very cool geographical area

View along the 'Stations of the Cross' - not a view that is easy to tire of.

View along the 'Stations of the Cross' - the little church from 1000 years ago that marks the end of the 'Stations of the Cross' hike/walk. This is quite an accessible walk. Minimal stairs and the pathway is pretty smooth. We did see people standing on the walls along the way for photos - however, the drop from some of these is 100s of meters, so don't be doing that.

View along the 'Stations of the Cross'

View along the 'Stations of the Cross'

Allow a full day to check out Montserrat; we left at 08:00 from Barcelona and were up at Montserrat by 11:00am. We had lunch and checked out the museum by 1:00, then spent 4 hours walking around the mountain. If you skip the museum and don't linger at lunch you could easily take in the 'Stations of the Cross' then head up the rack rail to the higher trails. We didn't really know what was all available here, so by the time we figured out there were upper paths to do it was already quite late in the day and we wanted to get back to Barcelona for dinner.

This is one of the little funiculars that take you to the upper trails on Montserrat.

If you are in Barcelona for more than a few days then the Benedictine monastery of Santa María de Montserrat is a memorable day trip. Total cost for the two of us - food and museum included, was just over 70,00 Euro.

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