The mountain of Montserrat, with its strangely shaped crags of rock, its monastery and ruined hermitage caves, stands just 40km northwest of Barcelona, off the road to Lleida. It’s the most popular day-trip from the city, reached in around ninety minutes by train and then cable car or rack railway for a thrilling ride up to the monastery. Once there, you can visit the basilica and monastery buildings, and complete your day with a walk around the woods and crags, using the two funicular railways that depart from the monastery complex. Inevitably, monastery and mountain are ruthlessly exploited as a tourist trip from the city or the Costa Brava, while the main pilgrimages take place on April 27 and September 8, but don’t be put off – the place itself is still magical and well worth a visit.

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