The mountain of Montserrat, with its strangely shaped crags of rock, its monastery and ruined hermitage caves, stands just 40 km 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.
Montserrat is rich in history, Romans once constructed a temple here to worship Venus before the area later became a place of religious worship for Christians. The Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery was built for monks and is home to the famed statue of the Virgin Mary, proclaimed to perform miracles. The Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey is worth a visit for its spectacular architecture and gorgeous marble floors.
Hiking, or taking short walks, around Montserrat is an obvious choice. There are several footpaths and trails for all abilities. The most difficult route is to Sant Jeroni, and takes about 5 hours. The easiest is from the monastery to Degotalls. Each trail has beautiful views and is a great way to admire Montserrat in all its glory.
Featured Image, Santa Maria Montserrat © Pajor Pawel / Shutterstock