Montserrat is a rocky massif traditionally considered the most important and significant mountain of Catalonia (Spain).
Historically it has been one of the most representative places of the Catalan identity, associated with the singularity of its mountains and the defense that has always been realized from the monastery of the Catalan language and culture.
The main attraction of the mountains, besides the curious mountain form of its mountains, would be the monastery dedicated to the Mare de Déu de Montserrat built in the eleventh century. Enclave both of monks with a collected and reflective life, as of pilgrims with different purposes for the virgin.
According to the legend was found the image of the virgin in the Holy Cave, Montserrat has been linked with spirituality. In addition to the monastery, the mountain has a number of small churches and emits, some abandoned, such as Santa Cecilia, Sant Benet, Sant Joan or Sant Jeroni.
What to see in Montserrat?
1. Monastery of Montserrat
The Monastery of Santa María de Montserrat is a Benedictine monastery located in the Montserrat mountain, in the municipality of Monistrol de Montserrat, at an altitude of 720 m above sea level. It is a symbol for Catalonia and has become a point of pilgrimage for believers and a must visit for tourists.
The legend places the discovery of the image of the Virgin of Montserrat around 880. Then began the cult of the Moreneta, which materialized in four first hermitages in the ninth century: St. Mary, St. Acisclo, St. Peter and St. Martin. However, the origin of the monastery is uncertain: it is known that around 1011 a monk from the monastery of Santa María de Ripoll came to the mountain to take charge of the monastery of Santa Cecilia, leaving the monastery under the orders of Abbot Oliba Of Ripoll. Santa Cecilia did not accept this new situation, reason why Oliba decided to found the monastery of Santa Maria in the place where was an old hermitage of the same name (1025). The monastery soon became a sanctuary. This fact led to an increase in the donations and alms received, and allowed a constant growth of both the religious area and the influence in the territory.
The monastery was looted and burned at various historical moments, and many of its treasures were lost.
2. Escolanía de Montserrat
The Choir of Montserrat is a choir of children, of white voices, that sings daily in the Basilica of Montserrat, often with a great influx of pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. It is one of the most prestigious musical institutions in Europe. Escolania is the oldest in Europe and still survives since the Middle Ages. It is known of its existence by a written document of 1703. Created under the protection of the Benedictine high monastery of the mountain, like so many others at the service of the communities and the cathedrals, dedicated to the religious cult, after many vicissitudes and transformations still lends today Religious service in the Sanctuary.
To see the schedules of the Escolanía de Montserrat you can visit its website www.escolania.cat
3. Montserrat Museum
During the nineteenth century the monastery was destroyed and suppressed, and lost all its historical heritage. All that is currently in the Montserrat Museum is the result of new acquisitions and donations of individuals in a recovery environment and significant presence in Catalan society with European and worldwide irradiation.
In 1963 the Montserrat Museum was born, with the archaeological materials of the Near East and the paintings of the Renaissance and the Baroque that were inside the monastery. Since then, it has been expanded with an important collection of paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, which come from donations from artists from all over the world.
An incredible place for lovers of history and art, but nobody will stay the same after having visited it.
If you want to know more about the Montserrat Museum, you can visit its website www.museudemontserrat.com.
4. Mirador de Sant Jeroni
Sant Jeroni is the highest peak of the rocky massif of Montserrat, with a height of 1,236 m. Near the top there was a hermitage (later reconverted into a restaurant), there is also a chapel and the Funicular Air Station of San Jeroni.
At the top there is a geodesic vertex and it is considered as the highest point of the surroundings. The mountain of Montserrat surprises anyone who visits it for the first time and is an inexhaustible source of natural routes to discover. Once you reach the summit the views are spectacular, the landscape becomes the viewpoint of Catalonia, from where you can get to see Mallorca in the clearest days.
To get there, it can be done in two ways: Walking along a route that passes through the middle of the mountain, where you will enjoy the beautiful scenery, or with the Aerial Funicular de Sant Jerónimo. The first one begins at a few stairs that leave to the left of the source of the Portal, to the west of the sanctuary.
5. Funicular de Sant Joan
The Funicular of San Joan is one of the funiculars of Montserrat along with the zipper of Montserrat and the funicular of the Santa Cueva. The first Funicular of San Joan was inaugurated in 1918 and communicated the external part of the Monastery of Montserrat with the hermitage of San Joan (1000 m), that by its situation in the high part of the massif was used to construct a viewpoint and a restaurant.
This funicular offers a breathtaking view of the Montserrat mountain and the monastery in bird’s eye view.
And at the top, visitors can do some of the excursions or walks that are signposted, with different levels of difficulty and duration, so that they are adapted to all audiences. In addition, from the viewpoint you can enjoy incomparable views.
6. Aeri de Montserrat
Aeri de Montserrat is an aerial funicular that connects the railway station Aeri de Montserrat with the monastery. It was inaugurated in 1930 and currently still offers its service with the original facilities. It allows to climb the mountain comfortably in just 5 minutes and from there you can enjoy incredible views and make some great photos.
Every 15 minutes a booth comes out and parking is free. You can buy the tickets on their website www.aeridemontserrat.com.
7. Santa Cueva de Montserrat
The Holy Cave of Montserrat is the place where the image of the Virgin of Montserrat was found in 880, origin of its cult and its consecration as patroness of Catalonia. Its discovery turned the place into a center of pilgrimage and propitiated the construction of the Monastery of Montserrat.
Legend has it that in the year 880, on a Saturday night, some shepherd boys saw a great light descending from the sky, accompanied by a beautiful melody, which stood halfway up the mountain. The next week they returned with their parents and the vision repeated itself. It also happens the following weeks with the company of the rector of Olesa de Montserrat. Aware of the event, the bishop of Manresa appeared; Then they found a cave in which the image of Santa Maria remained. They tried to transfer it in procession to Manresa, but the attempt was unsuccessful, so they understood the divine will: that image was to be venerated in the mountain of Montserrat.
The Santa Cueva is accessed through the Santa Cueva Trail, which is excavated in the mountain, along the Massif de Montserrat; Was built between 1691 and 1704 thanks to the patronage of Gertrudis de Camporrells, Marchioness of Tamarit. During your tour you can see the Monumental Rosary of Montserrat, set of several sculptural groups dedicated to the Rosary and the fifteen mysteries of the Virgin, built between 1896 and 1916.
8. Santa Cecilia
Around the year 900 is mentioned for the first time the church of Santa Cecilia de Montserrat, located near the Monastery. Santa Cecilia de Montserrat is a more than millennial place full of spiritual, historical and artistic significance.
The Montserrat Museum has created the Institute of Art and Spirituality Sean Scully with the aim of promoting the cultivation of spiritual and artistic values among artists, students of Fine Arts, students of Art History, lovers and students of philosophy interested in Aesthetics, musicians and conservatory students and, in general, people who make art, music and artistic beauty an axis of inner growth in their life.
You can visit his web www.santaceciliamontserrat.com
9. Road of Degotalls
A good way to reach the monastery is by the path of the Degotalls. It is a flat and very entertaining way, ideal to do with children. Plain, pleasant and that is crossed between mosaics that we find along the way praising to virgins of several towns of Catalonia.
On the way to the Degotalls there are also a number of monuments that honor the memory of different intellectuals and cultural activists that made possible the recovery of the national feeling from the nineteenth century. At the entrance there is a monument dedicated to Jacinto Verdaguer, in front, we can read the «Song of the Moreneta». In a first version, this poem was written by the poet in the visitors’ album of Montserrat, without dating it and hiding behind the generic signature of a mountain priest. Halfway we will find a metallic star dedicated to Anselm Maria Clavé who, in 1856, was the first to dedicate a poem to the Virgin, later turned into a heart for her singers.
10. Cuevas del Salnitre
The interior of the emblematic mountain of Montserrat hides a network of caves that pierce it, making it hollow and propitiating many stories and legends around it. One of those caves, the most outstanding for its size and history, is the Cave of Salnitre or Cave of Collbató.
The abundance of bats, in other times, led to the accumulation of their excrements which, when decomposed on the calcareous rock rich in phosphates, formed potassium nitrate, better known as salnitre (in Catalan) or saltpeter; Hence the name of the cave.
The saltpeter was extracted from the cave for use as a food preservative and as the main ingredients of black powder.
Among the visits to the cave are those of famous people such as Jacinto Verdaguer, Santiago Rusiñol and even Gaudí, who say that the cave forms served as inspiration for the design of the Sagrada Familia.