Catalonia's Sacred Mountaintop
We decided we needed a brief escape from the heat and crowds of Barcelona and in that quest I noted that every tour operator seemed to offer day trips to Montserrat and its Abbey. User comments on TripAdvisor confirmed that it was the highlight of the trip for many visitors.
Research concluded that, by happy coincidence, our hotel metro station was practically sitting on top of the R5 train line linking Barcelona to Montserrat.
The name Montserrat literally means "Saw (blade) Mountain." Which is a completely apt name for Spain's first National Park and home to a lovely and well cared for Santa Maria de Montserrat Benedictine Abbey.
Visiting the mountaintop abbey requires some creative travel. After riding the R5, you need to select either the Aeri cable car or a funicular (cogwheel) rail to complete the ascent. And once you reach the Abbey, there are two more funiculars from the Abbey that run up to the mountaintop (where you can hike to a mountaintop chapel), and another that goes down to the cave and shrine where in 880 reports of a miracle of light and angelic singing were reported ultimately leading to the creation of the abbey.
The Abbey expanded during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with its music school becoming world renowned.
During the French War (1808-1811) Napoleon made a point of completely destroying the Abbey. By 1881 the Abbey was rebuilt and consecrated by Pope Leo who pronounced the Image of Our Lady the Patron Saint of Catalonia. Identifying the site as distinctly Catalonian made it a potential target during the Spanish Civil War (think destruction of Segrada Famillia). So during the war the Abbey was abandoned. The Government of Catalonia, however, was able to save the Abbey from destruction.
So despite a thousand years and the ravages of history Montserrat and its Abbey are thriving and a delight to visit.
The Montserrat Abbey From the Summit
In the Sanctuary
(Above the Altar is the Chapel of Our Lady of Catalonia)
Mary With Child
(The Our Lady is a Pilgrimage for Thousands)
Mr. B on the Mountaintop
Commencing Our Return to Barcelona
Now the practical stuff. If you elect to travel by rail they offer two pretty amazing tour deals. The package we took (currently 26.60E) provided round trip rail to Montserrat plus two Metro rides and connection up the mountain by either funicular or cable car. Once you've reached the abbey you get one ride on both of the mountaintop funiculars and admission to the Abbey's multi-media presentation. Another more costly ticket (40E) offers unlimited access to the funiculars and cable car and adds admission to the museum and lunch at the Abbey.
Tomorrow is our last day in Barcelona. In the evening we fly to the Isla Laguna of Venezia.
Roadboy's Travels © 2013