If you feel like escaping from Barcelona (which of course sounds like a crazy idea, but maybe it is your case) a trip to Montserrat could be a great plan to perform.
If you have no clue of what Montserrat is, it is my pleasure to share this information with you.
Montserrat is a very unique mountain located only 50 km away from Barcelona. The mountain is 1200 meter – height, and as you can imagine, the top reveals a fantastic view on the beauty of Catalan region.
Its name, translated as Serrated Mountain explains the unique shape of this natural phenomenon, which was constructed by reckless endeavours of rain and wind.
There is another interpretation of the weird shape of mountain massive. The legend tells that there was a beautiful, rich and very sinful city on that spot. So God punished the city for its sins and buried the city making the mountain swung on itself.
And what we can see now are huge “roots”, carved by angels to give the mountain the current look. Isn’t it a romantic explanation? So beware of too sinful cities, fortunately, Barcelona is not there yet.
The lappets of the mountain carefully hold a Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, which is not a specific architectural landmark as it is but a great spiritual attraction since antiquity.
The majority of tourists travel only to see and touch the statue of the Black Madonna, patron saint of Catalonia. The origin of this beautiful lady dates back to the 12th century and also carries a lot of legends with it.
The statue of Black Madonna thrones above the altar in the basilica of the monastery, and there is always a long queue to approach the image and touch her hand in order to share your most intimate dreams.
Sometimes it takes too long to do it, but take advantage of standing in line: feel the electric energy of the place and observe surrounding including the fascinating stairway and altar itself.
Why is Madonna black, you might be asking yourself… No exciting or equality-struggle stories behind it, it has just simply darkened over time.
If you are lucky enough, you might experience beautiful singing of boys’ choir. Around 50 boys from the monastery’s boarding school fill the basilica with marvellous sounds of Gregorian chants.
It usually happens at 12:00, but it may vary, so you’d better figure out the exact time in case you don’t want to miss the performance.
You can also visit Museum of Montserrat monastery, which embraces works of such major artists as Dali, El Greco, Monet or Giordano. If you are a fan of odds and ends you might also be interested in liturgical and archaeological exhibits.
As far as you get what you wanted from the monastery, you can have a stroll along hiking trails of the Montserrat natural park. From the monastery there are 300 meters left to reach the peak, so you can pick among different-length hiking trails and reach the top of the mountain.
The stroll itself is very pleasant: you can breathe fresh air, enjoy beautiful views and feel yourself very fit and sporty. Though hiking trails are very well developed, make sure to have comfortable shoes and be prepared to make a physical effort to go up the hill.
As far as you overcome this challenge you will be generously rewarded by the magnificent views of the Catalunya and maybe you will even manage to enjoy some moments of tranquillity, in case you visit the spot during the offseason period.
How to get to Montserrat
You need to get to Plaza Espanya subway station (where Montjuic and Magic Fountain can be found) and get a train in the direction of Manresa. Your line is R5 and the train departs more or less every 40 minutes, starting from 08:30.
Depending on the season the timetable may vary, so check it out in case you are a devotee of precise planning and don’t feel like wandering around a platform.
The trip takes around 80 minutes and as you get into the train, try to sit next to the left window, since the views are genuinely breathtaking.
You can choose between two stations to get down, depending on how you want to continue your trip. “Aeri de Montserrat” station will bring you up the mountain on the cable car, but if you go one more stop to “Monistrol de Montserrat”, you will go all the way up to the monastery on the rack railway.
The price for a roundtrip ticket for rack railway is € 8.45, while a roundtrip ticket for a cable car is € 10. My personal preference is cable car because you feel like floating in the air while getting up, though rack railway is a lot of fun as well.
You can buy combined tickets to visit the mountain: Trans Montserrat or Tot Montserrat.
Trans Montserrat, which costs € 26.60 includes two metro rides, the train ride to Montserrat and back, the ride with the funicular (Aeri) or rack railway, the continuation with the funicular and the entrance to the audiovisual exhibition.
The Tot Montserrat costs € 42.65 and also includes the entrance to the museum and a menu at the restaurant. But I am honestly not sure that the menu option is too thrilling. While buying a ticket you already should know which transport you want to use after the train: rack railway “Carmella” or funicular “Aeri”.
If you are in doubt, inside Plaza Espanya station there is a tourist information booth, where English speaking personnel will kindly explain you all the subtleties of the trip.
I hope now you made up your mind, whether you want to visit Montserrat Mountain. I’m convinced that if you want to diversify your Barcelona experience, this trip is a perfect thing to do it.
Only make sure that it is not too hot, or walking around the natural park would be just unbearable. The best months to visit Montserrat are from March to May and from September to November.
It’s not too hot, neither too cold and a number of people are not so overwhelming, so you’d get more chances to get the best experience possible.
Enjoy your little trips and read our blog in order to find out more about secret spots and cool joints of Barcelona.