The dramatic appearance of the jagged peaks of Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain has attracted the attention of spiritual leaders since ancient times. Many centuries ago, a group of Romans constructed a temple dedicated to the love goddess Venus near the summit of Montserrat. In 1025, an order of Benedictine monks erected a monastery to venerate the Virgin Mary known as Santa Maria de Montserrat.
The founding monks of Santa Maria de Montserrat believed that the mountain’s striking spiky peaks were carved by a team of angels with golden saws. Santa Maria de Montserrat remains a popular site of Christian pilgrimage. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the magnificent beauty of the serrated cliffs that surround the monastery.
Santa Maria de Montserrat is home to a wooden statute known as the Black Madonna. Christian pilgrims believe that the Black Madonna statue has healing properties. Visitors often touch the sphere in the Black Madonna’s hand which is said to represent the universe. Every afternoon, 50 choir boys with angelic voices from a music school that dates back to the 1300s known as Escolania de Montserrat sing the praises of the miraculous Black Madonna statue.
Montserrat is also home to an art museum that is located a short distance from Santa Maria de Montserrat. The Museum of Montserrat features works from masters such as Claude Monet, Picasso, and El Greco. The museum also highlights the history of Catalonia and the works of regional artists such as Roma Ribera.
The peaks of Montserrat offer a stunning view of nearby Barcelona. Visitors can travel to Montserrat by train. A train ride from Barcelona to Montserrat generally takes a little over one hour. The town of Montserrat features a cable car that transports travelers up the mountain to Santa Maria de Montserrat and the surrounding peaks.
Montserrat is home to several hiking trails. Locating the trailheads can be slightly tricky and some of the terrain is rocky and quite steep, but the panoramic views that hikers experience while trekking up the mountain are second to none. If you’re planning to go hiking, make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes and pack plenty of water. Even Montserrat’s easy trails require concentration and steady steps.
No trip to Barcelona is complete without a short detour to visit the stately mountains looming in the distance. The sharp peaks of Montserrat will leave an indelible impression long after your return trip to Barcelona.