Montserrat Barcelona (literally translated as “sawed mountain”) is a 1200m high mountain located 50km Northwest of Barcelona. It is a multi-peaked mountain and is part of the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range. The main peaks are Sant Jeroni, Montgrós and Miranda de les Agulles. It hosts spectacular views with various nature walks to make a welcome break from the bustle of the big city. It also has religious significance with sacred history dating all the way back to 880 AD.
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The religious significance of the mountain revolves around the wooden statue of the Black Madonna (La Moreneta). It was discovered in 880 AD after a group of children were said to have repeatedly sighted a strange light falling from the sky. When the Bishop of Manresa and a group were convinced by the children to take a look, they discovered the wooden statue. This statue is said to have been made by St. Luke in around 50 AD and hidden here to protect it during the Moorish occupation.
The monastery was built and founded in 1025 and continues to attract pilgrims to this day. Montserrat grew in significance and, in 1493, Columbus even named an Antilles island after it., during the dictatorship of Franco the monastery become a sight of resistance. Hosting fairs in Catalan and it was even the site where the first bible in Catalan was published. It became an important symbol of Catalan resistance against the oppression.
Today many pilgrims make the visit to see the Black Madonna, alongside many tourists who come to admire the spectacular views and nature walks surrounding the monastery.
Activities and sights
Walks – There are many walks available for those who want to explore the mountain and enjoy the spectacular views. Amongst the most popular is Santa Cova which can be reached via funicular or exploring Sant Joan, which can also be reached via funicular or if you’re feeling particularly energetic by walking up to Sant Joan. From Sant Joan funicular station, you can find various walks including the one back down to the monastery where you can experience the amazing view. Bear in mind the running times of the funiculars are around 18.00 but be sure to check the timetables when you get there.
Monastery – This Benedictine monastery was founded in 1025 and is home to around 80 monks. The Basilica is open from 7.30am to 8.00pm and is free to visit. The angelic Escolania Boys choir can also be heard in the Basilica everyday at 1pm (except in July and during the Christmas holidays).
Black Madonna (La Moreneta) – The Black Madonna has been the patron saint of Catalonia since 1881 and is now located in the Basilica. Its original site of discovery can still be reached via funicular and via a walk down to Santa Cova. In the basilica it is located at the back through a door to the right. You may expect to wait during busy times, especially in the mornings as it is very popular with pilgrims and is located in just a small room.
How to get there
By Car – It is quite an easy journey to get to Monserrat by car. Simply take the A2 out of Barcelona and continue along until the Martorell exit. Then take the National Road N II until reaching the junction Montserrat. There are parking facilities next to the Monastery or free parking at Cremallera de Monistrol Vila (however, bear in mind that once the rack railway stops running the car park also closes).
By Train – This journey takes approximately 1.5 hours. From Plaça Espanya metro station you can catch the FGC R5 line in the direction of Manresa.
There are two ways to reach Montserrat – cable car or rack railway. Each of these have different stops on the FGC, so it would be wise to decide before travelling. For the cable car the stop is Aeri de Montserrat and for the rack railway continue on to Monistrol de Montserrat.
Address: Muntanya Montserrat, 08293, Barcelona, Spain.
There are two combined tickets available if you would like to save costs on transport and the funiculars.
1) Trans Montserrat – includes return train travel, two metro journeys, return rack railway or cable car travel, unlimited funicular journeys and entrance to the audiovisual exhibition. This ticket costs €27.50.
2) Tots Montserrat – includes all of Trans Montserrat plus entrance to the museum and lunch at the restaurant. This costs € 43.70.
Note that when you buy the tickets at Plaça Espanya station you need to specify if you are taking the cable car “Aeri” or the rack railway “Cremalia”.