A DAY TRIP TO MONTSERRAT
We were lucky to have enough time in Barcelona to plan a day trip and, without a doubt in our minds, we chose Montserrat. In all of my research everything pointed to the Benedictine Abbey-Santa Maria de Montserrat. The monetary is the location of “Our Lady of Montserrat” aka the Virgin of Montserrat, and is a very important destination for religious retreats and pilgrimages. Not to mention, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.
The day we went to Montserrat was a whirlwind - we honestly weren’t even planning to head there. We went to the Barcelona Sants train station with every intention of going to Girona for the day, but we had missed the train and the next one wasn’t for another hour and a half. When I saw that the next train for Montserrat was in 15 minutes we decided to be spontaneous and just do it! We probably took the hard way, since all of the guide books say to leave from Plaça d’Espanya, but it wasn’t really that crazy of a trip. We headed towards Manresa where we transferred to a train taking us to the Montserrat cable car. You do have an option to take an old-fashioned train up the windy mountain, which we did on the way home, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take this awesome cable car ride. Luckily, when we arrived there were only two other people waiting for the cable car so we were essentially alone. The car can fit a ton of people and being squished in there probably would’ve freaked me out!
As we slid up the cable we got closer to the beautiful rock formations that surround the monastery - they almost looked like tall men towering over us! When we arrived at the top we not only had breathtaking views, but also the beautiful architecture of the Basilica to admire. The Basilica was built in 1900 and is a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic architecture. On the way inside there were so many beautiful paintings, sculptures, iron lanterns, and chapels dedicated to different saints that it was hard to focus on where we were walking! The walk ultimately leads you to the Virgin of Montserrat, one of the Black Madonnas of Europe, which is in an alcove above an altar. The coolest part of seeing this sculpture was hearing the legend that it was originally carved in Jerusalem and found in the 9th century in the caves of Santa Cova Montserrat. When shepherds tried to move the statue it suddenly became too heavy to carry, and since then it has been at the monastery. It was honestly a very magical moment when we approached the sculpture of the Virgin - there is a small hole in the glass so that you can touch it and we each did so and said a prayer. Afterwards we walked down the Cami de l’Ave Maria, where you can light candles for the Virgin Mary and pray. It was truly beautiful and so spiritual, no matter what religion you practice.
Across from the Basilica there is a museum filled with works from famous Catalan artists as well as a few from Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, and Dali. Ryan had never seen any of these artists’ works in person so this was a very special moment to be able to see them together. There were also artifacts from ancient times and in one room we found a mummified corpse! That was pretty crazy for both of us to see and we may have spent a bit longer staring at that exhibit! Ryan swears that the drawings showed UFOs soaring above the Egyptian people.
After exploring the museum we visited the courtyard, which offered even more magnificent views of the valley below us. We saw a few different options of hikes we could take and decided to hike to the Cross of San Miguel. Well, LET ME TELL YOU! If you didn’t know, I am very scared of heights. Not that I’m scared of being up high, but I am scared of falling to my death. I don’t know if you remember my post about driving the deathly road on our way to Big Sur … this was probably second on my list to that for most terrified I have ever been. The hike to the Cross was perfectly normal, and very beautiful I might add. But once we got close to the Cross, which is located on the point of a VERY high cliff, it was extremely windy. And when I say extremely I mean EXTREMELY! I almost started to cry and Ryan was making fun of me! But I powered through it and it was really very beautiful. I don’t think I will ever go on such a memorable hike in my life, but I will try!
We headed back down the mountain as the sun began to set and took the train down the windy mountain track into the town of Montserrat, enjoyed a well-deserved drink and walked through the streets before heading back to Barcelona for the evening. Looking back on our entire trip this spontaneous day was both of our absolute favorites! Maybe we should be spontaneous more often!
If you find yourself in Barcelona I would not miss Montserrat. It is so high on my favorite places I have ever been and if it was Ryan's favorite part of the trip I think it might just be yours as well! And, as always, if you have recommendations for our next trip please send them my way!