The black Madonna of Montserrat
Montserrat is an exceptionally beautiful monastery to the north of Barcelona.
Many tourists from Spain and all over the world consider this mountain retreat of the Benedictine monks as one of the highlights in their visit to Catalunya. The monastery is of significant religious importance and pilgrims come to see the black Madonna from all over Spain and Europe.
This religious retreat is also of great cultural importance. Watching the sunrise from the mountains of Montserrat is something many youngsters from Barcelona and other cities in Catalunya aspire.
The unusual rock formation of Montserrat is the highest point of the lowlands of Catalunya and plays an important role in the spiritual and cultural life in this part of the country. The natural beauty and the views from Sant Jeroni, the highest peak of the mountain range are incredible.
There are several hiking trails along the spectacular rock formations offering breathtaking views of the surroundings. It is also possible to take the Sant Joan funicular to the summit and walk down along some of the trails leading down to the monastery. Along the way it is possible to see climbers, because Montserrat is a popular destination amongst climbers, alpinists and mountaineers. There is information about the various routes available at the valley station of the cable car.
The history of the monastery is very interesting. According to the legend a group of shepherds heard angels singing in the mountains of Montserrat and saw a bright light, that descended from the skies. The shepherd children told their parents about this vision and believed this was a sign of God. Later on an image of the Virgin Mary was found in the cave where these visions occurred. The cave became a sanctuary and can still be visited today.
Montserrat is a recommended daytrip if you are visiting Barcelona. Staying overnight in Montserrat is only possible in the Cisneros Abbey. Bring your hiking shoes if you intend to hike some of the trails of Montserrat and don't forget to take sufficient water with you, especially in the summer months when it can get occasionally hot in Barcelona.