Montserrat at Last

September 10, 2006 at 11:12 am 2 comments

I think Alex and I deserve a pat on the back. We have been planning to visit Montserrat since the beginning of the summer and we finally made it. It’s only a 1 hour train ride from Barcelona so there is no problem getting there we just got sidetracked every time we’d plan the trip. We caught the train at the station in Placa Espanya and got off at Monistrol. In the station at Placa Espanya, you can buy all types of tickets to Montserrat. Various options include access to museums, the funiculars, and the train from Monistrol, even the metro in Barcelona. We purchased the 18 Euro one but prices are a low as 6 or 7 Euros. When we arrived at Monistrol, the train to take us up the mountain was waiting for us. It appears that the two trains are synchronized for minimum connection times. Even the return journey was synchronized.

Montserrat is very impressive as you approach Monistrol. The peaks and rock formations are very unique and can be seen from a fair distance away. The main attraction of Montserrat however, is not the mountain itself but the Benedictine abbey that is built there. The original abbey and surrounding buildings were mostly destroyed by Napoleon in 1811. It was restored in the 19th and 20th century but I’ll use another post to elaborate the interesting history of Montserrat.

The ride up the mountain is quite something. The train itself uses a special geared rail in the centre of the tracks because of the steep angles it climbs. I would guess that this train is climbing near 30 degrees (it’s a guess) at some points. We arrived at the monastery and Alex headed off to the info booth to get some maps and then we headed to the cafeteria to eat. I was quite surprised at the prices. Lunch was not that expensive considering the amount of tourists that come to this site.

After lunch we took the funicular de Sant Joan to the top of the mountain. It’s an impressive view from there and it seemed to be the starting point for a lot of hiking trails. There are hundreds of hiking trails up here, all connecting and crossing and go for hundreds of kilometers. We had come to Montserrat on a discovery mission. We wanted to check it out so we could pick a nice trail in the future and spend a day walking in the mountains but we HAD to try at least one trail. We had a choice, one trail led up to the Sant Joan retreat and the other led back to the abbey. This is the trail that leads to Sant Joan.

We chose the one that led back to the abbey. It’s timed at 55 minutes and we stopped so often to check things out that I think the 55-minute time is VERY conservative. The trail is almost all downhill so not much effort is required.

We saw some interesting shapes in the deadwood along the trail.

When we arrived back at the abbey, Alex wanted to visit the basilica.

We actually went into the sanctuary where the Virgin of Montserrat is hosted. It’s an eerie feeling being there. There was a lineup but I don’t think it was even close to the normal line of pilgrims who visit this site.

Afterwards we walked around the abbey, went into the stores to see the tourists shop and went through an audio-visual display about the site. My camera battery died and that was it for photos (did I hear a big sigh of relief). This last photo was a corner of the original Cloisters. The only part that was left after Napoleon.

The trip home was as easy as going and on the train we met a really nice couple from Toronto. They were on a tour and had come on their own to see Montserrat for themselves. We had an interesting conversation with them and it seemed the trip home took far less time than going.

All in all a great day and I look foreword to going back and doing some trekking.

Entry filed under: Alan's Blog, Barcelona, Blog, Catalan, Churches, General Medieval, Hiking, History, Montserrat, Music, Parks, Spain, Train, Trekking, Virgin of Montserrat.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dana  |  September 10, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    One of the most amazing experiences I had in Spain was going to an impromptu outdoor electronic music festival near Montserrat. We arrived at night and I had no idea where we were, except for the fact that we had driven north from Valencia for about 3-4 hours. We parked, walked up a big hill to arrive at an area with a huge screen, lasers and house music blasting. Elsewhere at the site were more chilled out spaces set up as cafes and more dance stages.
    As the sun came up, I realized we were on the side of a mountain. And when I looked just to the north a bit, right in front of me was Montserrat!!! I almost fell over as I had NO idea that this is where we were! It was quite an incredible experience to see… and extremely beautiful! I didn’t make it to the monastery itself but hope to some day.

    Reply
  • 2. Richard A. Clark  |  September 4, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Would like to use a comment found in this article (on Montserrat)in a book I’m writing. How would I ask permission? Thanks. Richard A. Clark

    Reply

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