For a fantastic break from the hustle and bustle of the city of Barcelona, take a full day to visit Montserrat. You will not be disappointed as there is so much beauty to see, wonderful hiking and interesting things to do.
But you may have heard of Montserrat before. If you are like me, you might have thought its was in the Caribbean. There is an island there called Montserrat. It was named by Columbus in 1493 - because he thought it resembled this remarkable place. Believe me, this is nothing like the island in the Lesser Antilles.
Getting There is Half the Fun!
You can take a bus or drive to the foot of Montserrat, but for a more relaxing day take the train. When traveling to Montserrat from Barcelona, take the red or green metro line to Plaça d’Espanya Barcelona Station. Here you will find a tourists information desk and electronic ticketing for Montserrat Express.
The Montserrat Express tickets include round-trip train from Barcelona to Montserrat station (Monistrol de Montserrat at the base of Montserrat mountain), a Round-trip on the rack or cog railway (Cremallera de Montserrat) which is a mountain train, that takes you from the Monistrol de Montserrat train station up the mountain to the Benedictine Monk Monastery. The express ticket also includes an audio guide on Montserrat and discounts for funicular railroad on top of the mountain.
Once you have your tickets, find track 3 or 4 in the station and take the R5. Depending on your arrival time to Plaça d’Espanya station, you may have to wait - but never more than an hour for the next train to Monistrol de Montserrat.
After about 20 stops, you will come to the mountain. As you approach Montserrat, be advised there are two stops with considerable distance between them. Aeri de Montserrat is for the cable car ticket holders and Monistrol de Montserrat is for the rack train Cremallera de Montserrat. Both take you to the same location - to the the gorgeous Benedictine Monk Monastery near the top of the Montserrat.
What to Do?
Montserrat literally means serrated mountain. Sedimentary rock raised up from sea forming this large outcropping and one of the highest points in Catalonia. describes its peculiar aspect with a multitude of rock formations that are visible from a great distance. The mountain is composed of strikingly pink conglomerate, a form of sedimentary rock.
What to Do?
Once you arrive at Montserrat you can visit the Benedictine Abbey and the Basilica of the Black Madonna of Montserrat, also known as Santa Maria de Montserrat, and the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary. Many believe that the statue of Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus have healing powers. There can be a long line to see the Black Madonna, so it is best to go early if possible. You will find two lines entering the church - one for the Black Madonna and another to enter into the basilica. You cannot visit both from the same line.
The abbey contains over 300,000 books and numerous pages of sheet music. It is a spiritual community open to all with ecumenical and interfaith sharing. You will also want to visit the Montserrat museum, which opened in the early 1900s. The museum contains artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, and local Catalan artist.
Hiking on top of Montserrat is spectacular. Some choose to hike up the mountain in leu of the cable car or rack railroad. You definitely want to take the funicular railroad to the very top of Montserrat where you can enjoy fantastic views off both side of the mountain. Once you are on top of Montserrat, there are miles of hiking available to you. One of the great walks is to the Cross of Saint Michael, which takes you to one of the highest points on the mountain. You will find stunning views of the valley and awesome view back toward the monastery in all directions on the many trails and hikes on top of the mountain.
Visiting Montserrat is a full day adventure. You can bring a picnic with you, however there is a cafeteria that offers nice sandwiches and a variety of other food. There’s a very nice restaurant at the hostel. Travel time is about 1 1/2 hours for a train to get to Montserrat and an additional 30 minutes for the cable car or the cog railway. You can view the main sites at Montserrat within a few hours. But if you intend to enjoy some of the hiking you need to add several more hours to your journey.
If you love hiking, make sure to add several hours to your journey!
Enjoy yourself, but don't bother to go if you are in a rush. It is a full day of adventure that is meant to be enjoyed, with relaxation!