Montserrat is a stunning mountain range located about an hour’s train ride from Barcelona. It is home to a beautiful monastery that attracts thousands of visitors every year. If you’re looking for a day trip from Barcelona that combines natural beauty, history, and culture, Montserrat Monastery is a must-visit destination. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to get there, the history of the monastery, the elevation, activities on site, popular hikes, if you can hike to Montserrat on foot, and what dining options are available on site.
How to Get There
To get to Montserrat by train, head to the Plaça Espanya train station in Barcelona. You can take the R5 line towards Manresa, and get off at the Aeri de Montserrat station. This station is located at the base of the mountain, and from here, you can take the cable car or the cogwheel train to reach the monastery. The cable car takes about 5 minutes to reach the top, while the cogwheel train takes about 15 minutes.
History of the Monastery
Montserrat Monastery was founded in the 11th century and has been a significant religious site for centuries. The monastery is dedicated to the Virgin of Montserrat, and it is believed that the Virgin appeared to shepherds on the mountain in the 9th century. The monastery has played a significant role in Catalan culture and history, and it was also an important site during the Spanish Civil War. Today, it is still a working monastery, and visitors can attend mass and see the Black Madonna, a statue of the Virgin Mary.
The highest peak in the Montserrat mountain range is Sant Jeroni, which stands at 1,236 meters (4,055 feet) above sea level. The monastery itself is located at an elevation of about 720 meters (2,360 feet) above sea level. This elevation offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the city of Barcelona in the distance.
Activities on Site
When you arrive at the monastery, there are plenty of things to do and see. Here are some of the highlights:
- Basilica: The Basilica is the heart of Montserrat Monastery, and it’s home to the famous Black Madonna statue. The statue is believed to have miraculous powers, and it’s a significant religious site for Catholics. The basilica itself is an impressive building, with Gothic and Renaissance architectural elements. If you’re lucky, you may also get to hear the Escolania de Montserrat choir, which is one of the oldest boys’ choirs in Europe.
- Montserrat Museum: The Montserrat Museum is located near the basilica, and it houses a vast collection of art and artifacts. The museum’s collection includes works by artists such as Caravaggio, El Greco, and Picasso, as well as ancient artifacts from Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
- Hiking: If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be in heaven in Montserrat. There are several hiking trails that range from easy to challenging, and they offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. One of the most popular hikes is the Sant Jeroni trail, which takes you to the highest point of Montserrat (1,236 meters above sea level) and offers breathtaking views of the Catalan countryside.
Funiculars at Montserrat Monastery:
- Funicular de Sant Joan: This funicular takes you from the monastery to the top of the mountain, where you can access several hiking trails and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The funicular has been in operation since 1918 and is one of the oldest in Spain.
- Funicular de la Santa Cova: This funicular takes you from the monastery to the small chapel of Santa Cova, which is built into a cave and is said to be the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to a group of shepherds in the 9th century. The funicular was built in 1929 and offers a quick and easy way to access the chapel without having to hike up the mountain.
Both funiculars are operated by Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC), which is the regional rail operator for Catalonia. They are a convenient and fun way to get around Montserrat Monastery and explore the surrounding area.
How Much it costs
While there is no admission fee to enter Montserrat Monastery or to access the grounds and many of the attractions, some of the attractions, such as the funiculars and some of the exhibitions, do have a fee. Here are some of the current prices:
- Funicular de Sant Joan: One-way ticket costs €7.65 for adults and €6.65 for children (ages 4-13) and seniors (ages 65 and up). A round-trip ticket costs €11.90 for adults and €10.40 for children and seniors.
- Funicular de la Santa Cova: One-way ticket costs €5.75 for adults and €4.95 for children and seniors. A round-trip ticket costs €8.60 for adults and €7.40 for children and seniors.
- Montserrat Museum: Admission costs €8.50 for adults and €6.50 for students and seniors.
- Audio guide for the Basilica and Montserrat Museum: This costs €5.50 per person.
It’s worth noting that these prices are subject to change, so it’s a good idea to check the official Montserrat Monastery
Montserrat is a popular destination for hikers, with a variety of trails for all skill levels. The most popular hike is the trail to Sant Jeroni, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The trail is about 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) long and takes about 3 hours to complete. There are also shorter hikes, such as the Camí de les Bateries, which is a 30-minute walk that offers beautiful views of the monastery and the surrounding countryside.
Can You Hike to Montserrat on Foot?
While it is possible to hike to Montserrat on foot, it is not recommended for most visitors. The trails are steep and can be challenging, especially for inexperienced hikers. Additionally, the weather can be unpredictable, and hikers should be prepared for changing conditions.
There are several dining options available at Montserrat, including a self-service restaurant and a café. The self-service restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including Catalan specialties such as paella and botifarra. The café offers lighter fare, such as sandwiches and pastries. There are also several food stalls near the monastery that sell local products such as honey, cheese, and wine.
A day trip to Montserrat from Barcelona is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in natural beauty