No trip to Barcelona is complete without an excursion to Montserrat. It had been recommended many times so finally we got the train from Plaça d’Espanya. The ticket price included a transfer onto the rack railway at Monistrol de Montserrat for the steep climb up the mountain.
But in our eagerness to arrive we got off the train too soon. This was the station for the cable car. It was also the station for those who got off at the wrong station, all of us waiting for the next train.
Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain located near the city of Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain… It is well known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary and which is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail…
Click on the photo above for a closer view. The Abbey of Montserrat can just be seen on the edge of the mountain, towards the right hand side of the picture. The Cremallera rack railway snakes its way up from the river valley below, on a spectacular winding ascent.
The building below, with the red roof, labelled Teleferic de Montserrat, is the cable car station.
The view from above is breathtaking.
The view turned on its head is exhilarating.
The gatehouse in Plaça de Santa Maria. This is the entrance, via an enclosed atrium, to the Basilica.
Montserrat is considered to be the holiest place in Catalonia. At the heart of the Basilica is the shrine of La Moreneta, the Black Madonna, patron saint of the Catalans.
She is displayed in a special niche above the altar.
She sits with the child Jesus on her lap, enclosed in a glass case, but with a small opening so that pilgrims might kiss the orb in her right hand. We declined a kiss but touched with our fingertips.
Votive candles and fire extinguishers.
The logo reads as a drawing of the mountain and a drawing of a hand, one finger pointing to heaven.
Montserrat literally means ‘serrated mountain’, so called because of its many peaks and crazy rock formations, and in the museum there was an exhibition by an artist who had climbed most of them.
The Museu de Montserrat also has a large permanent collection of paintings, including works by Caravaggio, El Greco, Picasso, Dalí, Tàpies and La Montaña De Oisín, donated by Sean Scully.
If we’d had more time we could have taken the funicular railway up to the top of the mountain, high above the monastery, and walked the sea of stone to holy caves and hermitages and amazing views.
We could have walked to the chapel of Santa Cecília, an outpost of the Abbey of Montserrat, two miles to the north. But we would probably have found it closed. It is being restored and transformed with an installation of specially commissioned works by Sean Scully. It is due to reopen on 30 June 2015, the artist’s 70th birthday, as Santa Cecília de Montserrat Institut Art i Espiritualitat Sean Scully.
The church is consecrated to Santa Cecília, the patron saint of music.
14 Stations of The Cross
Languores et luctus humani generis in cruce Christi, unde salus, vita et pax
Montserrat, The Sacred Mountain, a short film by Calidos