Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey is a beautiful monastery located on top of a mountain in Catalonia, Spain. It is only an hour drive from Barcelona which makes for a perfect day trip. Montserrat is the perfect place to get away from Barcelona and to enjoy a calmer and more relaxing atmosphere. It is also a popular place for group retreats and soul-searching.
How To Get There
Montserrat Monastery can be reached by car, train, cable car and funicular. If you are not scared of heights, I recommend driving to Aeri de Montserrat (cable car) where parking is free and take the cable car up to the monastery. Round trip ticket is only €10. This option will show you breathtaking views of the river, valley and mountains surrounding the Benedictine abbey.
The journey only takes five minutes but it will whisk you up into the mountains and will definitely make an unforgettable experience.
The very moment I stepped on Montserrat, I was transported to a different world. It felt like everything suddenly changed. The air was fresher, my mood brighter and it seemed as if I could actually touch the clouds.
What I Saw
I honestly can spend the entire day in Monserrat. I highly recommend taking your time if you decide to visit this heavenly place. As you can see, the mid-October weather was perfect. It was pretty cold while waiting for the cable car at the bottom of the mountain, and I was worried that it will be colder up at the monastery. Every time I do these high elevation trips, I’ve learned that it’s always colder on top. That was not the case here. It was warmer and drier!
Even though this place is a big tourist destination, I didn’t mind it at all. I think we got lucky and missed whatever big tourist and school crowds the place normally gets.
The amazing rock formations are truly breathtaking. I can spend hours just hanging out and looking at this view. There are also hiking trails in the area if you are an outdoor enthusiast. If you do decide on spending the day in Montserrat, there’s a big cafeteria where you can buy drinks and food. There is also a gift shop for souvenirs and a museum you can visit as well. It’s like its own little city!
The most popular sculpture in Montserrat is the ‘Stairway to Understanding’, located in the Apostles’ Square. Normally, visitors can climb on it but of course it was under construction when I went. Story of my life.
The ‘Stairway to Understanding’ is composed of eight rectangular blocks formed like a flight of stairs. They represent different levels of understanding: Stone, Flame, Plant, Beast, Man, Sky, Angel, God.
After taking in all the panoramic views, we walked to the basilica and sat down for a few minutes since a mass was going on.
Montserrat is a beautiful destination but let’s not forget that it is more than just that. Devout Catholics flock to the monastery for prayer and pilgrimage. On the way back from the basilica, I’ve witnessed several devotees in prayer even outside the church. It reminded me of the places I went to as part of our school retreats when I was in Catholic School. Only Montserrat is ten times grander and bigger!
What I Missed
My visit was short so I missed out on a few significant things about the monastery:
The Virgin of Monserrat – The famous statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus which existed since the 700s. The Virgin Mary is the patron saint of Catalonia.
The Boys Choir – The renowned boys choir of Montserrat is called L’Escolania. If you absolutely want to witness them sing, make sure to check their schedule.
Montserrat is the kind of place where you should really take your time to explore and enjoy. After spending a couple of hours walking in the clouds, my friends and I headed to the small country of Andorra where I met the most passionate soccer fans.