Discover Southern Europe, Issue 11, January 2020

Page 23

Discover Southern Europe  |  Experience Barcelona

The monastery of Montserrat.




Inner peace above the clouds Back in 1025, Abbot Oliba founded a monastery in Santa Maria de Montserrat. Today, it is an essential destination for many pilgrims. Montserrat will most definitely leave you speechless, astonished by its magnificent mountains and spiritual atmosphere. It is the perfect spot to disconnect from the city rush and enter a peaceful state of mind that will recharge your inner soul. TEXT: GERARD PLANA  |  PHOTOS: MONTSERRAT


f you are looking for some relaxation while visiting the busy city of Barcelona, take the FGC train from Plaça Espanya and, in less than an hour, you will end up somewhere truly magical. As the train approaches the natural park that is Montserrat, the mountains grow like rocky spikes in the middle of the green flatland. The aeri (cable car) or the cremallera (cable railway) bring you directly to the sanctuary, a Benedictine monastery hidden above the clouds.

Once there, you can go for a hike or stay at the sanctuary’s complex. There are many hiking routes, such as the hike to Sant Miquel or Sant Joan. However, if you don’t

feel like walking too much, you can ride a funicular to Sant Joan’s chapel, high in the mountains with astonishing views over the Catalan landscape. The mountains’ shape is also ideal for climbing. Montserrat is a cultural reference in Catalonia for its art and literature collection. The Benedictines’ library is one of the most significant ones in the region. The monks have taken care of it almost without interruption since the foundation of the monastery in 1025. They study history, theology and liturgy, among other sciences. Unfortunately, however, the library is not open to the public.

The museum, on the other hand, is open to everyone, and includes many pieces which they received as donations from private collectors. You can find a unique collection of masterpieces in this not-yet-so-renowned museum: Dalí, Caravaggio, El Greco, Picasso, and even archeological objects from Mesopotamia, Egypt or the Holy Land. Truth to be told, the whole of Montserrat is a museum in itself. Many pilgrims arrive in Montserrat to behold its most iconic masterpiece: La Moreneta, Catalonia’s patron saint. This statue was supposedly found in the Santa Cova, a chapel near the sanctuary up in the mountains. Every day at noon, one of the oldest boys’ choruses of Europe, L’Escolania, sings the traditional song El Virolai, Montserrat’s anthem. Accompanied by the glorious sound of the choir and the organ, this majestic abbey will really touch your soul. Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  23