A Day Trip From Barcelona: Montserrat
If you’ve read some other posts I wrote, you should know by know that whenever I stay in one city for at least a week, I end up looking for places nearby that I can visit. One of the things I love the most about Barcelona is that it’s located by the sea, but you can easily find yourself hiking in the mountains if you want to take a break from all the fun on the beach. One of those places is Montserrat, just 45 km away, where you can visit an impressive monastery built by the mountain and admire the stunning scenery.
The story of the monastery starts in 1025 (I wonder if they had dinosaurs back then!), when stories were told about the St. Mary the Virgin of Montserrat working miracles there and very soon pilgrims had started to show up. Known as Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, the monastery has seen a tumultuous history, with all the wars it barely survived from. It houses La Moreneta, the statue of the black Madonna, literally translating from Catalan as “The little dark-skinned one” and most people come to pray or simply admire it, so it’s best to arrive as early as you can (9 am, maybe) to avoid the crowds. The basilica is built in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance architecture styles and it will definitely impress you. Make sure you pause for a few moments to take it all in and when you are ready to see La Moreneta, keep in mind it’s on an upper level so you will have to climb a few steps.
One of the popular attractions in Montserrat is the Santa Cova or The Holy Grotto, a cave where the Mother of God once appeared. It is accessible by a funicular but it was closed when we went and we were too tired to walk. Next time!
From the monastery there are about 300 meters to the top of the mountain and you can take a funicular, but why do that when you can hike and admire the unusual rock formations and the breathtaking view? Up there you will find the chapel of Sant Joan and wonder how such a serene place can exist only an hour away from the vibrating city of Barcelona.
How to get there
The most popular way is the train, it’s a fast and relatively cheap option. It departs from the Plaza Espanya, where you need to look for the R5 line heading towards Manresa (departure times: 08:36, 09:36, 10:36, 11:36, 11:56, 12:36, 12:56, 13:36, 13:56, 14:36, 15:56, 16:36). There are two stops, one for the cable car, one for the rack railway, called Cremallera, both heading to Montserrat, but we found the first one more interesting (it won’t work if you’re afraid of heights though…). There are two popular choices of tickets, the Trans Montserrat one and the ToT Montserrat one. Here is what each one includes:
- Trans Montserrat – €26.60 – return train tickets, a ticket for either the cable car or the rack railway, two different return funicular trips and two free metro rides
- ToT Montserrat – €42.65 – meaning “everything Montserrat” (in Catalan AND Romanian!), this includes buffet lunch at the restaurant and entrance at the Montserrat museum, in addition to everything the first ticket has. This is the one we chose and the lunch was great!
You can buy tickets from the tourist information desk at the Espanya station, just be aware of pickpockets!
Have you been or would you like to visit this stunning place on a day trip from Barcelona?