You will be taken in a private vehicle from Barcelona to the monastery of Montserrat. The road trip up the mountain is an unforgettable experience in itself. On clear days you will be able to see the Pyrenees Mountains; our natural frontier with France. Before reaching your final destination there will also be an opportunity to see the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa Cecilia.
You will start out on foot from the parking lot, heading straight for the ‘Apostles’ Viewpoint’ with its magnificent view of the mountains carved out over the centuries by the river Llobregat. On days of good visibility you will also be able to see the Mediterranean Sea and Barcelona in the distance. You will have a chance to see a work of modern art by the Catalan sculptor Josep Mª Subirachs named ‘The Ladder of Understanding’, sitting next to a gorgeous precipice and you will receive a detailed explanation about the piece.
From this vantage point you will also be able to make out The Holy Cave. Legend has it that in the year 880 some shepherd children stumbled across the original image of the black Madonna. From that day on the black Madonna has become sacrosanct as the patron saint of Catalonia.
Following that there will be a chance to visit an artisans’ open air market selling local produce; here you will learn a little more about the gastronomy of Catalonia.
You will call by the residence of the schoolboys’ choir, ‘L’Escolania’; this choir is one of the oldest in Europe and it sings in the basilica on a daily basis. Immediately after you will begin your tour of this millennial Benedictine monastery, snuggled within the mountain; ensconced within the gnarled needles of rock reaching for the sky.
You will learn all about the monastery’s history, the daily routine of its monks and about the different parts of the monastery: ‘La Plaza de Santa María’ (St Mary’s Square), St. George’s Square and the remains of the old cloisters dating from the 15th century. You will also be able to inspect the various tombs of the nobility of the Kingdom of Aragon and the basilica’s atrium with its magnificent porticoed courtyard, before finally entering the basilica to get a close up look at the Madonna and visit the various chapels dotted around the cathedral.
After this, and depending on the time, the weather and your preferences, your guide will take you to see the following sights:
– Climb the stairway to the throne of the Madonna and hear the choir sing (except Saturdays, during school vacations or whenever the choir is on tour).
– Visit the Museum of Montserrat and its outstanding collection of art from the 19th and 20th centuries containing works by Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Ramón Casas, Santiago Rusiñol and many others. The museum also plays host to an important archeological treasure trove from Ancient Egypt. Your guide will be delighted to show you around. (Entrance fee not included).
– Take an easy hike! You can take the funicular railroad and enjoy some amazing views a thousand meters above sea level. You will be able to visit some hermitages on foot and learn about the lives the ancient hermits. Above all, take in the beautiful views and the abundant wildlife of this unique National Park. (The price of the Funicular Railroad ticket not included).
– Follow in the footsteps of the ancient pilgrims on their old trails approaching the monastery and take a peek at the open air sculpture museum and Saint Michael’s viewpoint and its hermitage.