Montserrat is nothing short of magical and mystic.
On a recent trip to Spain, I learned that there’s a beautiful mountain range and monastery about 45 minutes away from Barcelona, called Montserrat.
Little did I know it was going to be one of the most rewarding and enchanting places I’ve ever experienced, full of history, culture, and beautiful views of the Catalonia region (the monastery and surrounding buildings have been around since 1025!).
Here are 11 wonderful and wondrous facts about Montserrat, Spain.
Montserrat means “saw mountain” in Catalan.
The mountain is called Montserrat because of its meaning in the Catalan language; "saw (serrated) mountain.”
The mountain has peculiar aspects that can be viewed from a great distance. It is made of pink conglomerate, a form of sedimentary rock.
Montserrat is also the name of an island in the Caribbean.
Our tour guide said sometimes people are very confused when they arrive in Catalonia and search Montserrat on Google. It can come up as an island in the Caribbean!
It would take a long time to get there with Google maps... good thing is this Montserrat was just 45 minutes away!
Montserrat is the home of a monastery.
This is the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary.
Santa Maria de Montserrat projects the image of the Virgin of Montserrat.
This might not be surprising because it is a monastery, however, the look of the virgin is different than other cultures' depictions of virgins or holy individuals.
She is the Patron Saint of Catalonia and a Black Madonna. Her skin is the color black in all descriptions of her and all images created of her. The Catalan name, La Moreneta means "the little dark-skinned one" or "the little dark one.”
The community consists of about 80 monks.
The community of 80 monks live and practice at Monserrat. They live according to the Rule of Saint Benedict.
The four trees that sit in front of the entrance to the basilica represent four different aspects of the Catholic faith.
The trees planted in front of the entrance to the basilica represent four different aspects of the Catholic faith and were planted centuries ago.
There is a palm that stands for martyrdom, a cypress tree that stands for eternal life, an olive tree for peace, and a laurel tree for victory.
You can visit a gorgeous statue of the Black Madonna inside the basilica.
There are people waiting to step inside the beautiful basilica, and there are people waiting in a separate line waiting for a chance to see the Black Madonna that presides over the beautiful basilica right in the center. She is most definitely worth the wait!
The boys' choir is one of the oldest in Europe.
Escolania, the boys' choir, serves the sanctuary and abbey of Montserrat. It is one of the oldest boys' choirs in Europe and documents date back to the 14th century.
With a high level of music training, the boys' choir now accompanies religious ceremonies and communal prayers in the basilica.
You can sample cookies and coques made by the nuns.
Another recommendation by our tour guide, take a stop inside the gift shop and make your way to the bakery counter.
You can get cookies and goods from the nuns, as well as coques. The coques are long flat pieces of sweet bread coated in sugar and sometimes drizzled in chocolate.
You can try traditional cheese favorites at the bottom of the monastery.
This is a great location to stop at a few cheese booths at a small little market while you leave the monastery area.
Our guide recommended we try the cheese called Monchego, which is cheese hailed from the milk of the Manchego sheep in central Spain. The consistency reminded me of cottage cheese, however, it did not taste like it. Traditionally, it is served with a little bit of honey on top to mix into it as you eat it.
There are tons of gorgeous hiking paths around the mountain, one will take you to a beautiful view and a beautiful cross.
When you visit a mountain, what are you usually hoping for? Some great hikes and gorgeous views of course!
On a clear, sunny day you can see far away from Montserrat. Our guide recommended walking St. Michael's Path to St. Michael's Cross, the Creu de Sant Miquel. About a 20 minute walk each way, this hike was serene and peaceful. Standing by the cross we could see an incredible view of the mountain.
Now you know all about Montserrat, Spain. Are you ready to take the trip outside of Barcelona to this magical spot? Leave us a comment below!