We disembarked the Norwegian Spirit bright and early one morning after 9 wonderful days sailing around Spain, Morocco, and Portugal. Instead of heading straight to the airport (our flights home weren't scheduled until 6pm), we decided to make use of what little time we had left of our vacation and booked a tour to Montserrat. Montserrat was never really on my 'must-see' list for our time abroad until my cousin visited during her weekend trip to Barcelona. After seeing her beautiful photos and knowing we'd make it to Barcelona on this cruise, I jumped at the chance to see Montserrat for ourselves! I'm so glad we did, because the photos I got while there have become some of my most favorite images I've taken during our time abroad. The beauty of this place is unparalleled.
Montserrat (meaning "saw" or "serrated") is a part of the Catalan Pre-Costal Mountain Range and is just a 30 minute drive from the heart of Barcelona. While it's famed as a part of Spain's first national park, that's not what drew us into seeking out an excursion there. High atop the mountain, nestled in between Monserrat's unique rock formations, is a Benedictine monastery inhabited by 30 Catalunyan monks. This monastery has quite a rich history, having been almost entirely destroyed by the French in 1811. The only piece that remained was the Black Madonna, which the monks hid away during the attack. In the 1850's, the monks returned to rebuild the Montserrat monastery and, in turn, created a powerful symbol for the Catalan people. Today, you can visit the monastery and marvel in its beautiful views, fascinating architecture, and opulent basilica. In addition, you can enjoy many hiking trails and funicular rides to incredible vistas overlooking Barcelona and its coastline below. TIP: Don't miss out on your chance to see the Black Madonna in the Holy Grotto! According to the history of Montserrat, the wooden relic (also known as the "Virgin of Montserrat") was unmovable by monks, so the monastery was built around it. Its story and significance now draws in religious pilgrimages from all around the world. Lines can be long to see her and touch her golden sphere, so be patient or arrive early!
[Miss any of my Spanish Cruise recaps? You can read through them here, here, and here!]
We absolutely enjoyed our short time at Montserrat and hope to make a visit back there someday. If you find yourself with time to spare in Barcelona, make the 30 minute journey to this iconic Spanish landmark.
You won't be disappointed!
Have you ever been to Montserrat?