During our brief visit to Barcelona in July, Professor M and I decided to venture out of town for a day. And Montserrat is an interesting destination for a day trip, either by train or by bus. As this was our second visit to Montserrat, we decided to forgo the all-day winery-Montserrat bus tour and took the train to Monistrol de Montserrat instead, and continued from there on the Cremallera (Rack Railway) up the mountain to Montserrat Monastery.
So, what can you expect to find in Montserrat?
There are several restaurants, a small hotel, and various walking routes, and shrines left, right and centre…
If you’re a foodie, I would recommend Restaurant Hostal Abat Cisneros instead of the self-service restaurant, though the rather heavy but fantastic 3-course meal with a bottle of wine left us unable to pursue our initial plan of taking the rack railway or the cable car all the way up the mountain. Actually, this was Professor M’s plan, and if I’m completely honest, I wasn’t too disappointed to skip this part of the trip as I have a bit of a fear of heights…
But Montserrat is not just a few restaurants and hiking routes surrounded by mountains. It is a monastery and a place of worship, and there are pilgrims who go there to visit the holy grotto, or to pray in the basilica. Thus, as beautiful and impressive as the basilica is, I will not be posting any pictures of it. While I am not a religious person (and I refuse to put a label on how I feel about religion as I have no opinion on it other than that I find it irrelevant and uninteresting on a personal level), I am deeply uncomfortable visiting a church / temple / mosque /whatever holy place as a tourist because I find it totally unacceptable to intrude into someone else’s religious experience. After all, these are places of worship, and people should be able to pray without tourists gawking at them.
We did visit the Montserrat Museum, though. Besides religious artefacts and images it also has a small but very interesting collection of Catalan Modernist and French Impressionist art.
Still, the museum is merely an appetizer: it is really small, and I doubt even a more ambitious tourist could spend more than an hour there. In other words, it is just the perfect size for this Bad Tourist… However, neither the museum nor the basilica could hold a candle (pardon the religious pun) to the majestic scenery all around.
So, for me, the real attraction in Montserrat is the wall of mountains surrounding the monastery, however uncomfortable I may feel actually going up or down the mountain on the rack train. Let’s just say that I’ve always been more comfortable by the sea (though never on the beach) than somewhere high up…
Linking up with Bonnie, Camila, Amy and Jessi for
Wow, what a beautiful place for a day trip 🙂 Mountains are just the best and that must be one of the steepest funiculars I have seen!
Our initial plan was to take that steep funicular all the way up, but a heavy meal and a bottle of wine later we were not up to it. I'm OK with that, hubby thinks it's a good reason to go back…
Hi! I'm just dropping by from the Travel Tuesdays link-up. Montserrat looks incredible and I love the Catalonian art. It looks exactly like the statues on the front of the Sagrada la Familia.
Yes, Catalonian art is interesting, very unique, modern and traditional at the same time.
Love the picture of the plaza with the arches and the stunning scenery
Thank you, I had so many great photos, it was really difficult to choose the photos for this post.
Those mountain walls look really gorgeous! And I have to agree with you – unless it's an old monastery where no one is anymore – people shouldn't be able to visit monasteries!
It was quite an experience, that wall of mountains all around.
The wall of mountains is truly magnificent!Claire xx
It was impressive, the mountain and the peaks all around, I must have taken dozens of photos…
Love the second last pic. Great double framing!
Thanks! It's one of my favourites, too.
Wow what amazing scenery! And that funicular looks seriously scary. I wouldn't have been too keen on it either!
The view was amazing, looking up or down… I found the funicular a bit too steep for my taste as I have a fear of heights…