I guess everyone, at least once in a lifetime, had the doubt and the fear to have taken the wrong direction despite the GPS.
Last time I felt this doubt was in Spain, during our on-the-road trip through Europe. During a day trip to Montserrat from Barcelona, to be exact.
While we were on those roads, I thought it was impossible we were in Spain. Is it possible the Iberian roads were so red? That in front of us rose those mounts and pinnacles that remembered us of the desert and Australia’s postcards?
Today I can confirm it: Spain is also this.
The abbey of Montserrat is an amazing place literally set into the Catalonia Mountains.
The best way to arrive, according to us, is by car, the only way to enjoy those soft curves, that road surrounded by an amazing landscape. Just ask the navigator to take you to Monistrol de Montserrat and then follow the directions to the abbey.
Alternatively, you can take a flight to Barcelona and then take the R5 train line towards Manresa (19€) from Espanya Station, reachable by the red or green metro lines. Once you arrived at Monistrol Station, you have to take the funicular called Aeri. From Barcelona is approximately 1 hour and a half.
The first thing that enchanted us of Montserrat is its breathtaking panoramic view through Catalonia Mountains. It should be a ‘must see’ of Spain.
The abbey enshrines the legendary Moreneta, the black Virgin Mary. The legend says that this sculpture was made by St. Lucas in Jerusalem and was given in custody to St. Peter that brought it in Barcelona, to hide it into the mountains when Muslims occupy Catalonia.
The sculpture was found in 880 a.C. by some shepherds thanks to a strong light who descended from the sky accompanied by a sweet melody. The shepherds followed the light until they found the sculpture and called it “Black Virgin Mary.”
From that day started the miracles that make this place a destination for millions of pilgrims.
There is also another legend about Montserrat Abbey, even more interesting. It seems that there was hidden the Holy Grail. Titurel, the first king of the Grail, saved the precious object in the castle of Montsalvat. Years later Wagner tells to his Parsifal that the Grail is located in the mountains in the north of Spain. Even Himmler, the head of the German SS, in 1940 made a trip to the abbey of Montserrat to try to find out the truth about this matter.
What is history and what is legend?
The only certainty is the surreal climate of this place.
To touch the Moreneta, you have to do a long line and waiting, sometimes, up to a couple of hours. A row that starts from the beautiful outdoor courtyard, crosses the basilica, passes in front of the sculpture and finally comes out.
Even if is a long row, you can benefit from the waiting to look around: the courtyard, the white statues, the decorations on the wall, the ceilings, the columns… There are thousands of details to admire, one more beautiful than the other.
An advice? Try to be here around 1 pm. At this time, in fact, the choir of the Escolania performs every day (except in July, Christmas and other holidays), the very famous Gregorian choir composed of children who study singing here in the abbey.
Do you need another reason to go?