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Introducing Montserrat

Montserrat (Serrated Mountain), 50km northwest of Barcelona, is a 1236m-high mountain of strangely rounded rock pillars, shaped by wind, rain and frost from a conglomeration of limestone, pebbles and sand that once lay under the sea (or else by baby angels, depending on whom you talk to). With the historic Benedictine Monestir de Montserrat, one of Catalonia’s most important shrines, cradled at 725m on its side, it’s the most popular outing from Barcelona. From the mountain, on a clear day, you can see as far as the Pyrenees. Its caves and many mountain paths make for spectacular rambles, reachable by funiculars.

The cremallera chugs up the mountainside, arriving just below the monastery, next to the cable car station. From there, the main road curves (past a snack bar, cafeteria, information office and the Espai Audiovisual) up to the right, passing the blocks of Cel·les Abat Marcel, to enter Plaça de Santa Maria, at the centre of the monastery complex.

The monastery throngs with daytrippers, so it’s well worth staying overnight to enjoy the stillness and the silence of this remarkable place and to commune in peace with La Moreneta before the first tour buses pull up.