For many visitors to Montserrat it is more than a visit to a Monastery - it is a visit to one of Catalunya's most magnificent natural parks. Montserrat Mountain was declared a natural park in 1987 by the Generalitat de Catalunya. Before your trip to Montserrat, it is worth gaining a bit of background information on the Montserrat Natural Park and what features of interest lie in store.
This page will provide you detailed information on the park and what it has to offer: walks, exhibitions and villages. It will also provide facts and background on the geology, climate, flora and fauna of Montserrat Natural Park.
Montserrat Mountain is located to the right of the Llobregat River, in-between the Plain of Bages (called Pla de Bages) and the coast. It sits amongst a mountain range known as the pre-coastal mountain range and its peak can be seen jutting out from the range.
Montserrat's highest peak is called St. Jerome and it sits 1236 metres above sea level. For more details on St. Jerome, including significant rocks, hermitages on St Jerome, views from St Jerome and vegetation, see our Guide to Montserrat Mountain.
The sort of plant life that grows in Montserrat Natural Park reflects the fact that there is a damp Mediterranean climate (see below for more details on the climate in Montserrat). It is an interesting area for those who are interested in plants and vegetation as it is possible to see plants that are generally characteristic of dry environments next to plants that would normally be found in damp environments.
In general, the vegetation on Montserrat is Mediterranean -oak trees and the plants that can generally be found underneath them appear all over the mountain. Expert botanists claim that Montserrat boasts one of the best oak forests in Catalonia. There is a complexity and variation between the oaks that means that it is said to be an extreme type of subtropical forest.
In total, over 1250 species of plants grow on the mountain.
For more specific details on the vegetation to be found on St. Jerome (Montserrat's highest peak), see our Guide to Montserrat Mountain.
The wildlife to be found in Montserrat Natural Park is, like the vegetation, typical to the Mediterranean. Due to the richness of the botany on the mountain many different forms of wildlife thrive. Bird watchers will be glad to hear that many types of birds live in the natural park. Various species of bats and geckos can also be found.
In terms of mammals, squirrels, cats, boars and wild goats can all be spotted on the mountain. There are also some salamanders and vipers.
For details on the typical climate in Montserrat, take a look at our page on Montserrat Mountain.
For specific information on the geology of Montserrat Mountain, including the geological origins of the mountain and the rock types, see the Guide to Montserrat Mountain page.
Throughout Montserrat Natural Park there are four villages: Monistrol, El Bruc, Collbato and Marganell. Each of these villages offers, not just a place to stay, but also an area of architectural and historical interest. The villages' situations, sitting amongst the mountains, offer a very unique experience.
For details of each individual village in Montserrat Natural Park, including information on the places to stay, size and number of inhabitants, see our Guide to Hotels in Montserrat.
Whilst at Montserrat Monastery, if you would like to find out further information about Montserrat Natural Park, you will also find a small museum as you exit the funicular station at Funicular de Sant Joan building called 'Aula de la Natur' - the Nature Centre. Here you can find out facts about the flora and fauna in the natural park surrounding Montserrat. The museum has the same opening hours as the operating times of the funicular (for details of the price, running times and location of the Funicular de Sant Joan, see our Funicular de Sant Joan page).
If you are interested in learning more about Montserrat's Natural Park it may be worth taking a walk around the mountain. From Montserrat Monastery there are five different walks that you can take, varying in length and difficulty. For details of the Montserrat walks, see our Walks in Montserrat page.
For those of you who like to take your exercise a little more extreme, there is also the option of climbing on the mountain. For details of climbing options in Montserrat Natural Park, see our Guide to Climbing in Montserrat.
Montserrat Natural Park is the pride of Catalunya. Whether you are an animal lover, a nature lover or a sports enthusiast, you will find something to interest you in Montserrat Natural Park. During your visit to the Monastery it is worth finding the time to stray a little further from the Monastery - embark on one of the walks and you will discover stunning views and landscapes that are very distinct to Montserrat Natural Park.