What does Montserrat mean to you? It can mean different things to different people. Montserrat is visited by approximately two million people each year. Some people will go to Montserrat as part of a religious pilgrimage, others will go as part of a coach tour of Catalonia, some will go on a cultural day trip from Barcelona and others will go to walk, climb or cycle on the mountain. One thing that everybody can agree on is that Montserrat is a truly unique place offering a truly unique experience. It sits only about an hour from the hustle bustle of Barcelona but it feels as though it is a million miles away. Here you will find solitude, tranquillity and peace.
This page will give you a sense of what Montserrat is all about. It will give an overview to the different themes that are important at the Monastery: religion, history and nature. We will also give an idea of the different ways that you can treat a trip to Montserrat: a pilgrimage, a retreat, a holiday or as part of a larger trip to Spain or Catalunya.
Montserrat's most significant feature is undeniably its religious and spiritual importance. It was founded following a sighting of the Virgin Mary at the Santa Cova cave. Now, each year, pilgrims come to worship at the famous Black Madonna statue that is located inside the Montserrat basilica. It is possible to attend daily masses at the monastery and to see the world famous L'Escolania boys choir perform.
The spiritual aspects of Montserrat can be enlightening and enjoyable whether you are a religious person or not.
The rich history of Montserrat (as explained in detail in our guide to Montserrat Monastery page) is also of interest to visitors to the sanctuary - its past has seen the sanctuary tested by war, politics and the elements. But it has lived through all of this and is the richer for it. If you are interested in architecture, the buildings of Montserrat, such as the basilica and the Santa Cova chapel offer much of interest. Artists will be enamoured with the standards of the art on display in Montserrat Museum - with work from the likes of Dalí, Picasso and Degas.
Lovers of nature will be given the opportunity to stray from the hustle bustle of Montserrat Monastery's popular buildings to the tranquility of the mountain and natural park. You will be amazed at how easy it is to find your own quiet place for reflection just a few minutes walk from the main monastery area. If you like walking, there are a selection of walking routes that start at different points around Montserrat Monastery. If you are a climber, there are places to go climbing all over the mountain.
The walks close to Montserrat vary in both length and difficulty. So even if you only have a few hours to spare at Montserrat, it is worth taking a little wander out into the mountain - it will offer you a whole new point of view for seeing Montserrat.
If you are on a trip to Catalonia, Montserrat offers the perfect place to spend a morning or a whole day as part of a larger trip. It is possible to get to Montserrat by train, car or bus. There are also coach tours to Montserrat from all over the region - these will save you the difficulty of organising your own trip and create a timetable for you if you are on a tight schedule.
For many, a one day trip to Montserrat simply wouldn't be enough. If is possible to see the major parts of the Monastery in one day, however, if you want to experience Montserrat to a deeper level, it is worth considering staying there for longer. If you are a keen walker, climber or cyclist, you may want to make the most of the whole of Montserrat mountain. If this is the case, you could stay in one of the hotels in the towns that are close to Montserrat. This will give you freedom to roam around the mountain and natural park.
If you are on a religious trip to Montserrat, you may want to stay for s spiritual retreat. If this is the case, you can contact the Monastery directly to stay in their accommodation. Alternatively, you could stay in the apartments at Montserrat Monastery.
Until you have seen Montserrat for yourself it is never quite possible to understand what it is like. It is a unique place that can offer different experiences to different people. If you are not a religious person, do not write it off as something that would not interest you - there are many layers to what Montserrat has to offer. Take a one day trip there and you might find yourself planning the second visit before you've even left.