Montserrat is a unique mountain chain in Catalonia, near Barcelona.  The mountains have a unique look, like fingers sticking up from the sides of the mountains.  Montserrat literally means “jagged mountain” and when you visit, you can see where the name came from.

There are three ways to reach Montserrat.  One is via the Aeri de Montserrat cable car and the Montserrat Rack Railway and by road.  You can take the subway and train station from the city (use the Plaça d’Espanya station), so you don’t have to worry about renting a car if you want to visit.  Once you arrive at the station, you can then take the funicular (cable car) or the rack railway.  We chose to take the cable car of course.  You can also fit a baby stroller in it quite easily as well.

Once you arrive at Montserrat, you can then explore dozens of trails that take you all around the mountain.  There are a couple of eating options there including a cafeteria and a restaurant.  Next to the cafeteria, you’ll find the gift shop that has a variety of different items from statues of the Black Virgin of Montserrat to honey and liqueur made by the nuns and monks of Montserrat.

Up the hill a bit, you’ll find the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat.  Since the 12th century, people have been visiting to see the statue of the Black Madonna.  The statue was carved by St. Luke around 50 AD and brought to Spain.  According to legend, the statue was hidden in a cave by the Moors and was found in 880 AD.  The statue was found by the shepherds.  The Bishop of Manresa suggested that the statue be moved to Manresa, but the statue was so heavy it could not be moved and it was taken that the Virgin had indicated that she wanted to stay on Montserrat.

The Monastery of Montserrat is home to about 80 monks and visitors are welcome to join in their daily celebrations of Mass.  The Basilica is located next to the monastery and is home to the statue of the Black Virgin.  The statue is made of wood and it depicts Jesus on her lap.  The black color is from the varnish on the wood that has darkened over time.  The beauty of the Basilica is beautiful with paintings and stained glass that depict various stories from the Bible.

Montserrat is definitely a must see in Barcelona.  It’s a good day trip to visit the unique mountains, buy some of the products produced by the monks and nuns (sometimes you can even get a taste of the Catalan liqueur).  Take the cable car to the mountain for the best effect.  The views are beautiful.