One final post (this really is the last) about our summer trip to Spain.
We’d bought Montserrat tickets which included our underground travel to and from the mainline station, a return train journey, cable car rides, two funicular trains and entrance to a small audio-visual museum. (A luxurious novelty to experience an integrated transport system). All this to get us to the spectacular…
Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey.
Apparently the Monastery was founded in the 10th Century, although many of the current buildings are deceptively modern.
The Basilica houses a famous Black Madonna, la Moreneta ‘the little dark one’, but there was a very long queue to visit her in her position at the back of the Basilica, and we were keen to explore further afield.
We visited the audio-visual museum, where we watched a couple of short films: it seemed mainly to be an advert for the choral school which is based here. We could have bought a more expensive ticket which would have included lunch and entrance to another museum, but we were happy with our usual packed lunches and in the end didn’t really have time to fit in the other museum anyway.
I was very struck by this statue. The face, despite appearances to the contrary, is concave rather than convex – a sort of three dimensional negative image.
The situation of the monastery is amazing, nestling amongst the crags of Montserrat (serrated mountain). Incidentally – if you were thinking that Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean, then you were right – it was named, by Columbus, in honour of the Monastery and la Moreneta.
What looks like a waterfall in the back of the photo above is actually one of the two funicular railways at Montserrat.
…is a view from near the station at the top of the line.
Several paths leave the station, including one to Sant Jeroni, the highest point on the mountain.
We opted for a shorter route which wound its way around the hillside and back to the monastery.
We were entertained on our walk by grasshoppers, lizards and butterflies.
I’ve seen grasshoppers like these before in France. Although ostensibly brown, when they leap they open their wings to briefly reveal a startlingly flash of aquamarine.
The views were extensive.
And there were rocky knolls just off the wide track to tempt intrepid explorers…
A wayside chapel.
This is the other funicular…
It descends below the monastery. Only one path leads away from the lower station, skirting around the base of impressive crags.
The Cable Car!
Past numerous religious sculptures.
To another tiny chapel perched on the hillside.
From there we had to rush somewhat in order to catch the funicular back to the monastery, then the cable car and our train back to Barcelona. We’d packed a lot in without by any means managing to see everything – the ‘other museum’, for instance, is reputedly stuffed with art treasures and is almost certainly worth a look. And I’m sure the long round trip to Sant Jeroni would be spectacular (it’s apparently something of a right of passage for the youth of Catalonia to climb it at night). Next time!