Within an hours drive from Barcelona is the must-visit location of Montserrat and the Monastery of Santa Maria . The mountain itself is striking from a distance. For one thing, its jagged, almost like a shark tooth look. Apparently most of it was a river bed eons ago, as evidenced by the presence of aquatic fossils.
It almost feels sinister. Hostile. From miles away it looks like a an alien landscape collided into earth eons ago.And adventurers should be wary!
In reality, however, access to Montserrat is pretty modern and amazing. You have the choice:
- Driving there.
- Taking the rack-rail train from either Barcelona or one of the intermediate stops.
We drove from Barcelona upto a small town called Monistrol. Here there is a massive car parking lot, where you may park your vehicle and take the very winding rack-rail upto the monastery.
I would recommend this, as the views going up are stunning. And the experience of being on a narrow track with sharp cliffs on one side is quite exciting.
Once you get up there, you can choose to take one of two funiculars to explore more of the mountain. Details are available here:
We suffered through a largely un-appettizing lunch in a cafeteria style restaurant. The fries were soggy and cold, and the rest was, well not worth mentioning.
We explored the location in two parts.
The trails and the wilderness.
I encourage you strongly to take the San-Joan Funicular further up the mountain. At the point of exit, there are many trails going off into the wilderness. We didn’t have too much time, but still got two memorable highlights.
We saw a large herd of Ibex about 20 strong climb deftly up the rocky cliffs, and we saw a pretty stunning profile of the Montserrat mountains. You will also be rewarded by a top-down view of the monastery itself.
I was a bit tired, so I did not quite explore the monastery in depth. But it was filled with gorgeous artwork and was definitely worth the visit.