Barcelona Day Trip: Montserrat

Part 8, the final installment, in a series about a January trip to Barcelona and a Western Mediterranean cruise on NCL.

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Just after the ship docked back in Barcelona, we dropped our bags at our hotel and headed off on a daytrip to Montserrat. Montserrat is an easy subway, train, and tram trip away from central Barcelona, and is certainly worthwhile.

The Benedictine Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery was established in the Montserrat mountain in the 11th century and later the Romanesque-style church came to house a precious statue of the Virgin carved during the Middle Ages from dark wood—thus known today as the Black Virgin. The Madonna sits in its own shrine behind the apse of the church, and is a pilgrimage site for Catholics as well as tourists.

Montserrat came to capture the imagination of writers and artists LIKE, and understandably so. Besides the spiritual element of the peaceful monastery and pilgrimage site, Montserrat is a haven for nature lovers and hikers. Walking paths of various lengths and difficulty levels fan out from the monastery, all of which promise gorgeous views of the mountain scenery and panoramas across Catalonia—at one point, we could see as far as the Pyrenees to the north and the Mediterranean to the southeast.

Another of Montserrat’s best-known features is the music school and boys’ choir that make their home at the monastery. The choir, or Escolania, is comprised of adolescent boy sopranos who rarely tour or sing outside the monastery—thus it is a special treat to hear them perform the mass there. Unfortunately, it was a treat we missed due to high winds that kept the boys from returning to school after a holiday in time to sing on the morning of our visit.

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