On my last day in Barcelona I decided to take a day trip to the Monastery of Montserrat. So did a great many other people, especially a large number of school parties! We left town at 10.00 am and the journey took about an hour. Our guide Leila fed us information non stop, switching effortlessly from English to Spanish and back again.
The Benedictine monastery was founded in 1025 with 10 monks. The mountain range behind it is a spectacular backdrop. Montserrat means "jagged mountain". Inside the church is the much revered Black Madonna, a carved wooden statue of the virgin and child. Her hands and face have darkened over time with the application of varnish. She is kept high above the altar and people formed a long queue to go up and touch her; not me!!
The Boys Choir was due to perform at 12.00 noon so I decided to get there early and secure a front pew. The church grew more and more crowded and when I thought it couldn't possibly hold any more, a huge school party was ushered in and made to sit on the cold marble floor between me and the altar, while the nun in charge did her best to keep them quiet.
The body's singing was lovely. They perform every day. Competition is stiff to enter the boarding school, but I must say that winters up there will be freezing! Also performing was a school choir from Córdoba as a guest item, but I realised that there would be long queues for lunch, given the numbers of visitors, so I made my escape!
Lunch was in a vast newly built self service cafeteria, with a buffet containing every possible dish and free flowing drinks for €16.50 and a view down the mountain. It was an amazingly clear sunny day, the best possible time to visit (it was raining and miserable last week, they said!).
I tried not to be too glutinous at the buffet , restricting myself to veg soup, grilled fish w salad and a selection of many fruit and chocolate cake items from the dessert area. Then I sat down in the sun to await departure from the crowds at 3.00 pm. All in all , it had been a good day but would have been a whole lot better with fewer visitors!
Arrival at Monistrol where the bus dropped us off and we marvelled at the spectacular mountain we had to climb
An old-style train preserved for posterity
The station for the rack railway up the mountain
The green train starting its ascent on the rack railway
Leila, our super efficient bi-lingual guide
Looking back down the mountain
Local conglomerate stone blocks used in the restoration
Entry to the basilica
The Black Madonna high up above the altar in the middle of the picture
The Montserrat Boys Choir in white; a school choir from Córdoba in red