- An old Benedictine Monastery
- The image of the Lady (or Black Madonna)
- The Natural Park of Montserrat
On this private tour we visit the Sanctuary of Montserrat where architecture, arts and spirituality combine. It is located in the hill called Montserrat, about 20 miles south-west from the city. It holds a Benedictine community since the year 1025, and moreover in the area there have been hovels and hermitages since the early years of the 9th century AD. Today, this Catholic Monastery has two main sections: a Basilica with the monk residence, and buildings for visitors including restaurants, gift shops and hostels.
This Benedictine community is preserving the traditional way of life since its foundation. The rules of the Order of Saint Benedict, or Black Friars, presupposes the autonomy of each community and a tight communal timetable is meant to ensure that the time is used in God’s service, whether for prayer, work, meals, spiritual reading or sleep. Among the different activities that this religious community holds, they manage a music school for boys and it is one of the oldest choirs in the world. They meet for the prayers at 1pm, when we may join them, both monks and children choir, at the Basilica.
On the other hand, with your private guide you’ll also meet the Lady of Montserrat. Following the legends, the sculpture of the Lady of Montserrat was found by shepherds in the year 880 in a natural cave. Traditionally it is been called the Black Madonna (or Moreneta in the local language) because of her tanned colour. Through the centuries became a symbol of Catalonia and also a pilgrimage destination for devotees all over the world. At the Basilica, it is exhibited above the altar, and in certain hours of the day the access is opened so, queue permitting, you can also approach the Black Madonna at the altar.
Meal options at the Monastery are very simple (as visitors in fact are consider as pilgrims), so if you prefer something more qualified we could arrange a lunch in a farm house restaurant nearby and enjoy the relaxed pace and family atmosphere of traditional meals. You also may combine Montserrat tour with another activity of those at out of town: hiking on Montserrat trials, visiting and tasting wine or cava cellars, having a stroll at the coastal village Sitges or following the Castles line tour on Segarra county.
The mountain Montserrat is an area of amazing natural sites which are now protected as a National Park. Different climate conditions, earthquakes and water erosions have given a unique profile to this rock massif. It is a multi-peaked mountain with a silhouette appearing like a saw (the meaning of Montserrat is “serrated mountain”) and where the main peak reaches 1236 m (or 4055 ft). There’s a large variety of vegetation: common Mediterranean species, in certain areas coexisting with others of central European tendency, and even special ecological conditions produce some endemic varieties.
Since the 1200’s monarchs and noble families came for advice, as monks were considered wise, and were offering very important donations. At the same time, they help humble families to improve rural productions, and it became a kind of primitive university. Even the monk Bernat Boil accompanied Columbus in his explorations of America during late XV century. Besides from prayers, monks main activity has been traditionally cultivating the fields around Montserrat for vineyards, and became experts in wine and liquors production that still offer to pilgrims. Since their properties were privatized during XVIII century, wines and liquors of the region have been widely exported by new companies, originally through the coastal village of Sitges which was an important harbour at that time, now mostly from Barcelona to the rest of the world.