dilluns, 1 d’octubre de 2012

Essential Montserrat: Nature, Spirituality & Culture

Montserrat has traditionally been considered Catalonia's most famous mountain range and it's the second most touristic place in Catalonia, after her capital, Barcelona. According to statistical reports, Montserrat received more than 2 million of visitors last year. Her genuine silhouette explains her name: Montserrat means Jagged Mountain. The highest peak is called Sant Jeroni (1.230 m/high) where the panoramic view of the landscape worths the effort to climb to the top. Everywhere in Montserrat is protected by Montserrat's Natural Park which offers a largest variety of flora, fauna and plenty options of sport activities like trekking or hiking. Additionally, Montserrat is a focus of spirituality and culture far from the XIth century thanks to the monastery and our Lady Moreneta (the black madonna) who has been venerated by pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. She's the patron saint of Catalonia and it's possible to visit her inside the Basilica. The history of Montserrat starts in 888, when a couple of shepherds found the "carved in wood Mother of God" in the mountain and then, Abbot Oliba of Ripoll founded the monastery in 1025. One of the most exciting experiences during the visit of Montserrat is definetely the canticles of the Escolania, one of the most ancient children's choirs in Europe. The most famous and emotive song of the choir is called "Virolai" and for us (the catalan people), it becomes one of the most patriotic songs of our land. The little boys of the Escolania sings everyday (check out the schedules here). Besides, it's also interesting to discover the Museum of Art or the Interactive Exhibition which offers an insider's view of how the Benedictine community of Montserrat is organised. Before leaving, don't forget to taste the catalan traditional fresh cheese (Mató de Montserrat). To get to Montserrat from Barcelona, take the FGC from Plaça Espanya to Monistrol de Montserrat and then, transfer to the rack railway till the monastery.