Montserrat is a town in the province of Catalonia, a mere fifty-six kilometers outside of Barcelona in Spain. It is a popular destination for day hikers, nature lovers, and most importantly religious pilgrims. The namesake mountain offers many trails suitable for casual to the most experienced hikers. There is also a diversity of flora and fauna to be found and tremendous views of the province of Catalonia. Its infamous monastery, whose basilica houses one of the most revered statues of the Virgin Mary, has a unique location nestled within the mountains and overlooks the valley and the river Llobregat. Its religious heritage also goes back many centuries.
Many of its two million plus visitors are generally here for religious pilgrimage, however, many of them also take advantage of its natural beauty and many walking trails. After all, some of its most sacred religious sites can only be reached on foot. Here are a few of its most popular trails…
Monastery to Santa Cova
This is perhaps the most famous of all trails. It is relatively easy, with descending paved paths and plenty of picturesque sights along the way. The destination is also one of religious and historical importance: the chapel of Santa Cova. Legend says that it is in that spot where the Virgin Mary appeared in one of her apparitions.
The starting point of the trail is just below the drop off point for the monastery. You can either walk or take a funicular down. It will be good to mention however, that the ride will only take you halfway down the path, but it does eliminate the steepest incline/decline portion of the trail. Once you reach halfway, it is pretty flat. A round trip will take approximately two and half hours, accounting for some stops and if walking all the way. If you are an experienced hiker, this can easily be done in less than two hours. The total distance of the hike is just a little over five kilometers.
Sant Joan Funicular to Sant Jeroni
This trail is one of the longest, and perhaps the most tedious of them all because of the incline and changes in elevation, but it is also one of the best because of the beautiful sights along its route. If you prefer the natural offerings of Montserrat, this is the one you ought to take. Your destination will be Sant Jeroni, Montserrat mountain’s highest elevation.
The starting point begins as soon as you exit the funicular ride up. Signs are clearly posted to avoid confusion since there are other trails also commencing from the same location. The path will take you through open air trails that provide great views of the monastery below, into forested nooks, and into patches that will provide you with a closer look at the unusual rock formations that make up Montserrat mountains. A round trip hike can take up to three hours if you require frequent stops to enjoy the views or to acclimate yourself with the change in elevation. Some part of the trail can be steep, so take your time. The round trip distance is about 15 kilometers.
Monastery to The Degotalls
If your trip to Montserrat Mountains is part of a tour, or if you do not have much time to spare, this trail is will be the best option for you to take. The pathways are paved and with relatively low incline so it does not take much time or effort to complete. It is perfect for those leisurely strolls. The trail is lined with sculptures, wall frescoes, and other artistic works related to the church.
The trail begins on a path just behind the monastery drop-off rotunda. It will take you towards the Monistrol and lead you slightly downward and parallel to the drive path on the way to the monastery. Upon reaching the Apostle’s lookout point (Mirador dels Apostols), head left and continue onwards. The trail has a total of six and half kilometers, however, because it is a fairly easy path, a round trip walk can be completed in less than an hour.
Other Points of Interests – Montserrat Mountains
The monastery of Montserrat has been a Catholic pilgrimage site for centuries. People from around the world come here to see the eminent Santa Maria de Montserrat, one of Europe’s Black Madonnas. You can also listen to the infamous young boy’s choir, said to be one of the best in the world.
Santa Cecilia Church
Built sometime in the 10th century, the church is a prime example of Romanesque architecture. Much of its interior setting has deteriorated over the centuries but the current exterior of the church are mostly originals. The area surrounding the church was rumored to have been the original site of the first monastery in the area and until the 16th century operated on its own, separated from other Montserrat Mountains.