Monastery of Montserrat - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT
Panorama taken of the Placa de Santa Maria at the abbey on Montserrat. The picture shows some of the Monastery buildings and tourist shops with the jagged pinnacles of Montserrat rising behind.
Monastery of Montserrat - FURTHER INFORMATION
Monastery of Montserrat - Montserrat visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Monastery of Montserrat' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Catalonia.
The Monastery of Montserrat is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain and a popular tourist attraction. The monastery is set high on the Montserrat mountains and houses a black statue of the Virgin Mary (called La Moreneta) inside the Basilica of Santa Maria de Montserrat. There are often queues of pilgrims seeking to ascend to the statue within the basilica and touch it.
History of Montserrat MonasteryAccording to legend, the statue of Mary was carved by Luke in around 50AD who brought it to Spain. It was hidden from the Moors in a cave (Santa Cova, the Holy Grotto) and rediscovered by shepherds in around 800AD, guided to the cave by a bright light and music.
The Bishop of Manresa wanted the statue moved to Manresa, but it proved to heavy to move, thereby indicating a desire to remain on Montserrat and be venerated there. Gradually a number of chapels grew up on Montserrat, and in the 11th century abbot-bishop Oliba founded the Monastery of Montserrat next to one of the chapels.
With the reporting of miracles, the monastery soon became an established pilgrimage site with many missionary churches in Mexico, Chile and Peru and Spain being dedicated to Our Lady of Montserrat (Nuestra Señora de Montserrat). The shrine was visited by many popes and devout believers like Ignatius Loyola before he founded the Society of Jesus.
Increasingly popular during the Middle Ages, the monastery expanded and in 1592 the Basilica of Santa Maria de Montserrat, in which the statue is now housed, was consecrated. Much of the monastery was destroyed when Napoleon invaded Spain in the 18th century, but was soon restored after hostilities ceased. In 1881 Pope Leo XIII proclaimed and crowned the Black Madonna of Montserrat patron saint of Catalonia in accordance with Canon Law. This secured the popularity of the monastery and shrine, which has continued to the present day.
In reality, the La Moreneta statue is carved in Romanesque style, used between the 11th and 13th centuries, casting a very large question mark over the validity of the founding legend. However, the statue and monastery still draw thousands of visitors a year, who proceed through the Basilica, touch the statue and light candles on the way out.
Around the Monastery of MontserratThis panorama shows the Placa de Santa Maria, the main arrival plaza in the monastery next to the cable car station. Montserrat Monastery has developed beyond just the Basilica. On the square is the Museu de Montserrat, well known for ecclesiastical paintings it contains, including works by Caravaggio and El Greco. The collection also includes some works by modern Spanish and Catalan artists, like El Viejo Pescador (1895) by Picasso as well as works by Dalí and French Impressionists (Monet, Sisley, and Degas). The museum has some ancient artifacts, among them is a mummified crocodile which is over 2000 years old. Around the square are numerous shops and a post office.
Montserrat is also popular for walking and climbing. Two funiculars run from the square. The Funicular de Sant Joan ascends 248m to the top of Montserrat and the beginning of various Hermitage Trails and other walks back down to the abbey. The other, Funicular de la Santa Cova, descends 118m part way to the Santa Cova (Holy Cave) where the statue of the black Virgin was supposedly found by shepherd children in the 9C.
Montserrat Monastery has become a popular day trip from Barcelona. The images in this virtual tour of Montserrat give some idea of what you can find when you visit this enigmatic site.
Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat
08199 Montserrat (Barcelona),
TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE
By Train: Take a train from Plaça d'Espanya in Barcelona followed by the Aeri de Montserrat Cable Car or Cremallera Funicular from Monistrol do Montserrat.
By Car: A2 north from Barcelona past El Bruc and then an 11km road round the mountains to the abbey. Alternatively take the C-55 west at Albera to Monistrol and a road up the mountain.