One of the spiritual homes of Catalan culture, atop a mountain with spectacular views.

Sacred peaks

Montserrat, or Serrated Mountain, gets its name from its jagged profile. About 45km outside Barcelona, its winning combination of spiritual significance, dramatic pink peaks and breathtaking views has led to it being made a Spanish national park. It is also home to the famous monks of the Benedictine Abbey Santa Maria de Montserrat, and the mysterious black Madonna idol the in the holy grotto of the Virgin Mary.

The history of the sanctity of the mountain stretches as far back as classical times, when the conquering Romans built a temple in honour of Venus here. After the fall of the Empire, the holiness of the mountain once again became a focus in the 9th century when numerous people reported experiencing heavenly visions and hearing beautiful music in a cave on the mountain. This cave came to be the holy grotto of the Virgin Mary; today it houses La Moreneta, the sacred black statue of the Madonna and Child which, according to tradition, was brought to Catalunya from Jerusalem in the 9th century. She is more likely a 12th century Byzantine carving; but the origin of the Benedictine monastery itself does date from the 9th century, with small hermitages appearing near the shrine in the 880s AD, giving the story some credence. By 1025 these humble hermitages had expanded to form the monastic settlement still thriving today.

Montserrat and the Holy Grail

Throughout the centuries there have been those who claim that the mountain was the hiding place of the Holy Grail mentioned in Wolfram Von Eschenbach’s Arthurian legend Parzival. In this 13th century epic poem the Holy Grail is a stone that fell from Heaven and was hidden in the castle of Munsalväsche, and many people, including the Benedictine monks themselves, have claimed that he was actually referring to Montserrat. This belief was so strong that it even prompted the superstitious and power-crazed Nazis to lead a search for the Grail at Montserrat. The expedition was headed by S.S. leader Heinrich Himmler, who took a squad of Nazis up the mountain hoping to discover the grail and harness its supernatural powers.

During the Spanish Civil War the monastery rebelled against the tyrannical Franco regime, defiantly continuing to speak in the banned Catalan language and offering a refuge for persecuted victims of Franco’s dictatorship. This earned the Abbey a reputation of loyalty and patriotism and endeared the monks even more to the hearts of the Catalan people.

Montserrat is visited by large numbers of pilgrims, hikers and curious tourists each year and is a fantastic daytrip to make from Barcelona. Trains go daily from Barcelona to Montserrat and a cable car runs up to the top – or more energetic mountaineers may follow the hiking trails. There is a real sense of myth and history surrounding this ancient holy place, and the gorgeous setting only heightens its grandeur.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Barcelona
Park Güell
Barcelona’s stunning public park, filled with the fantastical forms of Gaudí.
Tibidabo Mountain
This whimsical mountain offers stunning views of the Catalan capital, and a welcome respite from city life.
A charming historic neighbourhood of steep streets and beautiful gardens.
Montserrat Abbey
A Benedictine monastery that is a famous pilgrimage spot and a source of great local pride and identity.
The Black Madonna
"La Moreneta" in Spanish is Catalonia's patron, this 12th century wooden statue is dedicated to her.
Montserrat Museum
Contains work from some of Spain's most famous painters, including the gifted El Greco, Picasso and Dalí.

Related Tours

Visit Montserrat: Private Day Trip from Barcelona
Experience a beautiful day trip from Barcelona to visit Montserrat, the iconic 12th-century Benedictine monastery dramatically built into the mountainside, followed by a fascinating tour of Montserrat Museum - a treasure trove of masterpieces by some of Spain's most famous artists. Enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery on this private 5-hour guided tour, with private transport and entrance tickets included. 

On your private tour to Montserrat, you will:

  • Enjoy a wonderful tour out to Montserrat in the Catalonian countryside with a private guide and driver with hotel pick up and drop off;
  • Relax on a stunningly scenic drive out to the mountainous countryside of Catalonia;
  • Visit the breathtakingly beautiful Santa Maria Montserrat, an Abbey built in the 11th century by the Order of Saint Benedict;
  • Explore this old oasis of spiritual calm and beautiful monastic architecture; 
  •  Learn all about its fascinating history dating back to the founding of the Santa Maria Hermitage in 888 A.D;
  • Hear about the lives of the 80 Benedictine monks who live here today, and the famous boy's choir one of the oldest in Europe;
  • See the famous Black Madonna Statue, one of the region’s icons, known locally as ‘La Moreneta’ (meaning 'the dark one');
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the Montserrat Museum to see works by some of Spain’s most renowned artists, including El Greco, Picasso, and Dalí;
  • Enjoy an easy transfer back to Barcelona, where you will be returned to your hotel. 

Enjoy this five-hour day trip from Barcelona out to the rugged, mountainous countryside of Catalonia to visit the impressive Santa Maria Montserrat Monastery and the Montserrat Museum of Art

The magnificent Monastery of Montserrat was built around a thousand years ago, in the 11th century, on the site of a Hermitage established in 888 A.D. 

With its imposing sand-coloured facade, it looks like it was dramatically carved out of the mountain - as though the monastery and mountain were one. Montserrat literally means 'the Serrated Mountain' and is so called because of its stark rock formations. It is still a working monastery - a place of sanctuary and pilgrimage, where 80 monks live according to the life and rules of Saint Benedict. It is also a choir school - with the oldest boy's choir in Europe. 

The monastery is famous for housing the Black Madonna statue, a local icon carved in the 12th century and known as 'The dark one' or Our Lady of Montserrat. She has become of symbol and focal point of Catalan identity - especially during the Spanish civil war, during which 22 monks of the abbey were killed. 

The monastery has survived many invasions and attacks. In 1811 and 1812 it was burned down by Napoleon's forces and later restored.  The Abbey has been a place of sanctuary, sheltering clandestine political activists, intellectuals, artists, writers, and poets - as well as publishing books, and saying mass in the forbidden Catalan language.  

As well as boasting unbeatable views of the city of Barcelona from its many vantage points, Montserrat is also home to a great museum bringing together the work of some of the most famous Spanish painters, including the gifted El Greco, Picasso, and Dalí. Finally, explore some of the amazing viewing points of the mountain, and enjoy a leisurely drive back to Barcelona. 

Please note that this tour is only fully accessible to people who can walk up and downstairs. The nature of the site includes some walking on a high hill and steps too. 
If you have mobility impairments or require any assistance, please let us know in advance so we can plan your tour accordingly to ensure a great experience.


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