The Black Madonna

"La Moreneta" in Spanish is Catalonia's patron, this 12th century wooden statue is dedicated to her.

TravelCurious Tip

Every day at noon, the Escolania de Montserrat boys' choir sing “el Virolai”, a hymn venerating the Virgin of Montserrat.

Perching precariously on the slopes of Montserrat (“Jagged Mountain” in Catalan), and commanding a breathtaking view of the landscape below, is the stunning Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. It isn’t easy to get there; most visitors leave Barcelona in the morning by car or train, and then take the funicular railway or spectacular cable car up the mountain. Here you will find yourself close to the top of Montserrat, which towers fully 1236m over the valley floor, offering an unparalleled vista of the lovely Catalan lowlands.

A Local Favourite

Inside, you can find one of the rare “Black Madonnas of Europe”. The Virgin Mary is the Patron Saint of Catalonia, and this instantiation of her is fondly known as “la Moreneta”, meaning “The little dark one”.The statue is 95cm tall, and is carved of wood in an ornate Byzantine style, and its creation and history are the subject of numerous legends. Some believe that it was carved in Jerusalem during the early days of the Christian church. Others claim that it was moved here to protect it from the marauding Saracens, and that the Benedictine monks later refused to move it, instead choosing to build their monastery around their hallowed icon.

Fade to Black

Interestingly, it is thought that the Madonna has not always been her current colour. Renovation work carried out in 2001 led experts to believe that her skin was once a lighter shade, but that prolonged exposure to candle smoke (or a varnish-related chemical reaction) slowly turned her into the Black Madonna we can see today.

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.
One of the spiritual homes of Catalan culture, atop a mountain with spectacular views.
Montserrat Abbey
A Benedictine monastery that is a famous pilgrimage spot and a source of great local pride and identity.
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.


Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.


Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.