About Montserrat Monastery
Officially titled Santa Maria de Montserrat, Montserrat Monastery is an important medieval abbey and one of the most important religious sites in Catalonia, Spain. Sitting high among the mountains of the Catalan countryside, the monastery offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding area as well as eye-catching architecture and history.
Montserrat Monastery history
It is believed the history of the Montserrat monastery site stretches back to at least the 9th century AD, when it is thought an early Christian chapel stood on the site and a cult formed around a statue of the Virgin of Monsterrat found in 880 AD. The monastery itself was founded in 1025 by Abbott Oliba, who was one of the most important religious figures in Catalonia at the time.
In 1811, the monastery was burnt down and sacked by Napoleon’s troops. The monastery would see violence again during the Spanish Civil War, with many of the priests and religious men and women living there killed. Under Franco, Montserrat Monastery was seen as a sanctuary for scholars, politicians and artists while Franco’s men stood waiting for those outlawed down the road.
From the 1940s onwards, therefore, Montserrat Monastery was seen as a symbol of Catalan nationalism and protest. Mass was said in Catalan despite the government’s language ban, even continuing to publish in Catalan.
Montserrat Monastery today
Today, built into the side of the mountains, the Montserrat Monastery is still functions with over 70 monks living there. The structure we now see has its roots in the 13th century and was constructed in Romanesque form. Visitors to Santa Maria de Montserrat can explore the historic monastery as well as taking in the Montserrat Museum which contains a collection of important works of art, including works by Picasso.
Getting to Montserrat Monastery
Nestled in the Parc Natural de la Muntanya de Monsterrat, Montserrat Monastery is just off the C-55 and A-2, which is a little over an hour drive from Barcelona. Via public transport get the R4 train to Martorell Central and from there the R5 to Monistrol de Monsterrat. Then get the uphill MM 2 stops to Monsterrat.
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