High in the Skies

–04 Jun 2010 —

To continue my search to experience all things Catalan, I ventured to Montserrat.  A mountain about 40km NW of Barcelona, where the Benedictine monastery is perched high in the skies. It came as a recommendation from my ex-boss who spent some time in Barcelona in 2009.

Montserrat can be easily reached by public transportation or car. I took the train and saw this. There’s a quaint town at the base of the mountain. How cute!

This is a scale model of what the place looks like. The monastery is built into the mountain with the rock formations sheltering it. There is a funicular which you can take to one of the mountain peaks.

The Santa Maria de Montserrat or Abbey of Montserrat. It is a monster of a building. It stands tall with clean lines against the rough backdrop. A couple used this backdrop for their wedding that day. The bride was beautiful.

This is a sanctuary within the confines of the building. Check out the architectural features; detailing on the sculptures, the vintage window, muted block colours on the wall face. Stunning.

Inside the basilica, if you look up you will see gothic vault ceilings and the tiled dome ceiling where the Virgin of Montserrat is housed. The walls are similarly elaborately tiled. Rich maroons and blues mixed with the muted golds.

Rows and rows of candles that visitors have lit, each for a prayer.

Ivy lined passages scattered around the place. The greenery is a nice contrast to the bland limestone.

I took the funicular up to top of the mountain. The highest summit, Sant Jeroni, was too much effort for me that day so I decided on a leisurely 10 minute walk up to Sant Joan. Little did I know, this sign lied to me!! It took waaaay longer than 10 minutes to walk up there but it was so worth it. I suggest you add another 20 minutes to what is stated there. Unless you’re superman or superwoman.

Thinking back now, I had such an amazing day. The monastery is beautiful and the backdrop is even more stunning. As an engineer, it is always amazing to see great engineering feats. The views stretch as far as the eye can see.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the choir boys sing but Jaeshin watched them and said they sang beautifully. Be sure to schedule it in when you’re there.

I think I will try conquer Sant Jeroni next time.


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