Barcelona is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations, and the Catalan capital has it all. Its architecture is varied and stunning, from the Gothic Cathedral to Gaudí’s Modernist constructions such as the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, and the most cutting edge hotels and buildings in its up and coming neighbourhoods. One of the best things about Barcelona, however, is getting away from the city. There are plenty of fantastic day trip destinations, such as along the coast to the nearby seaside towns of Sitges or Tossa del Mar. If you prefer some mountain air, we suggest you visit Montserrat, for its visually stunning landscapes, and spectacular Monastery. Unusual rock formations against a blue sky According to the traditional Catalan language, the word ¨Montserrat¨ literally means ¨serrated mountain.¨It is no coincidence that this mountain is called ¨Montserrat¨as it can be described as a jagged mountain peak with unique rock formations. It is an incredible sight to see and is conveniently located just outside of Barcelona, in the heart of the Catalunya region. Inside the Monastery and the Black Madonna The beautiful Montserrat Monastery sits high up the mountain with amazing views all around. The Monastery is visually stunning, and has been an important site for religious practice, study and pilgrimage since it was founded in 1028. it A visit to the Monastery is sure to be a memorable experience, as you discover the Black Madonna and learn about the intriguing history of the region. The famous Black Madonna sits in on a regal throne in a high alcove of the monastery, surrounded by golden walls with detailed design covering every inch of her surrounding throne. While the actual statue is behind glass, one of her hands is uncovered for you to touch upon your visit. It is traditional to touch the hand of the Black Madonna, whether you may consider it a religious experience or not. The moment you share with her is powerful and captivating in such an atmosphere. Excellent hiking routes In addition to the Monastery, Montserrat has so much to offer that makes it one of the most precious Catalan treasures. Many visitors enjoy taking a hike through the mountain top with various routes clearly marked. The Sant Jeroni path is a more advanced hiking trail that starts at the Sant Joan furnicular train, from which you will climb to the highest point of Montserrat at 1236m. There are also less challenging routes if you´re not interested in spending hours on the trail. Regardless of which path you choose, the views are breathtaking in every direction. Relax and renew If you´re not looking for a trekking experience, there are a few little shops (and sometimes a cheese market) around the Monastery where you can enjoy a nice stroll with a mountaintop breeze. Even if you didn´t climb, an ice-cream is always well deserved. You may also choose to visit the museum while you’re in the area. Montserrat Museum showcases over 1,000 pieces of art between six different collections. Entrance to the Monastery is free, but entrance to the museum costs 7. Getting to Montserrat The easiest way to get to Montserrat is to catch a train from the rail station at Plaça Espanya. The train will take you to the base of the mountain and leaves you with different options on how to proceed to the top. Plaça Espanya is a massive rail station, so be sure to get there early to find your way to Line R5.One option is a short cable car ride up to the monastery with views along the way. Another option is the Cremallera Funicular, or the rack rail, which is a slightly longer ride and goes further up. It’s an easy day trip to organise independently, and there are also plenty of companies who organise day trips by coach. Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at Apartment Barcelona. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
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