Thursday, 19th December 2019
On a coach leaving Barcelona for Montserrat Monastery. A boulevard in central Barcelona visible through the window.
The Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat stands on the side of the rocky mountain of Montserrat. The monastery is roughly 750 metres above sea level, while the highest point on the multi-peaked mountain is Sant Jeroni at 1,236 metres. The monastery was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt between the 19th and 20th centuries. Today there are still around 70 monks in residence. The monastery is 30 miles (48 kilometres) north-west of Barcelona and can be reached by road and train, with both a cable car and mountain rack railway available to travel up from railway stations located in the valley.
The steep rocky slopes of Montserrat mountain with the top shrouded in mist seen from outside the monastery complex.
Outside the base of the Sant Joan funicular railway. This travels at gradients of up to 65% to a point higher up the mountain where there are walking trails, sacred sites and view points. A second funicular railway runs down to a shrine at Santa Cova. In the foreground there are four young women wearing head scarfs, possibly of Asian origin.
Tony and Tatiana outside a large stone-arched entrance gateway with metal-clad doors. These doors are one of the few original parts of the monastery.
View from The square that precedes the basilica: Plaza del Abat Argeric. The two funicular station buildings are in view. The square was built in the 18th century.
Dramatic view up above the basilica with the mountain’s towering rocky outcrops overhead.
Buildings at the side of the square including a hotel. Again overshadowed by a steep cliff topped with several crags.
Part of the basilica, including the bell tower to the right. The basilica was completely rebuilt in the 19th Century after twice being burned down and sacked In 1811 and 1812 by Napoleon’s troops during the Peninsular War (1807–1814).
Looking towards the main entrance into the basilica, and alongside, two levels of cloisters with a garden in front. Parts of the original 11th century cloisters still remain.
View on entering the basilica with a tomb just visible in front. The tomb belongs to Juan de Aragón y de Jonqueras, 2nd Count of Ribagorza (1457 to 1528). He was a Viceroy of Naples (1507–1509).
Tatiana and Tony touching the Virgin of Montserrat, a venerated statue of the Madonna and Child, to which the monastery is dedicated. Often referred to as the Black Madonna, she is one of the two patron saints of Catalonia. The statue is approximately 95cm in height with Mary seated on a throne with the Christ Child on her lap. She is holding an orb in her right hand.
A closer view of the Virgin of Montserrat.
A dimly lit view inside the basilica’s nave. Candles in the foreground. Rows of pews below. The nave is 68 metres long and 21.5 metres wide, with a height of 33.3 metres.
A very large shell attached to a wall, a small font. But not the main Baptismal font.
Candles lit by visitors displayed on a stand.
Tony and Tatiana outside the church. This façade is within an inner courtyard.
View of the monastery’s exterior in semi-darkness and mist. The basilica’s bell tower lit up above.