Saturday, November 22, 2014

Montserrat

Approached from the Northwest, the Montserrat mountains are . . . well . . . risible.

 But as you drive up into the hills you realize that something quite different is going on, the first clues being the scenery itself and then the fact that the road is dotted with Christian monasteries, some dating back to the 9th century.


The first religious buildings we came upon (other than a few churches) was Saint Cecilia, a Benedictine monastery built on the site of a Visigoth community around the 10th century and before that a Roman temple. Benedictine nuns were active here until 1954. And as the signs indicate, the city of Barcelona is undertaking restoration of the site.




From there we continued up the hill until we hit the Monastery of Montseerrat. Our first impression was that this was Disneyland for Catholics, and it is geared to tourists with restaurants, bars and hotels. The Japanese just love it, it seems, and one gets in their way at one’s own peril. But it is also a remarkable site with buildings dating back to the 10th century and a gorgeous Gothic church dedicated to the 12th Century Black Madonna. One could easily spend a few days there and it is a popular destination for day trips from Barcelona. While we were there several different helicopters flew over, presumably laden with tourists. It was well worth the visit.












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