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High in the mountain hills above the city hides a perfect day trip, the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat, founded in the year 1025 by Abbot Oliba.

Probably the most interesting this at Montserrat (serrated mountain) is the mountain itself. With a very peculiar shape, the mountains appears to be higher than it really is because it rises up abruptly from the Llobregat river.

The highest peak is St Jerome, at 1236 meters above the sea level. The monastery is located 725 meters above the sea level.

 

 

Its architectural ensemble is composed of two main building blocks: the church, the monastic buildings, which have a neo-Romanesque cloister, built in 1925 by Puig and buildings for pilgrims and tourists. The basilica falls between Gothic and Renaissance, which began to apply the sixteenth century in Catalonia.

But the undisputed symbol of the mountain is the Virgin of Montserrat, popularly known as the “Black Madonna”, so named for the dark color of his skin.  It is a Romanesque statue of a virgin wood built in the late twelfth century.

The legend says she was found in a cave in the mountain.

 

moreneta_2

Since its founding in the sixteenth century the monastery of Montserrat has kept a constant dialogue and exchange with the society. Its library is one of the largest and oldest in the country and has a collection that includes 400 incunable, 330,000 monographs, 3,700 books of the sixteenth century, etc. The Abbey of Montserrat can proudly display the title of being the oldest active imprint on the world.

There is also a boys choir, consisting of fifty children from 9 to 14 years living and studying in Montserrat. The choir sings in the basilica every day, often with a large influx of pilgrims and visitors from around the world. Every Sunday at midday the choir sings the salve or Virolai, hymn dedicated to the Virgin of Montserrat.

Some interesting facts about the history of Montserrat are that in the year 1811 The Abbey is destroyed by Napoleons army, and by the year 1835, due to land reforms the monastery looses all its property and only one monk remains.

My favourite part:

The MUSEUM

Montserrat also has an important artistic heritage composed of various private donations which. The site was designed by Josep Puig in 1929 and was part of the reform of the monastery. More than 1,300 exhibits spanning a period in chronological wide. The oldest piece is an Egyptian sarcophagus XXII century BC between modern painting exhibited a representation of French Impressionism, with works by Monet, Sisley, Degas, Pissarro, etc., and a sample of work grain – puts artists such as Chagall, Braque, Le Corbusier, Rouault, Miró, Dalí, Picasso, Clavé, Tapies, and an amazing Caravaggio!

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

And another painting that i fall involve with is the young Pablo Picasso, with a painting he did when he was 14 years old: The old fisherman. Its amazing the master piece he did with such an early age! I simply love how he managed to paint the old’s man face, transmitting his feelings of preoccupation or maybe resignation to us.

Pablo Picasso The old Fisherman

Pablo Picasso The old Fisherman

The mountain itself is a natural wonder. Hiking routes provide amazing views, a lovely way to relax for a few hours and get the blood flowing!

Famous sculptors collaborates in the last years to improve and add more and different meaning to the place. One of my Favourite artists Joseph Maria Subirachs (yes, the one that created the Passions Facade of Sagrada Familia – read more here http://livelifebcn.com/2016/05/19/sagrada-familia/ ) contributed with few works: Ramon Llull monument and the sculpture of Saint George.

Monument to Ramon Llull

Monument to Ramon Llull

Representing the Staircase of Understanding, as described by the famous Philosopher and writer Ramon Lulll in the XIV th century, it represents stone, flame, plant, beast, Man, heaven, angel and God. All the steps are of irregular form except the last one which represents GOD and the shape is a perfect cube.

 

Saint George

Saint George

The sculpture of Saint George, the Patron Saint of Catalunya, stands tall, almost 2 meters, and the distinctive feature is the eyes, that seams to follow every step. A little creepy…

As much as I would like to capture the beauty and the amazing impact this place have on people, you have to come and see it for yourself. I would love to be your guide!