During our recent visit to Barcelona, we took a detour to the enchanting Montserrat. This multi-peaked mountain, soaring at 1,200m, is situated 50 km northwest of Barcelona.
Interestingly, the Caribbean island of Montserrat was named after this mountain by Christopher Columbus. Its caves and numerous mountain paths provide breathtaking views and adventurous hikes. In Catalan, "Montserrat" means "saw mountain", aptly named as it resembles the jagged teeth of a saw when viewed from afar.
Remarkably, it's also the first National Park in Spain.
Reaching Montserrat isn't straightforward; by car, it's roughly an hour's drive. Alternatively, there are train and bus options, but they require multiple transfers and can take considerably longer.
Montserrat can be capricious with its weather. On our first attempt, the mountain was shrouded in clouds, making it futile to ascend. We continued our journey to Andorra, our initial destination, hoping for better luck upon our return. Fortuitously, our hopes were realized.
On our return to Barcelona a few days later, the skies were clear, and sunset was imminent. The timing couldn't have been better. Once at the summit, the panoramic views of the valley are awe-inspiring, rivaling the grandeur of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.
The cliffs illuminated by the setting sun create a mesmerizing spectacle. Additionally, the dwindling number of tourists due to the approaching closing time added to the serenity. For the more adventurous, there's an opportunity to scale even higher. However, as nightfall was approaching, descending on foot would have been risky. Thus, we opted to remain and savor the beauty of the primary viewpoint.
A standout feature is the Monument a Ramon Llull, which appears as monumental steps leading heavenward. These steps, originating from the cliff's edge, are designed such that the higher ones seem to hover directly over the valley. The temptation to ascend was irresistible, but the combination of strong winds and the sheer drop made for a heart-pounding experience.
Visitors can also access the Montserrat Monastery and behold the Virgin of Montserrat, a revered statue of the Virgin Mary. We were so captivated by the ambiance and the spiritual aura of the place that not a moment felt wasted. If time permits, an overnight stay is highly recommended to immerse oneself in the profound silence and tranquility of this exceptional locale.
For those touring Catalonia or planning a trip to Andorra, sparing a few extra hours for Montserrat is a decision you won't regret. The experience is truly invaluable.