Montserrat is a symbol for Catalonia and a point of pilgrimage for believers. The main attraction is the Mare de Déu (the mother of God), the patron saint of Catalonia. This Romanesque Virgin is popularly known as La Moreneta, due to the colour of the face and hands, darkened by the smoke of lighted candles.
The monastery was founded in 1025 on the orders of the Abbot Oliba, on top of a small chapel that Guifré el Pilós had donated to the Monastery of Ripoll.
The visit to Montserrat starts at the 16th-century basilica with Romanesque remains and a Gothic structure. Starting from here, the Plaça de Santa Maria, the epicentre, you can go over the whole complex, thanks to the great 19th-century renovation led by Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
Unmissable is the Museum of Montserrat. Its collection began with the materials of the biblical East brought back from his travels by Father Buenaventura Ubach. Since then, the collection has expanded with outstanding works from painters such as Caravaggio, Rusiñol, Casas, Nonell, Picasso, Monet, Sisley, Degas, Pissarro and Dali.
The museum being here is no coincidence. From the 17th century, Montserrat has been a cultural centre of the highest order as demonstrated by the exceptional library with more than 250,000 volumes from the monastery. Notable among the suggested activities is as visit to the Escolania, which is one of the oldest boys' choir schools in Europe, documented since the 14th century.
Near the Abbey, the neighbouring Monestir de Santa Cecília, is still preserved, which currently functions as the Sean Scully Art Space. Notable as well is the Romanesque church, also renovated in the 1930s by Puig i Cadafalch. Few know that this monastery was Abat Oliba’s first choice to extend his domains to Montserrat, but met with refusal of the community.
Strolling around the sanctuary, getting to know the history and artistic heritage, visiting the museum, choosing one of the many routes that run around the paths and going deep in the forests… The Abbey of Montserrat offers you several ways to explore and enjoy it.