Montserrat: culture and spirituality | Cultural Heritage. Goverment of Catalonia.


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Montserrat: culture and spirituality

One of the emblems of Catalonia
The monastery of Montserrat was founded in 1025 on the orders of Abbot Oliba. It was built over a small hermitage which Guifré el Pilós (Wilfred the Hairy) had given to the Monastery of Ripoll. The star attraction of the visit is to see the Moreneta, a Romanesque carving of Our Lady of Montserrat, whose face and hands have been darkened by the smoke from candles.
The monastery of Montserrat can be reached in various ways: on foot; by car; rack railway and cable car. Thanks to the work carried out under the direction of Josep Puig i Cadafalch at the end of the 19th century, it is possible to walk all around the site, starting at the central location of Plaça de Santa Maria.
Start your visit with the basilica, a 16th century building with Romanesque remains and a Gothic structure. Since 1947, the statue of Our Lady Montserrat has been mounted in a silver retable in the upper apse. In 1881 pope Lleo XIII proclaimed Our Lady Montserrat to be the patron saint of Catalonia.
Opposite the monastery is the Museum of Montserrat. It contains over 1,300 items, from a 2,200 BC Egyptian sarcophagus to 2010 painting by Sean Scully. The collection started with items brought back from visits to the Holy Land by father Bonaventura Ubach and, over the years, it has grown with additions from such outstanding artists as Caravaggio, Rusiñol, Casas, Nonell, Picasso, Monet, Sisley, Degas, Pissarro and Dalí.
The information office is just in front of the rack railway station and it is here that you can see the 'Montserrat Open doors' video, which shows Montserrat from three main points of view: the mountain; the monastery; and the Sanctuary of Our lady of Montserrat. The visit ends with a moving conclusion in which the choir plays a prominent role!
A five-minute drive takes you to the Monastery of Santa Cecília de Montserrat, located in one of the mountain's most beautiful settings. Its church, which dates from the 11th century, was restored in the 1930s by Puig i Cadafalch and is one of the region's most outstanding examples of Romanesque architecture. It currently houses an exhibition of works by one of the most internationally renowned contemporary artists, Sean Scully.
Don't forget to try the local cottage cheese known as mató! It has been documented as 'Mató de Montserrat' since the end of the 19th century, although it was, of course, made and consumed a very long time before that. You will find it on sale at the market that is held up from the sanctuary where, still today, country folk come to sell their wares, such as mató, honey, cheeses, fig loaves and so forth, every day.
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