Montserrat is a small masterpiece of rock architecture situated to the NW of Barcelona with soaring spires and threaded paths interwoven with tree lined slopes and composite rock faces. It is one of the greatest symbols of Catalonia, including a religious centre which has become a bastion of Catalan identity, along with mountain scenery including a structure of rounded and abrupt rocks and needles.
Its peculiar appearance, visible from many miles, together with the presence of the monastery where the image of the Moreneta – the Black Virgin – is worshipped, has made Montserrat an interesting place to visit. The massif, some 10 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide, is small enough to suggest that the walking will be straightforward and that you could cover all of it within a day. Far from it! The rocky spires and complicated rock architecture mean that you can spend days weaving in and out of the area trying to find your way in and out!
The highest peak of Montserrat is Sant Jeroni (1,236 metres), from which the most incredible views of most of Catalonia can be enjoyed, from the Pyrenees to the sea. Els Ecos, el Cavall Bernat, els Frares Encantats y les Agulles are some of the most notable peaks.
You can reach the monastery by using the historic rack train from Monistrol to Montserrat, (founded in 1892, it was restored in 2003 after almost half a century in disuse) or drive to the outskirts of the monastery where there is paid parking. From the monastery itself you can push further up the mountain by using the Sant Joan and Santa Cova cable cars.
There are several other villages around the perimeter of the massif which offer other alternative approaches.