While road-tripping across Spain with my family this summer (a wild time, by the way—keep reading to find out more), we decided to take a half-day trip to Montserrat in Catalonia. A little more than an hour outside of Barcelona, Montserrat is a mountain range—literally meaning “serrated mountain”—that is rich with religious history and incredible views. Nestled in between these pillar-like rocks is a monastery and basilica, with the latter housing the famous 12th century Black Madonna statue, the patron saint of Catalonia. Today Montserrat is a sight for Catholic pilgrims and tourists alike—I mean, just look at these views!
Because flying was (in theory) more expensive, my family decided to rent a car and drive across a foreign country where we do not speak the language. Driving in Spain deserves an entire post of its own, but needless to say, we quickly learned that paying the extra mula probably would have been worth it to prevent the stress (and stomach ulcers) that resulted from driving in a foreign country. (Oh, did I mention someone rear-ended us in Spain??} Lessons learned, lessons learned. BUT the silver lining is that without having rented a car, we probably would not have seen Montserrat—and it was certainly worth the winding, car-sickness-inducing yet gorgeous drive to the top.
Once you get to the top of the mountain and weave your way through the tour buses and large groups, you’ll find the cute little area of Montserrat. Along with the monastery and basilica, which is gorgeous inside, by the way, there is also a museum, a couple of gift shops, and some dining areas. Not surprisingly, my family ate some ice cream while here. I like to tell people that my brother and I single-handedly funded the Spanish ice cream trade while there this summer.
Also in Montserrat are two funiculars. One is longer and travels to the top of the mountain, where you can go on beautiful hikes and take in all the views of surrounding Catalonia. We did not do this, but had we spent an entire day in Montserrat, it would have been lovely to go for a hike and pack a lunch to eat as a picnic.
The other funicular goes down to the grotto, now a chapel, where numerous Virgin Mary sightings have been reported. There are lots of other religious stories tied to this spot, but to be honest, none of the websites explain the legends very clearly! So I will not attempt to do so either. This funicular was closed for maintenance while we were there, but we decided to walk the 25 minutes down the stone path to see the chapel (and the incredible views along the way, of course). The photos of me were all taken on this path down, which was lined with gorgeous religious statues made from various materials. You can see my favorite, incredibly timed photo of one of the statues if you scroll farther down!
Of course, we also made a pit stop in the basilica to see the famous Black Madonna herself. While the origins of the statue seem to be a little unclear, based on what I could find online, it is said the statue is now black due to candle smoke over the years discoloring the wood. Photos aren’t allowed in the basilica, but the architecture was stunning. The statue sits high above the altar, and you can wait in a very long line to see her up close and touch her, if you wish. We didn’t take the time to do this. I touched a fake statue in the gift shop instead and called it good.
In terms of my outfit and what to wear, I would recommend choosing something a little sportier than me… Cute shorts and sturdy shoes would be good to allow yourself to hike and move around easily, if that’s what you decide to do. If you can’t tell from these pictures, it was a little windy at Montserrat, causing my dress to blow up and giving me a Marilyn Monroe moment. (In fact, a lot of these photos didn’t turn out because the air caught beneath my dress made me look pregnant… Yikes.)
One tip I used while in Spain was bringing this denim collared shirt as a jacket. Instead of a typical jean jacket, which takes up a lot of space in your suitcase, this top looks very similar in outfits while taking up half the space (and keeping you a lot cooler than a jean jacket, which is important for your summer travels). I layered this denim top in today’s look, even though it was extremely hot outside, because I didn’t want my shoulders and chest to sunburn. Don’t forget your sunscreen at Montserrat!
Religious or not, I think Montserrat was a worthwhile visit to take in the magnificent scenery and incredible architecture of the basilica. We easily could have spent a whole day here with a picnic in hand and proper hiking shoes. So if you ever find yourself in Barcelona looking for something to do, consider spending the day at Montserrat. Assuming you didn’t rent a car (please tell me you didn’t) it seems that there are plenty of tours and bus rides to get to the mountain.
Have you ever been to Montserrat? Barcelona? What about Spain in general? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments! And if you haven’t been there, where’s your favorite place you have traveled to?
To see more travel posts and my other outfits from Spain, click the link below!
Have a great Friday and weekend everyone!
Miles of smiles,