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Climbing Montserrat

The first time I saw Montserrat, we were driving from Provence via Andorra to Barcelona in the summer of 2014.  I was so in awe I couldn’t take my eyes off it.  Luckily, I wasn’t the one driving the car. During that first trip, we only stayed for five days and considering its distance from Barcelona, we weren’t able to see it up close.  See related article here

Awesome view from the cable car

Awesome view from the cable car

Santa Barbara Chapel sitting on top of the rock.  Have you noticed the stone cold photobomber?

Santa Barbara Chapel sitting on top of the rock. Have you noticed the stone cold photobomber?

Five months later, here we are and I couldn’t be any happier to climb Montserrat and enjoy its beauty.  Montserrat, or serrated mountain, is called as such because it looks like the back of a carpenter’s saw. However, Montserrat is not only famous for its spiky mountaintop. It also has various amazing rock formations spread around the mountain.

Sean and I didn't know what we were queueing for until we were halfway to the statue of the Black Madonna (centre).

Sean and I didn’t know what we were queueing for until we were halfway to the statue of the Black Madonna (centre).

The basilica's atrium

The basilica’s atrium

For the catholic believers, they come here not only out of curiosity but also as a pilgrimage to the 12th century Black Madonna, who is believed to perform miracles. The holy patron saint of Catalonia is enshrined high up in the center of the basilica. There is a separate entrance to the Black Madonna at the right side of the Basilica’s atrium if you wish to see the statue closer, but be sure to bring lots of patience with you as the queue can be very long and the waiting time can sometimes be up to an hour.

I made this pic as an entry to Lonely Planet's #ventureout contest on Instagram but I guess the photo wasn't too adventurous enough to win :)

I made this pic as an entry to Lonely Planet’s #ventureout contest on Instagram but I guess the photo wasn’t too adventurous enough to win 🙂 Behind me is supposed to be the “elephant,” the “mummy,” and the “bishop’s belly” rock formations.

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey or better known as Montserrat Monastery is perched high up on the mountain overlooking the vast land of Catalonia

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey or better known as Montserrat Monastery is perched high up on the mountain overlooking the vast land of Catalonia

The trip to Montserrat from Barcelona is an easy one.  Sean and I took the R5 train that departs from Plaça Espanya.  We bought a two-way ticket that also includes a return trip on the cable car. There are plenty of choices on ticket inclusions depending on your preference, so don’t be shy to ask the friendly staff at the station. Otherwise, if you already know what you’re getting, you can also purchase your ticket at the vending machine inside the station.

Can you spot the Creu de Sant Miquel (St Michael's Cross)?

Can you spot the Creu de Sant Miquel (St Michael’s Cross)?

Closer photo of St Michael's Cross on the edge of the cliff

St Michael’s Cross on the edge of the cliff taken from a different angle

Being the adventurous couple that we are, we took another nerve-wracking funicular ride (Sant Joan Funicular) that took us to one of the highest summits of the mountain. From the top, you can see the 360-degree, unobstructed view of Catalonia and of the snow-capped Pyrenees.

Incredible natural architecture on Montserrat

Incredible natural architecture on Montserrat

And to make the most of our trip, instead of taking the funicular back to the base, we hiked down to savour nature at its fullest. Although the trails are pretty stable, I’d still advise hikers to wear proper hiking shoes.

Check out the rock climbers

Check out the rock climbers

Easy trail from Sant Jordi

Easy trail from Sant Jordi

Thick clouds started to surface in the late afternoon as we hiked back to the base of the mountain.

Thick clouds started to surface in the late afternoon as we hiked back to the base of the mountain.

I  love everything about Barcelona no doubt about it, but the best thing about our 2-month stay here is the experience of climbing the majestic Montserrat.

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