About 45 minutes outside of Barcelona lies the Montserrat Mountain. On top of this mountain you can find the Benedictine monastery and a Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Montserrat, one of the patron saints of Catalonia. In the front of the church, a shrine was built on an elevated platform behind the altar. The statue of the Black Madonna aka “La Moreneta” is venerated at this shrine.
But getting to the shrine is half the fun. You can either drive or take the cable car from the base of the mountain (my recommendation) to reach the shrine. The ride on the cable car up the mountain is an exciting, yet short (10 minute) ride.
After a couple of jerky movements and getting really close to the rocks, our exciting ride ends. When we disembark the cable car, we are greeted by what looks like a quaint, little town. In reality it is a monastery, church and shrine. There is a fairly large cafeteria, gift shop and tourist information center also.
After leaving the entry way, one enters the atrium.
From the atrium you can see the church’s facade.
The church inside is quaint and beautifully decorated
Behind the altar is a covered stairway to reach the shrine of the Virgin Mary of Montserrat.
There is a beautiful, frescoed ceiling in the room before entering the shrine.
After walking up a few more stairs you reach the main attraction, the statue of the Black Madonna aka “La Moreneta”.
Each visitor can stand before the Madonna and say a prayer or simply look at the beautiful statue. After leaving the shrine, one enters an open area with sections of candles where you can make an offering if you wish.
There are many prayers and inscriptions in the Catalan language on wall tiles.
The Catalan language is the language of Barcelona as well as the Balearic Islands (Ibiza), the micro state of Andorra, parts of France, Sardinia and even mainland Italy. It has many similarities to Italian, French, and Portuguese and seems much closer to Latin than any of the other romance languages.
After exiting the area with the candles, the view of the plaza and surrounding area is equally as nice as when you enter.
After exiting the plaza, you can marvel again at the view of and from the mountain.
Since we came up the mountain in the cable car, we decided to drive back down to get a different perspective.
The day trip to Montserrat was one of the highlights of my trip to Barcelona (and this is a great compliment if you know this city!) And without a doubt, La Moreneta was much more beautiful and awe inspiring than any earthly Madonna!