Montserrat featured Image
You don’t have to travel far from Barcelona to escape the city and explore a completely different side of Spain. On a 10-hour guided tour excursion, you can leave Barcelona and visit an ancient monastery in the mountaintops and then sip local vintages in unparalleled settings.

Montserrat is a mountain overlooking Catalonia, but it is best known for being home to the Santa Maria de Montserrat. This Benedictine Abbey dates back to the 10th century, and it still serves as the home to more than 100 monks. The sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of Montserrat, has its historical origins in the hermitage of Santa Maria, which Count Guifré el Pelós gave to the Monastery of Ripoll in the year 888.

When you arrive in Montserrat, you’ll have the chance to visit the Royal Basilica, admire the 12th century statue known as the Black Virgin, tour the Museum of Montserrat or even ride a cable car to maximize the already incredible view from the mountaintops. Weekdays you get the opportunity to hear the angelic voices of the La Escolania de Montserrat, one of the oldest children’s choirs in Europe. There are also ample hiking opportunities for those who want to get away from it all and explore on their own two feet.

In 1025, Oliba, Abbot of Ripoll and Bishop of Vic, founded a new monastery at the hermitage of Santa Maria de Montserrat. The little monastery soon began to receive pilgrims and visitors who contributed to the spread of stories of miracles and wonders performed by the Virgin.

In 1409 the monastery of Montserrat became an independent abbey. From 1493 to 1835, a period in which the monastery underwent great reforms, growing and increasing in splendour, Montserrat was part of the Valladolid Congregation.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Monastery of Montserrat became a cultural centre of the first order. The Montserrat Music School produced important composers.

The French War (1808-1811) and disentailment in 1835 brought destruction and abandonment, but in 1844 began the restoration of monastic life and in 1881 there were the Festivities for the Coronation of the Image of Our Lady, at which She was proclaimed Patron Saint of Catalonia by Pope Leo XIII.

The Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) led once again to the abandonment of the monastery. However, the Government of Catalonia managed to save Montserrat from being sacked and destroyed.

Today, Montserrat has been modernised to continue attending to the needs to pilgrims one thousand years after it was originally founded.

After Montserrat, why not take the coach to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, what many consider to be the cava capital of the world. Cava is a sparkling, bubbling version of champagne local to Spain, and Sant Sadurni d’Anoia is home to some incredible underground wine storage cellars. You’ll have to chance to visit a winery or 2 and see how cava is made, from pressing the grapes to bottling it up. Of course, this is also the time when you’ll have opportunities to taste the local cava, revelling in the light and delicious flavour of this iconic Spanish sparkling wine.