Basilica in the Sky
When visiting Barcelona
, it is essential that you set aside time for a day trip to Montserrat. Located northwest of Barcelona, it is only an hour away by train. This 1200 year-old monastery was built some 3000 feet up like an eagle's nest tucked into an enclave on the side of the mountain. It is accessible primarily by cable car with a tiny village consisting of the Basilica, monastery, two museums and artisanal shops welcoming the visitors. Primary attractions are the famous Black Madonna from the 9th century A.D. and the renowned boy's choir established in the 13th century and which still performs daily. The art museum contains the works of dozens of well-known artists including Picasso, Dali, Carvaggio and El Greco. From the plaza, one can take the funicular another thousand feet to the top of the mountain which offers splendid views of Catalonia and the Pyrenees. Numerous hiking and climbing trails are available through lush vegetation to memorable viewpoints around the peak. More than two million visitors come to Montserrat every year.