On the ship, I decided that I would use the last day in Barcelona to see the unique site of the Benedictine Abbey at Montserrat - the extra charge was €41 payable to AMA. So after my big breakfast from the hotel buffet, we set out by bus - about 90 minutes - and then took the rack railway to ascend to the lower (abbey) level. The lower stations for the rack railway and the cable car can be reached by a regular train which connects to Barcelona’s Placa d’Espanya station.
A funicular railway goes to the top of the mountain from where I took some interesting photos of the monastery and basilica. It is a magnificent setting for Catalonia’s holiest place, the Monastery of Montserrat, which is surrounded by chapels and hermits’ caves. The terrain surrounding the monastery is interesting and dramatic - today Benedictine monks live here.
The inside of the basilica is intimately lighted and richly decorated. There was a stairway, decorated with sculptures, which leads to the small wooden statue of La Moreneta - the dark one or Black Virgin. The statue of La Moreneta is the soul of Montserrat - carbon dating suggests that the statue was carved around the 12th century. In 1881, Montserrat’s Black Virgin became the patroness of Catalonia. La Moreneta looks down from behind the altar and is protected behind glass, her wooden orb protrudes for pilgrims to touch.
Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain located outside the city of Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain. The mountain is composed of strikingly pink conglomerate, a form of sedimentary rock, and Montserrat is Spain’s first National Park.
We arrived back at the hotel by bus about 2:30 pm. I went up to my room for a rest and, for dinner, I did not want to go out so ate at the hotel. I had a very nice meal from the fixed-price menu - duck with red cabbage and mashed sweet potatoes, hearty Italian-style bread and flavored butter was included. I had red wine, and for dessert, I had the combination of four mini-desserts: custard, pineapple cake, chocolate cake, and yogurt with fresh mixed berries.
Photos belong to Phil Bianco