Montserrat is perhaps the most important spiritual and cultural center of Catalonia.
Santa Maria de Montserrat is a Benedictine abbey and basilica located in the Montserrat mountain, which is called Monistrol de Monstserrat. The monastery started as the Hermitage of Santa Maria, the Mother of Christ, in 1025. A bigger Romanesque chapel was built to be able to receive more pilgrims. It became one of the best known shrines in the Christian world and the most prestigious shrine in Catalonia.
The statue of the Virgin is called “La Moreneta” because of the black color of her face. The statue is a wooden Romanesque statue from the end of the 12th century. The varnish on the statue has oxidized and because of the effect of candle smoke and the smoke of lamps, the appearance is now black. The Virgin has a crown of diadems and has a ball in her hand. On her lap is a statue of Jesus Christ. He also has a crown and His hand is making a sign of blessing, while the other hand is holding a pine cone.
The basilica’s style is a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance. To see it close up, one has to go through the portico on the right side of the basilica.
The museum is in a building across from the basilica and it is built underground, comprising of two stories. This was built by the architect Josep Puig I Cadafalch in 1929. There are many works of art donated by rich Catalans. There are archeology pieces from the Bible lands, gold and silver work from the 15th -20th centuries, and beautiful paintings from masters such as Caravaggio, El Greco, Sisley, Dali, and many Catalan artists from the early 20th century.
Do not miss the chance to take the cable car and enjoy the fantastic views as you make your way to the monastery. Do not also miss the Escolania Choir one of the most prestigious children’s choirs in Europe.