Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
Manhattan, New York
February 21, 2002
Still struck by the span of time and architectural styles used in building the monastery, we walked through the Modern Facade of the Monastery, which leads into the Atrium of the Basilica. Note the Latin phrase written over it’s arch, 'Urbs Jerusalem Beata Dicta Pacis Visio' which means 'Happy City of Jerusalem, called the Vision of Peace'.
Like Barcelona, artwork is everywhere -- the three upper Balconies are decorated with works of the sculptor Joan Rebull (1899-1981). The one on the left evokes the figure of St. Benedictine, father of monks and patron saint of Europe. The one in the middle represents the proclamation of the Assumption of Mary as dogma by Pope Pius XII. The one on the right portrays St. George, with a representation of the monks who tragically died during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
On the way out from this square, note the series of sculpted figures that encloses St Mary's Square to the right that is devoted to the founding saints of the various religious institutions that have been related to Montserrat over the centuries.
From journal MONTSERRAT "Mythic Mountain - Sacred Monastery"
What I love about travel, is that in your discovery of a location or a site, you can fill in the blanks of history for yourself. Like learning that in 1811, the French attacked Catalonia and the monastery was destroyed. It was rebuilt and repopulated in 1844, and is now run by Benedictine Monks. The most notable icon at Montserrat is the Black Madonna. It is said that to have been made by St. Luke and brought to Montserrat by St. Peter in 50 AD. Carbon dating, however, has determined that the statue was carved around the 12th Century. Regardless of its origin and like all other religious objects, the Black Madonna represents humankind’s faith in God.
There is so much to do here, we could have spent a few days to take in the valuable painting collection, library, and museum.. At Montserrat, St. Ignatius of Loyola devoted himself to his religious vocation just before the founding of the Society of Jesus.
The mountain of Montserrat, which means "serrated mountain", is a unique geological formation of such unique beauty that it has long captured the imagination of artists, local and from abroad. Having been in Barcelona prior to coming here, we were introduced to Gaudi and his followers. We could see some of his influence playing itself out here. It seemed appropriate to discover that Richard Wagner stayed there for some time and that his opera Parsifal uses Montserrat as its backdrop
In the Middle Ages the mountain, also called Monsalvat, was thought to have been the site of the castle of the Holy Grail. Now we’ll have to go read more about the Holy Grail to appreciate that aspect of the mountains myth.
by Jose Kevo
September 26, 2001
Once you've climbed some brief stairs, you'll find yourself in the middle of Placa de Santa Maria. Buildings lining the left side of the Placa are where the two small hotels were...and I presume the apartments that are also for rent.
You'll proceed up a short rampway to porticos which allow you to enter into the inner courtyard of the basilica. There are intricate designs on the building facades as well as on the courtyard floor. The facade of the basilica has the carving of Christ with the 12 apostles. There are numerous works of art and such to see on the lower levels surrounding the courtyard and to the right side, where all the people are standing, are the slow moving lines waiting to traverse to the back of the basilica and the statue of the Black Virgin; Montserrat's most popular sight. Viewing is permitted between the hours of 8:00 - 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 - 6:30 p.m.
Inside the basilica is basically what you'd expect, though after Barcelona's Grand Cathderals it was just another "big church". Perhaps the highlights here is not what you see...but what you'll hear when the Boys Choir gives daily concerts at 1:00 and 7:00 p.m. except during the month of July. Their efforts stem from what is claimed to be the oldest, continual running music school in all of Europe.
Readers of my travel journals will have learned I don't go anywhere without poking around in the side areas and lesser explored places. And yes, Montserrat has a couple of those, too. From looking at my maps, I can't find exactly where I entered, but there's an outdoor alcove/courtyard to the left of the basilica which had several artifacts whether on actual disply or just stuck out of the way. It was in this area I found the smaller statue of "a black virign" who's photo also accompanies this journal entry. With the long lines waiting to see the real, major attraction, I had to determine this statue was as close as it was going to get for this trip.
However, I can't deny that with all that the monastery may or may not have had to offer...including a couple of museums I didn't enter, it was hard to focus and not be distracted being engulfed by the strange looking peaks which towered all above. It would be truthful to say these are what commanded my full attention and beckoned me higher...likely short-changing and causing me to skirt thru the monastery.
From journal The Sacred and Majestic of Catalonia
It's believed this area was organized sometime during the 9th century as a Holy place after an appearance by the Black Virgin on the mountain. It grew over a period of centuries to be eventually acknowledged by the Holy Roman Empire in the early 1400's with full independence. After another prosperous 400 years, the area fell seige to Napoleon and his troops during the Spanish/French war and in 1811, the area was sacked and destroyed and all the Monks were killed. Reconstruciton and repopulation of the areas as a monastery did not begin until the 1840's/50's. The current basilica was completed in 1901. The monastery continued to flourish in the 20th century including during Franco's dictatorship with great pride to the Catalonians...a region of Spain that was sour grapes to Franco's leadership. Today, it's said 80-some Benedictine monks call Montserrat home.
The history of the monastery pales in comparison with that of the actual mountain which is believed to have once been under the Mediterranean Sea. Receeding waters left heavy deposits of limestone, sand and rocks that survived the element to be shaped into the "must see" configurations that words can't adequately describe.
So don't be deceived by what you see...but, what about what you'll likely feel?
There is definitely "a presence" at/in/on Montserrat whether you're inside one of the monastery buildings or outside. With the landscape and beauty, I don't know of any other place in the world I could even come close to comparing this to. It's special unto it's own...and the monastery deems it Holy. Who's to argue?