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Barcelona, Spain

Cataluña (Catalonia), Spain Travel & Accommodation Guide

Cataluña - Region of contrasts - from the excitement of Barcelona city, to the rolling vineyards of the winelands and scenic rural areas, to the sandy beaches of the Costa Brava and Costa Dorada - a region well worth the visit...
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Barcelona, a city to celebrate and explore
Unique attractions that you should visit in Barcelona, Spain
Home Away from Home
Barcelona Airport - Costa Brava Holiday - 3 of the Best Beaches in Costa Brava Spain
La Mercé Festival Of Barcelona - La Sagrada Familia - Past And Future
Sitges - Resort for Alternative Lifestyles - Travelling to Barcelona
Monserrat Monastery (Monasterio de Montserrat) near Barcelona
Castellers de Vilafranca
Cataluña Travel GuideVideo of Monserrat Monastery

Barcelona, a city to celebrate and explore

Probably the most popular destination in the Cataluña region is Barcelona - a city that mixes both modern and historic in a wonderful way.  From the wonders of Antoni Gaudi's creations, including the Temple de la Sagrada Familia, to the beaches, restaurants, and shops, there is a neverending fascination in this seaside city.  Stroll down the Las Ramblas boulevard from the Plaza de Cataluña all the way to the Port of Barcelona, and enjoy the antics of the "human statues" along the way.

There is an extensive choice of accommodations in the city to suit all budgets.  You can choose from a hotel or hostel, or be comfortable in an apartment in the city centre for total convenience and that home-from-home experience.  Rent a holiday apartment and become "Barcelonés!"

Make a plan to visit this exciting destination, and also plan a sidetrip to visit the wonderful wineland areas close by.  Read more about Barcelona.

Montserrat Monastery (Monasterio de Montserrat) near Barcelona   by Michael Smallet

Montserrat is a mountain range in northern Spain, in the heart of Catalonia, near your hotel in Barcelona. The mountains are extremely beautiful, whimsical stone shapes at times resembling castles made of wet sand or huge statues that inspire you both with fascination and horror. A Benedictine monastery is situated in the mountains, which can be accessed by foot from the valley of the Llobregat river through a mountain trail. This place has been attracting pilgrims and tourists since long ago, and in 1892 a rope way was built from the town Monistrol de Montserrat to the Monastery. It was later replaced by a cable car, but the old funicular still carries travelers from the monastery to the top of the Santa Magdalena Mount, from where a trail leads you to the hermitage of St. Jeroni.

The Monastery of Montserrat was founded in 1025 by abbot Oliba of Ripoll and Cuxa. The first small Catholic churches and chapels appeared here even earlier, in the 9th century. Then the land was conquered by Muslim Saracens as they were called. Abbot Oliba apparently led the construction of the monastery, he was a famous architect and had a great influence on the development of Catalan architecture, introducing elements of the Lombard style.

In particular, under his leadership the monastery of St. Michelle de Cuxa was expanded and rebuilt. The Montserrat has seen many renovations, it was once destroyed by the Napoleon's army and then re-built again. The last renovation dates to early 20th century. Currently the convent accommodates about 100 Benedictine monks. There is also a hotel for pilgrims.

The monastery houses a statue of Black Madonna (La Moreneta), the sacred object of pilgrimage. According to legend, the statue was carved by St. Luke and then moved to Spain by St. Peter. In 718, the statue was hidden in the mountains of Montserrat from the infidels, Saracens, and then was lost. In 890 La Moreneta was miraculously discovered by shepherds in a cave where they saw mysterious glow and heard angelic singing. At this place a chapel was built and the cave was named Santa Cova.

The statue, currently housed in a monastery dates from the 12th century. There are various theories explaining the strange black color of the Madonna and the child, but none of them is sufficiently substantiated. It is likely that the statue was darkened by the soot from so many candles which were lit around it for days and nights over centuries.

Black Madonna was the pilgrimage destination for so many historical personalities, including St. Ignatius Loyola, who hung weapons at her altar and embarked on the path of religious asceticism. In 1881 the statue was canonized by Pope Leo 13th and declared as the patron saint of Catalonia. It is believed that the Black Madonna can help women find the happiness of motherhood, that is why there are so many women and young couples visiting this monastery.

The gallery of the monastery contains a small yet rich collection of classical (El Greco, Caravaggio, Morales) and modern (Degas, Picasso, Dali) paintings.

The extensive library of the monastery was almost completely destroyed during the Napoleonic wars. Currently, the library contains over 400 original manuscripts, including Egyptian papyri, rare medieval manuscripts, as well as the famous collection of hymns Libre Vermille (Red Book), compiled by monks of the monastery in the 14th century to be sung by pilgrims during the night vigils.

In the church of Santa Maria de Montserrat degli Spagnolo two of the Pope Borgia family were buried: Callistus III (1455-1458) and Alexander The 6th (1492-1503).

Hours: From June 21 to December 20, daily: 7:00 - 20:30. From December 21 to June 20, daily: 7:00 - 19:30. Admission is free.



Small Hotels/B&Bs/Guest Houses:

Alt Penedes - Baix Emporda - Barcelona - Berga

Alt Penedes - this region has earned increasing recognition in recent years for its wines and cavas. The Alt Penedes has beautiful, peaceful countryside. The unique topography of the land renders it an incredible place to grow grapes and, simply, a fine part of the world to visit. Click to view map de Can Coral, Country House/B&B, Alt Penedes
Enchanting country house ideal for romantic holidays. The Masia is situated in the wine country "Alt Penedes" in 30 min distance to the beach and 50 minutes distance to Barcelona.  Guests relax in the spacious drawing-room with open fireplace, in their rooms with private fireplace or terrace or in the Mediterranean garden with private swimming pool and views over the vineyards.   Your hosts Rainer and Ariane take care of bookings for excursions to the nearby wine cellars, bicycle renting, excursions in 4-wheel drives or whatever activity you choose.
Cal Mestre, Guest House, Alt Penedes, Barcelona Province
Originally designed as a country house in the 16th century, Cal Mestre is the second oldest building in the picturesque hamlet of Les Gunyoles, in the province of Barcelona.   Visitors will delight in the spectacular views of the valley of vineyards from which the Penedès wine is produced, and the unique, rugged peaks of Montserrat. Here there are so many different atmospheres for you to enjoy: the peace and quiet of the beautiful Catalan countryside, culture, the fascinating city of Barcelona with its outstanding architecture and boulevards, the old Roman city of Tarragona, sports activities, beaches and all the gastronomic delights of Mediterranean cuisine.
Mas Masaller Rural Bed & Breakfast, Cruilles, Baix Emporda
Mas Masaller is a 13th-century farmhouse reformed in 2010, located in Cruïlles, next to La Bisbal d’Empordà, at the foot of the Gavarres Hills (declared an Area of Natural Interest). The ground floor of Mas Masaller still displays all of its original layout of stables.  The wine barrels are integrated into the dining-room located in the part renovated in 2010.  Outside the house, in what was formerly the vegetable garden, there is now a garden of some 500 m², fully enclosed by a stone wall and containing the house’s well and plant nursery. Mas Masaller has 6 bedrooms (doubles, triples and quadruples) with a total capacity for 15 guests. In keeping with the general style of Mas Masaller, the decoration of the bedrooms is sober and elegant, with a predominance of the old furniture of the house, suitably restored and updated. 

Berga - small town right at the beginning of the Pyrenees mountains, in the Barcelona Province, and 90 kms from Barcelona.  Lovely area for hunting, skiing, fishing and other sports.  Close to France and Andorra. Click to view map
Hotel Estel, Berga
The hotel is situated in the beginning of the Pyrenees Mountains about 90 km to Barcelona, the best place in central Catalonia to fishing, hunting, skiing and other sports. This hotel is located in Berga, a little city between Barcelona and France. This property opened in 1984, and was renovated in 2001. Halfway to Andorra and about 30 minutes of distance by car from one of the best ski stations of Spain La Molina. 

Latest update: November 24, 2019