Montserrat National Park
Montserrat - National Park is the first park in Spain. It is located 50 km northwest of Barcelona in the Spanish region of Catalonia. In this area there is a self-titled serrated mountain, whose rolled boulders lined up next to each other at a short distance. It is named after an unusual mountain towering above the territory of the park, looking at which from afar, it seems that huge rounded stones are neatly superimposed on each other.
In 1987, the natural complex adjacent to the monastery was declared the national park of Catalonia. The local landscape is mainly represented by a few strange stone rocks, destroyed monasteries and crowds of tourists who came to see all this mainly from the nearby coast of Costa Brava.
The monastery, located at an altitude of 725 m above sea level, got its name in the mountain region of Montserrat ( « Cut mountains » ) 50 km northwest of Barcelona, where thousands of limestone rocks of bizarre shape are poured out in a small space. Human fantasy gave separate rocks the same entertaining names: Mummy, Brujo Bishop, Elephant Robot, Bernard's Horse. The rich flora of this corner of nature covers more than one and a half thousand species. Decorated with sculptural works and majolica and well-groomed mountain trails of this open-air museum, entangled in the vicinity of the monastery, equipped with indicators of the duration and complexity of the route and are successful for walking as tourists, so do the locals. The monastery has a developed tourist infrastructure. A cable car is laid to Montserrat Monastery. Since 2003, the « Cremallera de Montserrat » is operating.
The first mention of the Montserrat Monastery dates back to 880. In the 9th century, there were four skits, one of which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In 1025, a Romanesque Benedictine monastery was laid here. By the 12th century, a modern architectural ensemble of the monastery had developed. During his second journey, Christopher Columbus named after the Montserrat Monastery an island as part of the archipelago of the Lesser Antilles, now a British colony. In 1522, the founder of the Jesuit Order Ignatius Loyola made a pilgrimage to Montserrat. In 1592, the consecration of a new cathedral, built in the Renaissance style with elements of Gothic, took place. The cathedral was large, especially considering that it was on a rocky cliff. In 1811, the monastery was set on fire and destroyed by Napoleon’s troops. From the original buildings of the monastery, only the Romanesque portal of the cathedral and the remains of the Gothic kluatra have been preserved. For some time, the Benedictine monastery was in ruins and desolation. In 1844, with the support of the Benedictine community and the Catalan population, the restoration of the monastery began, which took about a hundred years. In the 20th century, Montserrat became the most tangible symbol of Catalonia and a pillar in difficult times in its history. Only within the walls of the Cathedral of Montserrat during the dictatorship of Franco were services and marriages conducted in the then banned Catalan language.
The Benedictine Order has been serving in Montserrat for over a thousand years. Currently, about 80 monks live in the monastery. The monks are entrusted with the direct reception and maintenance of pilgrims arriving in Montserrat. For pilgrims on the territory of the monastery there is a monastic hotel, a building with cells. In their free time, monks engage in creativity, as well as produce their own natural products: wine, liquors, cakes, honey, cottage cheese, nuts.
Montserrat Monastery is currently a Benedict temple and it stores an extremely rich and valuable collection of works of art. Among the exhibits there are treasures from both Egypt and the Middle East. In addition, there are religious masterpieces of El Greco, Surbarana, Caravaggio and Picasso. There are hiking trails in the park. The signs provide detailed information about the route, its duration and complexity.