Mountserrat, Spain

On a gorgeous Sunday, we took a day trip up the mountain to Mountserrat with our guide, Rosa – a local to Barcelona and our apartment host.  It was stunning and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my birthday any other way.  Rosa gave a tour to remember and I especially loved that on this tour it was just our family.  A nice small group which allowed us to maneuver through crowds and ask all the questions we wanted.  The day was relaxing, and so enjoyable as we got a taste of the Catalonia culture.

Monastery

The natural draw up the mountain is the Monastery built high on the rocks.  As our trip was on a Sunday, we were able to attend a Catholic Mass given by the Munks of the Monastery Abby.  I’ve attended a number of Catholic Mass, however never this ornate.  From the outside you see very plain square/rectangle buildings with little flare in the architecture.  Just building after building really.  But inside is drastically different.  The surrounding villages have each made an ornate light fixture which hangs inside the Cathedral.  It was so fascinating to look at these lights knowing each of them was made with a specific look and all to worship and give praises to this Abbey.  The Cathedral was rich in color with lots of gold tones built into the architecture. The seats were all full by the time we arrived, and there was standing room in the back which was filled with on-lookers like a can of sardines.  Our guide, Rosa, weaved us up to the front where there was a rope to keep the people back.  She spoke with the guard who allowed us to pass for a better view.  We were able to make our way almost to the front and stand on some stairs giving us a better view of the Mass, and the room.  I think we all stood a little shocked as to what we were witnessing as it is so different to our own religious worships.  I quickly found it interesting how those watching were just truly watching, and taking picture, and video.  To me it was very disrespectful.  Our guide told me that is was “okay” to take pictures.  I expressed how I didn’t want to be disrespectful to their worship and inside wondered how the worldly aspects of life have taken over to allow all these people who were openly on Facebook Live recording the event.  It’s truly sad.  I did however record the angelic boys choir which allowed me to get a snapshot inside the Cathedral.  What a memory this day is.

The grounds of the Monastery overlooking the valley below are stunning.  There are a number a small walking areas for the best look-outs possible.  I was excited to see a sculpture called “The Stairway to Heaven”.  Unfortunately, there is now a chainlink fence surrounding the sculpture which prohibits climbing on these giant steps.  I had hoped to climb these stairs and capture a picture overlooking the valley.  Oh well!  As I was unfamiliar with my surroundings, I began shooting and happened to look out in a far distance as see a cross on a ridge.  Little did I know at the time that I would be making the hike to the Cross.  Are you kidding me?!?!  Nope!  And let me just tell you, it was a miracle I made it!  The walk was described as a nice walk.  It was clear that all ages of people make this hike daily.  I of course was still reluctant as my health doesn’t allow me such luxuries.  Especially knowing the day was full and I would be walking all day long.  I later realized that this hike likely was a nice walk for those residents of Barcelona who have spent their lives walking miles and miles daily which of course include the hills all over Barcelona.  For them, it was a nice walk!  🙂

The hike ends at Saint Michael’s Cross.  A place with a stunning panoramic view of the valley.  I can only imagine how gorgeous it would have been at sunset.  Truly stunning.  There were notes left on the cross, apparently those wanting to pay tribute to Saint Michael left notes and messages.  The big realization was how far we hiked from the Monastery.  I mean seriously, look how far away it now is?   Those of you who know me, and my health journey, pick up your jaw because I really did make this hike, even though I did have to stop a few times and rest.  I’m not sure I will do a hike of this nature again anytime soon.

I found it interesting how the river below has cut out the valley.  As you look down into the valley, you can see where the river has eroded the landscape.  Such a powerful force a river can be and such beauty it can leave behind.

Montserrat mountain has many amazing rock formations and almost all of them have names. The Elephant rock on Montserrat mountain is perhaps the most famous rock on Montserrat because of its natural shape of an elephant head and trunk.  We also enjoyed the Monkey Rock as well as the Mummy.  See if you can find these 3 rock formations in this photo.  It’s amazing what nature can create with wind and rain over years and years of erosion.

Inside you will notice a small archway with a man looking out taking a picture about dead center of the photo.  The Basilica de Montserrat monastery is home to the famous Montserrat black virgin sculpture called “La Moreneta” La Moreneta is 12th century wooden sculpture which is venerated for her healing powers and miracles.  Patrons stand in line to be able to walk past her, touch her hand and pay tribute.  It’s all really distracting really as Mass is going on below, and people are walking through this opening and clearly taking photos, selfies, etc.

The outside entrance is an enclose square with the buildings surrounding.  However the detail in the sculptures on the building are beautiful with tribute to the 12 disciples.

Catlan Human Tower

Our tour of Mountserrat was only a portion of our day but boy was it worth it.  We loved the views, the culture, the experience of it all.  But it’s not over yet!  We were fortunate enough to come out from Mass only to find a traditional Catlan group performing the Human Tower.  I can only explain that these events seem to happen like a flash mob would happen in the USA.  Totally randomly!  The energy to build such a tower is incredible.  It all happens so quickly and quietly.  The base begins to form as the participants begin circling around getting closer and closer to each other.  A base of hands emerges and out of no where, 4 sturdy men crawl up the circle to these hands where they take their position.  The base of hands are supporting their legs, their thights, and their bottoms.  Almost instantly the next level in the tower is climbing up the outer circle up the base and quickly forming the next stable layer of the tower.  They grip each others arms and shoulders building strength in each other.  As this level is settling in the next level has begun their climbing, with their barefoot they climb up the legs, back, shoulders of the previous level to secure their spots.  As these 2 girls link arms, they are able to stand up together building the next layer to this tower.  It’s impressive.  And then from the very bottom a climb of the littlest climbers, young children who crawl up the human tower like monkeys with their feet and toes grabbing on the waistbands of those they are climbing eventually reaching the top where they secure their spots and wave.  They WAVE with huge grins as the human tower is naturally swaying.  They don’t stay there long and quickly slide down the tower to the base where they almost peel off like a banana being pulled away by those in the base crowd.  One by one the layers dissolve back into the group with the final base of men literally falling into the crowd together.  As quickly as it starts it’s over and the crowd disperses.  Truly a sight to see and the video does not do it justice.

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