The jagged Montserrat Mountain in Catalonia is seen from great distances due to its majestic height of 4,055 feet (1,236 m). Formed of pink conglomerate sedimentary rock, Montserrat or “serrated mountain” attracts a million visitors annually. Looking out from the peak, Turo de San Jeronimo, guests have a picturesque view of the Mediterranean Sea, the Great Pyrenees Mountains and the landscape below. The location is a favourite among rock climbing enthusiasts due to its many towers and pinnacles and over 1000 routes have been mapped in climbing guides. However, sport is not what draws the majority of people to this destination.
A Benedictine Abbey is located on one of the mountain’s ledges and is the home of Santa Marie de Montserrat, the black Madonna and child. Legend states shepherds saw strange lights and heard singing coming from the mountain. The local priest was also witness to these events and brought the bishop. In this cave on the mountain side they found the wooden statue. Catalans to this day believe the Madonna possesses spiritual powers and that it was carved by Luke in Jerusalem and brought to Spain by Peter. Skeptical experts believe the statue was made somewhere around the 11th or 12th century. It is also believed that the Holy Grail was brought here.
Construction of the Abbey began in the 11th century under Pope Benedict’s guidance and construction continued through the 15th century. Wars damaged the site and renovations of the last two centuries have contributed to its appearance today. The massive complex contains a monastery, library, art museum and cathedral. Visitors are welcome to witness frescos, paintings and statues made by the great artists. Works by El Greco, Picasso and Dali are housed in the art museum. The monks and children’s choirs provide live performances in the beautiful cathedral and people from all over the world stand in line for a glimpse of the famous statue.