Monday, 8 July 2013

Mont Serrat

Monday 3rd June 2013

Just outside of the city of Barcelona is Mont Serrat, a mountain named after the serrated edge of a saw due to it's jagged edged appearance. We knew there was a monk's monastery at the top so we took the van for a very slow drive up the steep accent. The drive up was cool but a bit scary as the road was right on the edge of the mountain cliff face with a sheer drop over the edge. Obviously there was a concrete barrier between us and the drop but because you could see all the way down it felt like the van would just swerve off of it's own accord any second. The view was incredible though. 

The highest peak is 1236m above sea level and it's not considered to be a very high mountain but because it rises abruptly up from the river with no other peaks around it, it seems higher than it is. 
Photo from Wikipedia

We parked up and walked a short distance to the Benedictine Abbey that is home to 100 or so monks that still run one of the oldest publishing houses with the first book published in 1499. It is also home to the first boys boys choir in Spain. When we got to the abbey there were a lot of people making their way to the door so we went along with them. It was because the choir were about to commence their daily performance and even though it's quite a large abbey it was packed with people squeezing in and trying to push through the doors when they couldn't fit. It was too hot and squishy for us so we didn't hang around but I'm sure they sounded very angelic.

There are a few walks you can take without having to have any mountain knowledge and be worried about getting lost, they take from half an hour to a few hours and you just follow the path round the mountain so we took the shorter of these to see the views. 

View looking out from the abbey

View of the abbey from round the mountain
We found out that inside the abbey there is a statue of a black Madonna which explained the two hour queue into the abbey that we saw to go and touch it. Apparently this is good luck. The statue has a black face and hands which could be due to overexposure from candle smoke or a vanish used on the wood. It is viewed as a bit of a magical statue and the legend is that it was found in the mountain by monks and they could not move it to their monastery so they built one around it. We stayed wondering around everything for so long that we found much later there was no queue at all to go see it so went to see what all of the fuss was about. It was much smaller than I imagined!

I'm not a religious person but I liked the stories that went with the building and the area such as the hermits that used to live up the mountain and would build their houses out of stone on the cliff edges. We could see the remnants of one of their houses looking up from the abbey. No idea how they got up there!

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