All entries for Sunday 01 October 2006
October 01, 2006
A steep cable car carries you over a road, a river, and then over hundreds of metres of barren rock to get to hillstation Montserrat. When getting to the top, you are immediately struck by the clarity of everything, shining sun, open landscapes, and the outskirts and suburbs of Barcelona stretching out far below you. (The city is just out of sight, some 30 kms away.) Then, entering the monastery’s main square, you are struck by the sheer amounts of people and human activity going on. People having lunch, buying souvenirs, paradeing with their family on the main boulevard. Well, it’s a Sunday after all, and this is about Catalunya’s most holy and patriotic sight.
During the Franco years, visiting this place meant protesting against the regime, that oppressed anything Catalan; the language, political autonomy rights, local traditions. The most important place is, of course the basilica, where la Morenita, a wooden statue of a black Virgin Mary, can be touched by pilgrims to enforce the faith. A long cue stretches out in front of the basilica, for pilgrims just to touch this statue.
Besides the tranquil, mountainesque atmosphere of Montserrat, the surrounding mountain nature offers amazing farsights, and also amazingly steep walks. When you nearly get to the top, the views are great, especially taking into account that it’s the only mountain in the wide surroundings. You stand on a rock, look around, realise that this silence can only be felt hundreds of metres above the valley. The sun shines on clear rocks, all around green and brown colours. A moment you realise that Europe is also still a continent rich of nature.