Car Hire Spain – Barcelona
Barcelona is famous because of its links with Gaudi, its museums, its shops and its nightlife, and is a great place for a holiday or short break. However, if you hire a car when you are in Barcelona, you can also visit some of the great attractions that lie outside of the city.
Barcelona to the Monastery of Montserrat
If you're on a car hire holiday in Barcelona, you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city by jumping in your hire car and driving to Montserrat, one of the highest mountains in the Prelitoral Catalana range. The mountain is named after its jagged appearance, with Montserrat translating as "Saw-toothed Mountain" or "Serrated Mountain", and one of its main attractions is the Monestir de Montserrat (Monastery of Montserrat).
Driving from Barcelona to Montserrat
It will take you about 90 minutes to drive to Montserrat from Barcelona in your hire car. To get there, head out of Barcelona on the Avinguda Diagonal and take the B-23 motorway. Take the A2 motorway and leave at the Manresa exit. Take the C-55 to Monistrol de Montserrat and then either park your hire car there and take the cable car or railway to the sanctuary, or take the BP-1103 to Montserrat. There is limited parking available at the sanctuary.
The Monastery of Montserrat
The Monastery of Montserrat was founded by Olbia (the Abbot of Ripal and Bishop of Vic) in 1025 in order to mark the location where the religious icon of Our Lady of Montserrat (also known as La Moreneta, or "the Dark One"), now the Patron Saint of Catalonia, was discovered.
Legend has it that this statue of the Virgin Mary was brought to Montserrat by St. Peter and hidden in a cave. It was discovered by shepherds in 880, following a series of visions, and although the Bishop of Manresa ordered that it should be taken to Manresa, it became too heavy to carry as soon as anyone attempted to move it. He took this as a sign that the Virgin Mary did not wish the statue to be moved, and so ordered a chapel to be built to honour her.
The statue currently housed in the shrine in the monastery's basilica is a 12th century Romanesque carving.
You can take a You tour of the monastery's the free Open Air Museum using the audio-guides and maps available from your car hire company. There are four routes available: the first will take you around the monastery's most significant buildings, including the basilica; the second will take you along the path that pilgrims used to use to reach Montserrat; the third will take you to the Holy Grotto where Our Lady of Montserrat was discovered; and the fourth will take you on a tour of some of the monastery's buildings and enable you to see a number of monuments.
You can also visit the Museum of Montserrat, which includes six permanent art collections; see the interactive "Inside Montserrat" exhibition; visit the Montserrat Library, which houses more than 300,000 books and manuscripts; take a break from your hire car with a trip on one of the two funicular railways; or hike in the surrounding area, which is a designated nature park.