Montserrat spain church: Church at Montserrat Monastery, Catalonia, Spain

Church at Montserrat Monastery, Catalonia, Spain

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Montserrat Atrium and Basilica from afar

The Basilica is the name for the church at Montserrat. For most people it is essential to a visit to Montserrat for three main reasons. Firstly, it is, in itself, a Gothic building of architectural significance. Secondly, it is the home of Montserrat’s masses and choral concerts. Thirdly, it houses what is arguably Montserrat’s most important feature – the statue of the Black Madonna.

This page will provide details on the history of the Basilica. You will also find the opening times of the Basilica and where it is located, plus accessibility of the building for limited mobility visitors.

Book tickets for your half day tour to Montserrat from Barcelona with return journey

There are two organized tours that save you the time and trouble of organizing your own trip to Montserrat. They include return journey from Barcelona to Montserrat in an air conditioned bus. You can choose either a half day morning tour or half day afternoon tour.

Morning Tour

Click here to book your tickets online for the Montserrat Morning guided tour leaving from Barcelona

History of the Basilica

The Atrium of the Basilica

The Floor of the Atrium in Montserrat

The Atrium of the Basilica is the open-roofed courtyard area that sits directly in front of the Basilica. Five arches lead you to the main area. Look out for the iron sculpture of St Benedict by the sculptor Enric Monjo. It is situated at the entrance to the part of the monastery where the monks live – an area that you are not allowed to enter (for more details on the monastery and the lives of the monks who live within it, see our Montserrat Monastery page).

The atrium itself is known as the Atrium of Abbot Argerich. In 1952 – 1956 it was decorated by Josep Obiols and Father Benet Martinez. Designs on the right-hand walls of the atrium depict the most important shrines and basilicas throughout Christianity. Designs on the left-hand walls offer a brief history of Montserrat.

Take a look down and enjoy the marbled black and white floor of the atrium. It takes inspiration from the floor of the Capitolium in Rome that was designed by Michelangelo. The inscriptions at the centre are Latin and refer to baptism.

In front you will be able to take in the facade of the basilica. In 1900 – 1901 a new facade was added to the basilica. It is the work of Francesc de Paula del Villar I Carmona and carved by two brothers – Venanci and Agapit Vallmitjana.

The Basilica

Montserrat’s church is a Gothic structure that also uses Renaissance shapes and traditionally Catalan architecture. It was severely damaged during Napolean’s war (1808 – 1814). This meant that it had to be reconstructed at the end of the 19th century. The central nave of the church is 58 metres long and 15 metres wide. It is 23 metres to the top of the dome of the church.

Around the edge of the church you will note lots of ornate hanging candles. These are representative of a Catalan style of jewellery-making from after the Spanish Civil War (1811 – 1812). They have all been donated by Catalan towns and associations. Collectively they are there to represent the constant presence of the people of Catalunya at the feet of St. Mary of Montserrat.

On the central pillars of the nave you will see sculptures of prophets: Ezekial, Jeremiah, Isiah and Daniel. They were all carved in wood by Josep Llimona and were put in place in 1896.

The Chapels in the Basilica

All around the edge of the basilica you will see chapels. There is the chapel of St. Scholastica. It contains sculptures by Enric Claraso and Agapit Vallmitjana. The Chapel of the Most Holy One contains a large stained glass window. This window separates the chapel from the nave. The third chapel contains a painting by Josep Cusachs of the exodus to Egypt. The next chapel is the Chapel of the Holy Christ. There is an image of Christ on the cross that was created by Josep Llimona. The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception was opened in 1910. The style of the chapel reflects the architect, Josep M Pericas’ admiration of Antoni Gaudí, making it a good example of Catalan architecture.

The Black Madonna

The famous Black Madonna sculpture sits at the back of the church, above the altar area. It is framed in an ornate window, and you can see her if you are sitting in the church’s pews. For details on the history of the sculpture, plus information on waiting times to view the statue, disabled access and prices, see our Official Black Madonna page.

Opening times of Montserrat’s Basilica

As a church, the Basilica is open at all hours. However, it is important to remember that public transport to the Montserrat Monastery will stop running in the evenings. Running times for transport options vary throughout the year. For details of the Montserrat rack railway page, Montserrat bus page or Montserrat cable car page, check the page that you need.

If you would like to attend a mass at the Basilica, check our Masses at Montserrat page for mass times.

If you would like to see the choir sing in the Basilica, check our Montserrat Choir page for choral concert times.

How do I get to the Basilica?

The Basilica sits at the very heart of Montserrat Monastery. For details of how to find it, see our Map of Montserrat.

Disabled access

There is complete disabled access to the Basilica. There is a wide ramp to enter the atrium area and another to enter the Basilica itself. For details of limited mobility accessibility, you can check our disabled access at Montserrat page.

Unfortunately if you have a wheelchair the only area of the basilica that you will not be able to get to is the Black Madonna. However, you will be able to get within two to three feet of the statue. For further details, see our Black Madonna page.

The Basilica at Montserrat Monastery is at the very heart of what the monastery stands for. If you are at Montserrat for a religious pilgrimage, you will be moved by the spirituality of the place and will get the opportunity to see the Black Madonna. If you are hoping to hear the choir sing, you will get the opportunity to see them perform in the Basilica. If you are interested in the history and architecture of Montserrat, a trip to the Basilica is essential to your complete experience.

The Montserrat monastery

Even from a distance, the 1,236 meter high mountain offers a magnificent sight. You can also experience the distant view far into the hinterland of Catalonia from above.

The mountain Montserrat with the Benedictine Monastery Santa Maria de Montserrat is located about 45 km northwest of Barcelona. Book various excursions to Montserrat.

Arrival to Montserrat Monastery

Arrival by train

From Plaça Espanya train station, the FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat) train line R5 (Barcelona Manresa) leaves every hour starting at 8:26 am. The drive to Montserrat takes about 1.5 hours. A first highlight of the journey is the onward journey with the cable car (Aeri de Montserrat) or the rack railway (Cremallera de Montserrat) up to the monastery of Montserrat.
You can find the timetable for line R5 here.

Arrival tickets

Trans Montserrat: Return Ticket and Audiovisual Exhibit

  • Explore the impressive Montserrat Monastery and the natural treasures of the nature reserve with the all-inclusive “Trans Montserrat” ticket from Barcelona.
  • Ticket Metro Barcelona
  • Round trip ticket on the R5 train from Barcelona Plaça Espanya to Monistrol de Montserrat
  • Ticket for cable car or rack railway to the monastery
  • Ticket for the Santa Cova funicular
  • Admission to the audiovisual gallery
  • You can determine the outward and return journey yourself

Show prices & availability

Tot Montserrat: Transport, Museum Tickets, and Lunch

  • Explore the impressive location of Montserrat with this all-inclusive ticket from Barcelona. With return train tickets, museum entrances, a Catalan lunch, and unlimited access to the funiculars, take in the delights of Montserrat in style.
  • Explore the impressive Montserrat Monastery and the natural treasures of the nature reserve with the all-inclusive “Trans Montserrat” ticket from Barcelona.
  • Ticket Metro Barcelona
  • Round trip ticket on the R5 train from Barcelona Plaça Espanya to Monistrol de Montserrat
  • Ticket for cable car or rack railway to the monastery
  • Ticket for the Santa Cova funicular
  • Admission to the audiovisual gallery
  • Admission to the Museu de Montserrat
  • Typical Catalan lunch
  • You can determine the outward and return journey yourself

Show prices & availability

From Barcelona: Montserrat Monastery Transfer

  • Visit the mountain of Montserrat from Barcelona in a comfortable and air-conditioned vehicle with this low cost option. See the basilica of the monastery, and choose to visit the museum, or take some of the breathtaking walks to different viewpoints.
  • Self-guided stay on Montserrat
  • Transfer by air-conditioned vehicle from Barcelona city center directly to Montserrat Monastery
  • Photo stops to photograph the beautiful landscapes
  • Duration 5 hours

Show prices & availability

Change to the cable car at Aeri de Montserrat station, or go one station further to Monistrol de Montserrat station. From there, a cogwheel train runs every 20 minutes up Montserrat, directly to the monastery. Well worth the 15 minute drive. The price for the rack railway and cable car is €12.00 each (return ticket, adults).

Arriving by car

Anyone arriving by car or motorbike will truly enjoy one of the most beautiful serpentine roads in Spain.

It is easy to get there: A2 motorway, Martorell exit, then take the N II national road to the Montserrat junction. Approximately 70 km to drive from the center of Barcelona. You can already see the peculiar shape of the mountain from the highway. Montserrat means “sawed mountain”.

Excursions to the monastery and natural park of Montserrat

In addition to the Tot- and Trans-Montserrat tickets for your own arrival and many extra services, you can also have a good time: book a private or open excursion and experience a beautiful day in a wonderful setting.

Hiking in Montserrat Natural Park

From the monastery itself it is about 300 meters to the summit of Montserrat. A cog railway runs almost to the summit. From there you can hike several well-developed and signposted hiking trails through the Montserrat Nature Park. Several hiking trails of different lengths lead from the top station of the funicular to the abandoned hermitages. In any case, you will be rewarded for the effort of the hikes with an overwhelming view of Catalonia.
Although the paths are well developed, you should definitely wear sturdy shoes. A medium level of fitness is sufficient to master the paths. Please do not leave the hiking trails to protect the sensitive and sparse vegetation!

Montserrat Monastery

The massif is in the middle of a very beautiful nature park. Even the journey by car or motorcycle over well-developed and winding serpentines is a foretaste of what awaits you on the summit of Montserrat.

Bird’s-eye view of Montserrat

Arriving at Montserrat Monastery, you have an indescribable view all the way to Barcelona. However, the view of the city itself is not possible because of the Conserolla Mountains.

The monastery of Montserrat itself is not a special attraction from an architectural point of view, the scenery into which the walls were built is inspiring. Many of the tourists come just for the statue of the Black Madonna, patron saint of Catalonia. The 12th-century figure is enthroned above the high altar in the monastery’s basilica. In her honor, around 50 choirboys of the “Escolania de Montserrat” of the monastery’s boarding school sing church songs – Salve Regina and Virolai – every day (Monday to Saturday at 13.00 by the boys’ choir of the monastery school, Sundays and public holidays at 12.00).

In the Montserrat Monastery Museum you can see works by important artists such as Dalí, El Greco, Monet and Giordano. You will also find archaeological and liturgical exhibits.

In the lower part of the monastery area there is a restaurant where you can eat and drink quite cheaply.

The boys’ choir Escolania de Montserrat

The Escolania is the oldest music school in Europe. The choir was first mentioned in a document in 1307. About 40-50 students from 9 to 14 years go to the school. They can also spend the night there and also spend their free time there. But it’s not a boarding school.

The parents of the choirboys pay 20% of the school fees, a large part of which is covered by the Catalan Ministry of Education. A foundation pays the rest. If parents are unable to pay their share of the school fees, the “Fundació Abadia de Montserrat 2025” will also take care of this.

In addition to singing, the students learn piano and another instrument of their choice.

Knabenchor Escolania de Montserrat

History of Montserrat

Montserrat Mountain has had religious significance since pre-Christian times. Before Christ a temple was built here by the Romans to worship Venus. In the first documentary mention of 888, the construction of a first monastery around 880 AD was reported. It was hermit monks who had built various hermitages on Montserrat. The monastery was then founded by expanding the hermitage of Santa Maria in 1025.
Miracles are attributed to the Black Madonna found in the 12th century, which is still the destination of pilgrimages today. The monastery owed its strong growth to these ascribed miracles.

The basilica of the monastery was built in the 16th century, in the transition period between Gothic and Renaissance. The Black Madonna is kept in the basilica.
Many famous people made pilgrimages to Montserrat: Pope Benedict XIII, Columbus, Cervantes, von Humboldt, Kings Fernando and Isabella, Carlos I, Felipe II and Louis XIV.
On his second voyage in 1493, Columbus named an Antilles island Montserrat.
In 1811 the monastery was largely destroyed by Napoleonic troops. The Benedictine monastery was rebuilt.

The monastery resisted during the Franco dictatorship. Despite the ban, Catalan was still spoken there and masses were held in Catalan. Hundreds of people persecuted by the Franco regime were hidden here. More than 20 monks were executed because of it.
Today, this resistance makes the monastery an important symbol of Catalan self-evidence and the fight against oppression. The Catalans are still grateful for that today.