The journey between the center of Barcelona and the monastery lasts about one hour

-The mountain of Montserrat is located at about 45 kms west of Barcelona . The highest point is the peak of San Geronimo , at 1220 meters of altitude . At approximately  725 meters above the sea level is the monastery of Montserrat , where 80 benedictine monks live . The only remain from the ancient monastery is a 12th century gate . In the sanctuary is the statue of the Black Virgin "la moreneta" . The choir of Montserrat is a very old institution . The choristers sing every day exept during vacations . The monastery has a museum with paintings by old masters such as Caravaggio or El Greco , catalan artists such as Nonell , Rusiñol or Dalí , french impressionists like Degas or Sisley among others . The museum has also a collection of liturgical objects and a section devoted to the archeology of the biblical east

-The history of the monastery of Montserrat dates back to 888 . The territories surrounding the mountain had been occupied by the arabs . After retrieval , "Wifredo el velloso" count of Urgell and Barcelona , gave them to the monastery of Ripoll . At this time , there were several chapels on the mountain , including Santa María , Sant Iscle , San Martí , Sant Pere and the chapel of Santa Cecilia . At the beginning , the authorities of the monastery of Ripoll did not give much importance to theses territories but in the 10th century , when the abbot of Santa Cecilia wanted to own them , they decided to recover them . At the beginning of the 11th century , the monastery of Ripoll was headed by the abbot Oliba , bishop of Vic and grandson of "Wifredo el velloso" . According to a legend ,  some young shepherds had seen the Virgin Mary appear at the top of the mountain , in the 10th century . The chapel of Santa María had been therefore converted into a place of devotion to the Virgin Mary  . In 1025 , the abbot Oliba founded there the first monastic community . In 1070 , this community became a dependent priory of the monastery of Ripoll . In the 12th century , a statue of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ was found nearby . Rumours said that it had been hidden there for muslims not to find it . The legend of Our lady of Montserrat got stronger and the number of visitors became bigger and bigger . Very quickly , the chapel had to be replaced by a bigger one . The devotion to Santa María expanded very fast . In 1409 , the priory became an independant abbey of the monastery of Ripoll . In 1493 , the monks of the congregation of St. Benedict of Valladolid arrived and Montserrat lost the independance . In 1560 , the construction of the present sanctuary began and the consecration took place in 1592 . In 1811 , the monastery was  destroyed by the Napoleonian troops . In 1836 , the "Mendizabal confiscation " forced the monks to leave and the monastery lost many of its possessions . The catalan monks came back in 1844 . The monastery was reconstructed and recovered its independance . In 1881 , the pope Leon XIII declared "Our Lady of Montserrat" patroness of the catalan dioceses




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