Thursday, 15 June 2017

Barcelona Day 3

Today we were up early to get the tour to Montserrat a multi-peaked rocky range located near the city of Barcelona. It is part of the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range. The main peaks are Sant Jeroni (1,236 m), Montgrós (1,120 m) and Miranda de les Agulles (903 m).

"Montserrat" literally means "saw mountain" (serrated, like the common handsaw) in Catalan. It describes its multitude of rock formations composed of strikingly pink conglomerate, which are visible from a great distance. Montserrat is Spain's first National Park.

It is well known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary and which is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian myth. The monastery is about 1,200-meter-high with views far into the landscape of Catalonia.

The Black Madonna, patron saint of Catalonia is a figure of the 12th century, above the high altar in the basilica of the monastery. Miracles were attributed to the Black Madonna. It is still the target of pilgrimages, and a strong growth period of the monastery is due to those miracles.

The mountain Montserrat has been of religious significance since pre-Christian time. Before Christ a temple to worship Venus was built by the Romans. In the first written mention of 888 the adoption of the construction by the first monastery of 880 AD was reported. They were hermit monks, who built various hermitages on the Montserrat. The monastery was founded by expanding the hermitage of Santa Maria 1025.

Our first morning views over Catalonia.

On the right the housing for the 50+ boys who live and are educated, not to be priests but in general education specializing in singing which they must audition for, here on the mountain. They sing in the Bascilicia every week day.

The hermitage where the monks still live today.

The entrance to the medieval part of the city.

The outer entrance to the Basilica. 

The cloister.

The main entrance to the Basilica. 

Looking back down the church from the above the high altar.

The Black Madonna that sits with her back to the high alter in a position where the pilgrims can walk past her and touch her offered hand.

Here you see her back in the arch above the altar in a small chapel.

The stain glass windows are just so beautiful, different to other churches we have visited, with so much clarity to detail.

Here you see her above the high altar looking down the church.

After walking through the church and being with the Madonna we rode the funicular to the top of the mountain to see the views. An incredibly high funicular compared to any others I have been on.

Looking over to the Hermitage of St Joan.

These rocks are known for their elephant trunks.

Looking back down to where the monastery is from the top of the funicular.

After being on top of the mountain I went to see the museum, which had a surprising collection of items for viewing from paintings of the masters, to archeological items and textile items.

This really beautiful statue of Anna and Mary from 1745 - 1821.

The term cross.

When we returned to Barcelona we had lunch at the Hard Rock Café and then walked down La Rambla one of the main streets and there were markets which had the most amazing display of fresh produce, flowers and eating stalls.

We then went on a tour of Liceu, the opera. The tour began in the lobby, a renaissance space of remarkable elegance,  then the Concert Hall , an impressive replica of the original horseshoe-shaped hall designed by architect Miquel Garriga i Roca in 1847, with about 2,300 permanent seats. The next visit was the Hall of Mirrors , which for many years has been the meeting point of the Catalan bourgeoisie and currently performs many more activities.

Amazing ceiling painting.

The ceiling central painting in the Hall of Mirrors.

A five tier audience area, where those on the top floor are unable to see anything at all, however the acoustics are perfect and they are able to enjoy the opera singing for 30-40 euro instead of the 300 euro ticket for the best seats in the house.

Again the box seats beside the stage are only for those wishing to be seen by the people rather than enjoying the show. The stage was currently set for a famous opera piece to be performed tonight. There are currently 400 people working in the opera.

The amazing ceiling panels are able to be opened for lighting needs of the stage. When closed these paintings of red chairs as are the seats in the audience form pictures of the Barcelonian landscape.

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