Since I didn't have to work (for once!) yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the special pricing through my Spanish school and go on a bus tour to Montserrat, to check out the nearby mountains. We took the funicular up the mountain to see it in the limited time we had.The tour itself was quite disappointing - like any guided tour, it was a whirlwind through all the key points, without really seeing anything in detail! However, it has given me a great idea for a place to go back to.
Although the tour was "guided" by a University of Barcelona history professor, he only gave us a tiny bit of information at the beginning. The bus was full of ERASMUS exchange students, so maybe they wouldn't have been as interested? I don't know---it seems to me that they could have told us a lot more!!! In fact, when we got to the mountain, they took a group picture of us, and then let us be for 2 hours and then had a "guided" tour of the monastery, which mostly consisted of us rushing through museums with a guide that was stressed about getting two buses of noisy students to the same place at the same time...
Here are a few interesting facts:
- There is a large Arab influence in the area, due to the 711 AD invasion of the Arabs
- Molins de Rei is the industrial area near Barcelona where the textile industry in Spain started
- Spain was conquered by the Romans for 8 centuries
- In 880, a black statue of the Virgin Mary was discovered; it had been hidden from the Arabs. The monastery in Montserrat houses, and is dedicated to, this statue
- Apparently, it is common in Europe to have parades for various saints. We managed to catch the tail end of a procession going into a church (for a dressed-up model of a saint we had seen earlier in the day)
- The Baroque church/monastery is famous for its lamps - Tiffany & Co visited Montserrat for inspiration on how to design their lamps!
Stay tuned for more posts that are in progress - my annual memory post to my lovely Stephanie (I miss you so much!), and some ramblings on the magical medieval festival I attended last Sunday.