Tuesday April 15, Montserrat
Income tax day in the USA. Normally I’m a procrastinater, but due to our traveling schedule we were forced to plan ahead and we got our taxes done before leaving in March. It was quite nice to not have to worry about the deadline.
Our time in Spain is coming to an end, but before we left we wanted to take a day trip to see Montserrat. We booked the trip through the local tourist office which was just a short walk from our apartment. The tour was run by the same company as the hop-on hop-off bus we had used earlier in our stay, Barcelona Bus Turistic.
First stop was at a small town, Colonia Guëll. The entire village was founded by Eusebi Guëll around his textile factory. Everyone in town worked for him. Being a bit more charitable than many land-barons of the time, he also provided housing, a hospital, two schools (one for boys and the other for girls), a church, social club (bar) and a theater for his workers.
“The Colonia Güell is one of the greatest legacies in architecture and town planning in Spain today. Built at the end of the 19th century, it comprises a factory area, a residential area and the Gaudí Church Crypt, one of the most representative works of Antoni Gaudí. The whole estate has been declared a Site of Historic and Artistic Interest. Its buildings are outstanding for their spaciousness, formal beauty and simple shapes and volumes.” ~ coloniaguellbarcelona.com
His father, Joan Guëll had made his fortune in the sugar industry (sugar cane) traveling to the Caribbean countries of Cuba and Puerto Rico.
This is the same patron that had selected Gaudi to partner with him in creating Park Guëll in Barcelona. Once again Mr. Guëll asked Gaudi to be the architect for his planned community. Already busy with his masterpiece Sagrada Familia, Gaudi only signed on to design the local church.
And there was no mistaking it for anything but Gaudi’s work.
Originally planned to be much grander, the project was never completed due to the death of Mr. Guëll. The part that was done was the church crypt. After the death of their father, the two sons, who were not fans of Gaudi’s style, chose not to complete the larger structure, so the crypt became the local town church.
Also in town was a visitors center with a small museum that explained more about the textile industry, life of the local workers and the factory. We also got to sample Cava, the spanish equivalent to a sparkling wine.
The textile factory was closed a few years ago and now houses offices for other companies. Today only 800 (all retired) residents call Colonia Guëll home.
Montserrat is Catalan for Saw Mountain. Where the name came from was no surprise as the craggy peaks came into view. Best known for stunning scenery, for being the home of the Benedictine Abbey and the Black Madonna.
To reach the monastery, we took a train up the mountain. The views were lovely as we climbed higher and higher.
We had four hours up on the side of the mountain and it went by in a flash. Ideally one needs to spend at least one night on top. There is so much to do that we could not cover even 1/2 of what we would have liked to see.
We did manage however to visit the monastery, hear the boys choir sing, go through the interactive presentation and after strolling past multiple venders all selling local foods, had an amazing picnic while overlooking the stunning valley far below.
Our picnic was not fancy, but the view made everything taste so much better!
We ran out of time before visiting the museum or taking the tram all the way to the top of the mountain for even better views.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am thankful for improvisation. Our spur of the moment picnic turned out to be so much fun.
Mr. Guell–taking good care of those who worked for him. Impressive.
Monastery is breathtaking.
Brenda, it was nice to see a colony that was developed with both the success of the owner AND the comfort and lifestyle of those that worked in the factory. We have seen some beautiful churches on this trip, but I think that the monastery was one of my favorites.
There is a guest house there in Montserrat i think it is also an experience to stay over for the night…..enjoy traveling…..