Meet your tour leader at Plaça d’Espanya. Once aboard a comfortable, air-conditioned, coach you’ll be transported about an hour outside of Barcelona to the rugged mountain landscape of Montserrat. While you travel, your guide will tell you all about the history of this fascinating monastery and the National Park where it’s located. Absorb the beauty of the surrounding nature as your guide gives you an introduction to the mountain before leading you to the Benedictine Monastery itself.
With early access to the monastery, you’ll avoid the crowds usually associated with this majestic site, meaning you won’t waste precious holiday time stuck in line. Inside the Basilica you’ll find the world-famous Black Madonna. This sacred statue is believed by some to have been carved in Jerusalem in the late 12th Century and draws thousands of visitors to the site every year. The Madonna is entirely made of wood and legend has it the Benedictine monks found it impossible to move the statue when they were building their monastery and, therefore had to build the monastery around it.
Then, you’ll have ample free time to explore the mountain at your own pace. Ask your guide to direct you to some of the site’s highlights or take a cable car to the top to get another perspective of the area’s magnificent views and unusual rock formations. You can even spend time learning more about the art and history of the mountain at its interactive museum and exhibitions. And don’t forget to stop by the area’s shops and cafes where you can indulge your taste buds with a variety of the region’s herbal liquors, cheeses, and honey. With a full-belly, you’ll board your bus back to Barcelona, awestruck by the beauty of Montserrat and excited for the sites still to come.
After being dropped near the Sagrada Família, enjoy free time to grab a quick lunch before the second part of your tour. With our trademark Skip-the-Line Access you’ll be whisked straight past the long entrance lines and into the heart of Spain’s most-visited building. You’ll probably be unsure what to make of this unique World Heritage building but luckily, your English-speaking local guide is an expert in all things Gaudí. They will share stories, anecdotes and local tales that will help bring this magnificent basilica to life. With their expert knowledge, you'll start to appreciate the brilliance of the seemingly cartoonish architectural details. As you walk beneath the rows of tree-like pillars and gravity-defying airy spires you'll begin to understand why Gaudi was known as God’s architect.
You’ll marvel at the beauty of the church’s two completed façades and eight dizzying towers inspired by the peaks of the mountains you have just visited in Montserrat. After more than 100 years of tireless work, the façade is still under construction and it’s easy to appreciate why. Our guide will share tales of Gaudí’s love affair with his final work, how he considered the project his personal holy mission and the great personal sacrifices he made in a bid to see its completion. Though still a work-in-progress, sadly, he would not live to see it finished.
Whether you have visited the Sagrada Família already or this is your first time, this constantly evolving masterpiece will never fail to surprise and inspire you!