A Restful Stay In Sitges After Visiting Soaring Montserrat

Our European nomadic adventure continues south of Barcelona with visits to three different and noteworthy monasteries. We followed up the monasteries with a few days in the lovely beach town of Sitges that we had heard about many times.

Montserrat Monestary

Santa Maria de Montserrat is an abbey of the Order of Saint Benedict located on the mountain of Montserrat in Monistrol de Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain. Before our arrival in Spain, several of our loyal readers and friends told us to visit Monserrat, so of course, we did. This particular monastery is sitting on top of a rugged-looking mountain about an hour outside of Barcelona.

Getting There

We headed out to visit our first monastery right after we picked up our car. The last time we drove around Spain, twenty-something years ago, navigating was so much harder. This time, our phones connect to the car’s onboard display. But I digress.

The route to Monserrat gives you dramatic views of the mountain on which the monastery is perched. Before we left Barcelona, I had read about taking a cable car to the top of the mountain, so of course, we did that too.

At the Top

Once at the top, we were surprised to see several hotels, restaurants, and what looked like a conference center along with the old monastery walls and the church. There were also two super-steep-looking funiculars. One that went from midway up the mountain to the monastery and another that went from the monastery to the top of the mountain. All of which were pretty impressive.

The old walls, courtyards, and the church were very beautiful with many works of art in addition to the spectacular views of the valley below. This monastery has a relic called the Virgin of Montserrat, which is enshrined behind the altar in the church. There is also a nature preserve at the top of the mountain, available for hiking. On our way back down the mountain in the cable car, we were able to see the walking trail from the valley to the monastery. There are beautiful shrines on the trail spaced every 50 meters or so, which I am sure provided time for contemplation and rest on your way up or down the mountain.

Monasterio de Santa Maria de Poblet

The Poblet monastery was started by Cistercian monks in 1150. This monastery was supported by the royalty of Aragon, who ruled Catalonia in the 12th century. This monastery is a UNESCO site and that always piques my interest. I have a personal goal to see as many UNESCO sites as possible. That said, the monastery and the accompanying church are beautifully restored. In addition, we learned how the monks lived and cultivated the land in years past. Actually, this monastery is still in service and we saw monks on the property.

Reial Monestir de Santes Creus

Nearby Santes Creus monastery is no longer in service but it was also founded in the 12th century by Cistercian monks. The kings of Aragon, Peter IV of Aragon, James I of Aragon, and his wife Blanca of Anjou were patrons of the monastery and chose to be buried here, in two Gothic mausoleums next to the high altar. The carvings on the crypts are very beautiful. There is also a picturesque little town inside the monastery walls that makes for a pleasant visit.

On to Sitges

“And now, for something completely different.” We have watched House Hunter’s International for many years. They have run many episodes on Sitges, Spain, so we wanted to see what the fuss was about. We were also able to meet up with some folks that we met through one of our Facebook travel groups.

Sitges is a coastal town in Spain’s Catalonia region, southwest of Barcelona, backed by the mountainous Parc Natural del Garraf. Sitges is known for its beaches and seafront promenade lined with grand mansions. There is also a small but charming old town with galleries, shops, and restaurants. We stayed at a lovely seaside hotel with a beautiful balcony overlooking the Mediterranean.

Our goal for this trip is to determine places we would like to come back to for an extended stay. We really liked the vibe of this beach town, which is also popular with the LGBTQ community. We would definitely return. Besides, it is only 30 minutes by train to Barcelona. It might be the best of both worlds.

Which of these places would you like to visit?

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  1. I had heard great things about Montserrat. Great pictures – impressive, as you note! Would definitely like to visit there!

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