Tourist Information Guide

Basilica at Montserrat: The Church at Montserrat Monastery

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Montserrat Atrium and Basilica from afar
Montserrat Atrium and Basilica from afar
The Basilica is the name for the church at Montserrat. For most people it is essential to a visit to Montserrat for three main reasons. Firstly, it is, in itself, a Gothic building of architectural significance. Secondly, it is the home of Montserrat's masses and choral concerts. Thirdly, it houses what is arguably Montserrat's most important feature - the statue of the Black Madonna.

This page will provide details on the history of the Basilica. You will also find the opening times of the Basilica and where it is located, plus accessibility of the building for limited mobility visitors.

History of the Basilica

The Atrium of the Basilica

The Floor of the Atrium in Montserrat
The Floor of the Atrium in Montserrat

The Atrium of the Basilica is the open-roofed courtyard area that sits directly in front of the Basilica. Five arches lead you to the main area. Look out for the iron sculpture of St Benedict by the sculptor Enric Monjo. It is situated at the entrance to the part of the monastery where the monks live - an area that you are not allowed to enter (for more details on the monastery and the lives of the monks who live within it, see our Montserrat Monastery page).

The atrium itself is known as the Atrium of Abbot Argerich. In 1952 - 1956 it was decorated by Josep Obiols and Father Benet Martinez. Designs on the right hand walls of the atrium depict the most important shrines and basilicas throughout Christianity. Designs on the left hand walls offer a brief history of Montserrat.

Take a look down and enjoy the marbled black and white floor of the atrium. It takes inspiration from the floor of the Capitolium in Rome that was designed by Michelangelo. The inscriptions at the centre are Latin and refer to baptism.

In front you will be able to take in the facade of the basilica. In 1900 - 1901 a new facade was added to the basilica. It is the work of Francesc de Paula del Villar I Carmona and carved by two brothers - Venanci and Agapit Vallmitjana.


The Basilica

Montserrat's church is a Gothic structure that also uses Renaissance shapes and traditionally Catalan architecture. It was severely damaged during Napolean's war (1808 - 1814). This meant that it had to be reconstructed at the end of the 19th century. The central nave of the church is 58 metres long and 15 metres wide. It is 23 metres to the top of the dome of the church.

Around the edge of the church you will note lots of ornate hanging candles. These are representative of a Catalan style of jewellery-making from after the Spanish Civil War (1811 - 1812). They have all been donated by Catalan towns and associations. Collectively they are there to represent the constant presence of the people of Catalunya at the feet of St. Mary of Montserrat.

On the central pillars of the nave you will see sculptures of prophets: Ezekial, Jeremiah, Isiah and Daniel. They were all carved in wood by Josep Llimona and were put in place in 1896.


The Chapels in the Basilica

All around the edge of the basilica you will see chapels. There is the chapel of St. Scholastica. It contains sculptures by Enric Claraso and Agapit Vallmitjana. The Chapel of the Most Holy One contains a large stained glass window. This window separates the chapel from the nave. The third chapel contains a painting by Josep Cusachs of the exodus to Egypt. The next chapel is the Chapel of the Holy Christ. There is an image of Christ on the cross that was created by Josep Llimona. The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception was opened in 1910. The style of the chapel reflects the architect, Josep M Pericas' admiration of Antoni Gaudi, making it a good example of Catalan architecture.


The Black Madonna

The famous Black Madonna sculpture sits at the back of the church, above the altar area. It is framed in an ornate window and you can see her if you are sitting in the church's pews. For details on the history of the sculpture, plus information on waiting times to view the statue, disabled access and prices, see our Official Black Madonna page.


Opening times of Montserrat's Basilica

As a church, the Basilica is open at all hours. However it is important to remember that public transport to the Montserrat Monastery will stop running in the evenings. Running times for transport options vary throughout the year. For details of the Montserrat rack railway page, Montserrat bus page or Montserrat cable car page, check the page that you need.

If you would like to attend a mass at the Basilica, check our Masses at Montserrat page for mass times.

If you would like to see the choir sing in the Basilica, check our Montserrat Choir page for choral concert times.


How do I get to the Basilica?

The Basilica sits at the very heart of Montserrat Monastery. For details of how to find it, see our Map of Montserrat.


Disabled access

There is complete disabled access to the Basilica. There is a wide ramp to enter the atrium area and another to enter the Basilica itself. For details of limited mobility accessibility, you can check our disabled access at Montserrat page.

Unfortunately if you have a wheelchair the only area of the basilica that you will not be able to get to is the Black Madonna. However, you will be able to get within two to three feet of the statue. For further details, see our Black Madonna page.

The Basilica at Montserrat Monastery is at the very heart of what the monastery stands for. If you are at Montserrat for a religious pilgrimage you will be moved by the spirituality of the place and will get the opportunity to see the Black Madonna. If you are hoping to hear the choir sing, you will get the opportunity to see them perform in the Basilica. If you are interested in the history and architecture of Montserrat, a trip to the Basilica is essential to your complete experience.


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