Europe, Spain

Tarragona and Montserrat

No Comments 24 August 2010

Tarragona and Montserrat

In a pair of excursions from Barcelona, El Mono took in a mountaintop monastery at Montserrat and a remarkable ancient aqueduct near Tarragona. Holy water, anyone?

Monastery, Montserrat, Catalunya, Spain
The Monkey made a pilgrimage to the Monastery of Montserrat, built into the cliffs of a jagged mountain in Catalunya. First a chapel, and then, from 978, a Benedictine monastery grew up around a small, carved relic called La Moreneta, the Black Virgin, which purportedly dates back to Saint Peter. The monastery became a major pilgrimage destination.

Today’s monastery is a mix of old and new, with some buildings dating to the 16th Century and others, like the ones you see here, back to the early 20th Century. Much of the reconstructions had to be undertaken because Napoleon’s troops decimated the monastery in 1811. Owing in part to its Catalan language publishing house, the monastery has been a symbolic rallying place (and due to its religiosity, a safer one under Franco) for Catalan nationalism. Some 80 Benedictine monks still work, worship, and reside here.

Montserrat, Catalunya, Spain
Hiking above the monastical buildings on Montserrat, the Monkey encountered this sublime setting with foggy clouds passing over and around the rounded, tooth-like rocks of the 1,236 meter mountain.

Montserrat, Catalunya, Spain
El Mono creeps toward the edge high atop Montserrat. Up here, the wind can whip up quickly, so he kept a firm grip on the twigs of that alpine plant.

Aqueduct, Tarragona, Catalunya, Spain
El Mono poses by the Roman Aqueduct known as the Devil’s Bridge, near Tarragona, Catalunya. The aqueduct supplied water to Tarragona, which was an important Roman settlement. It was built from 98-117 CE, and features two levels of arches that span an impressive 217 meters over a ravine, at a peak height of 27 meters.

Aqueduct, Tarragona, Catalunya, Spain
The Monkey sits by the water duct atop the Roman aqueduct near Tarragona. The waters that flowed through this trough ended up in the fountains and baths of Tarraco, the Roman name for Tarragona, which served as a provincial capital of the Empire. Though you can’t quite tell in this photo, about half way across, you’d be almost nine storeys up in the air on a structure that’s 1,900 years old!

This Monkey adventure has been viewed 1397 times since the 2010 website relaunch.



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40,491,052 (2008)

Land area:

499,542 sq. km.


Madrid (pop. 2,947,228; 2005)


In 2006, Spain ranked 21st in the UNDP Human Development Index and 9th in total GDP, with a per capita GDP of $28,107.74. Public debt accounts for 36.2 percent of total GDP, while 19.8 percent of Spaniards are beneath the poverty line.

Main language(s):

Spanish, with significant Catalan, Galician and Euskadi-speaking populations

Monkey's name:

El Mono (El Moh-noh)

Fun fact:

The Spanish maintain a dispute over British control of Gibraltar, which they contend is an extension of the Spanish territory. And yet the Spanish remain unwilling to cede two similar territories across the Straits of Gibraltar, Ceuta and Melilla, to the Moroccans. All three territories are proof that old empires die hard.

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