Montserrat, source of inspiration
The architect Antoni Gaudí always said that Nature was his principal source of inspiration. There are several theories today about the landscapes of Catalonia that the artist may have had in mind when designing his modernist buildings of the Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera or the Casa Batlló, in Barcelona. There can be no doubt that Montserrat is at the top of any list. Gaudí was a devotee of the landscapes of Montserrat, and it is clear that the impossibly-shaped rock formations on the mountain, and the stalactites and stalagmites in the interior of the saltpetre caves of Montserrat, are among the places where Gaudí found ideas that he would apply in his works.
The mountain, however, holds more than just sights that inspired him. There are also several works of his along the footpaths. The architect from Reus was responsible for the Monumental Rosario of Montserrat, a series of works that are set in the walk that leads from the Monastery to the Holy Cave. He was the creator of the First Mystery of Glory, which is fully integrated into its surroundings, in a cave excavated from the rock. This work contains sculptures by Josep Llimona.
Painters and sculptors on the magic mountain
Montserrat was an inspiration for Santiago Rusiñol, Hermenegild Anglada Camarasa, Joaquim Mir, Joan Llaverias and many other Catalan painters, as well as foreign artists like the Belgian painter William Degouve, André Masson from France or the Irish artist Sean Scully, who has created and donated a series of his works to decorate the church of Santa Cecília de Montserrat, converted into a space dedicated to contemporary art.
Some of the works by these painters are on display at the Museum of Montserrat, a centre that is strongly recommended for lovers of art from all periods, because the collection brings together works by celebrated painters and sculptors from Catalonia and the rest of the world: El Greco, Caravaggio, Monet, Picasso, Miró, Dalí, Casas, Llimona, Rebull and Hugué. The museum is housed in a space created by the modernist architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch beneath the squares laid out before the Monastery.
The Mountain of Monsterrat an open-air museum in itself. Two of the walks that start out from the monastery offer the chance to see sculptures by a range of artists set among the trees along the path. The walk to the Holy Cave leads you to the place where legend says that the image of the Virgin was discovered, and it is lined by modernist sculptures that represent the mysteries of the rosary. On the other side of the monastery, the Camí dels Degotalls is decorated with monuments dedicated to Catalan artists such as the poets Jacint Verdaguer and Joan Maragall, the tenor Emili Vendrell, composer Pep Ventura or the lexicographer Pompeu Fabra, and features ceramic works dedicated to the Virgin.