Saint Jerome and the hermit's life
The walk up a sizeable number of steps and then another hour's walk up a vertical distance of 500 metres has its reward: you can see one of the best views in Catalonia. For many walkers, this is the main purpose of the trip to the peak of Sant Jeroni, one of the most popular points on the mountain of Montserrat. Even so, the walk itself is worthwhile for many other reasons, because it also offers up views of great natural beauty along the way –from woodland and streams, to viewpoints such as the Sierra de las Paparres or that of Mossèn Cinto –, some of the mountain's best known formations – the Seaman's cap, the Mummy, the Elephant's trunk or the Phrygian Cap – or hermit's chapels such as that of Sant Benet or Sant Jeroni.
The route starts from the Pla de las Taràntules, outside the upper station on the Sant Joan mountain railway (the lower station is by the Monastery). You can also arrive on foot, which adds another half-hour walk and an upwards climb of 300 metres to the route. Once there, you have to take the wide path on the right which takes you to a balcony where there is a magnificent view of the Monastery from above.
It takes a little more than an hour and a half to reach the viewpoint of Sant Jeroni, on a path that takes you to other notable points on the mountain, from where you can see the Cavall Bernat (one of the main challenges for Catalan climbers) or the Cap de Mort (a rock in the shape of a skull). Once you reach the chapel of Sant Jeroni, a small, steeply sloping path leads to the vantage point, which stands at 1,236 metres above sea level. You are standing on the top of the mountain of Montserrat, at a point where three municipal areas meet, in three different counties: Bruc, in l’Anoia; Marganell, in Bages and Collbató, in Baix Llobregat.
To return to the sanctuary, you can follow the same path back to the upper station of the Sant Joan mountain railway or change your route and walk along the head of the valley using the old Sant Jeroni path. In this case, you have to retrace the last part of the route until you reach a side turning between the chapel of Sant Jeroni and the stream of Santa Maria, where you must take the path downhill towards the Pla dels Ocells and the Monastery of Montserrat.
Don't miss it! Life in a hermitage
The mountain of Montserrat has traditionally been a refuge for a large number of hermits, who chose to flee society and its regulations and temptations, with the aim of living in an isolated place, far from any trace of civilization. This is the reason why the mountain is peppered with isolated hermitages. Of the thirteen chapels scattered across mountain, seven still stand: Sant Dimes and La Santa Creu, which are reserved for the use of the monks of the monastery; Sant Antoni, Sant Salvador, Santa Caterina and La Trinitat, which operate as refuges for hillwalkers, and Sant Benet. The other six are in ruins or have disappeared without trace: Sant Joan, Sant Onofre, Santa Anna, Sant Jaume, Santa Magdalena and Sant Jeroni.