The hundred-peak mountain
Just half an hour from Barcelona, Montserrat Natural Park is ideal for discovering the natural caprices of its rock formations. Formations that are well known by the country's climbers, because, if Montseny is a Catalonian school for hiking, Montserrat is an authentic university for climbers. The great difficulties associated with the rocks of the conglomerates and the height of the needles make «the hundred-peak mountain», as described by the poet, Joan Maragall, a mythical place for lovers of climbing, via ferratas and ravines.
What you may not know is that the inside of Montserrat is as spectacular as its outside. The Salnitre Cave and the Cold Cave of Collbató are two of the best known underground cavities, but there are many more you will discover, if you are accompanied by an expert guide.
In addition to its extraordinary geology, the natural park also has very interesting flora and fauna. And the best part is that to enjoy it, all you have to do is follow any of the paths and trails that traverse the mountain. With a minimum of fitness and some mountaineering experience, you can observe Bonelli's eagles, hawks and bee-eaters, wild goats, squirrels and beech martens, and detect traces left by wild boars, genets and vipers. As for the forest, you will have a great time identifying the different endemic plants that grow under oak trees and on rock faces and rocky outcrops.
And if you need to recover your energy after so much activity, try some of the local sweet specialities. The best known are mató (ricotta-type cheese) from Montserrat, coques artesanes (artisan pastries) from Monistrol and dolços (sweets) from Collbató. Absolutely delicious!
Did you know that the really famous mató from Montserrat is still made by hand in the village of Marganell? Producers have been going up to the shrine's daily market to sell it for centuries!