Saturday, 4 October 2014

Montserrat: OOTD, Black Madonna and Choir boys

Shorts - Joules
Top - F&F
Sandals - Clarks
Sunglasses - Primark

Hello lovely people. 

A culturally rich blog post for you all today! Whilst I was in Spain at the end of August we spent the day in Montserrat. The place promised to be 'soul stirring' and as a famous pilgrimage site, I was intrigued to visit. 

I'll start with my outfit: you may or may not know that over summer I worked a lot in a shop called Joules. It's a country clothing lifestyle brand and my shorts are from them. Although I was slightly hesitant to try them at first because a few customers have told me that the cut of Joule's shorts are quite dodgy, I was pleasantly surprised. They are a really flattering length and aren't ridiculously short which I like, plus they're not skin tight either, without being baggy. My only slight criticism of them would be the fact that the seam runs directly up the middle back, making it look like you have a bit of a wedgie going on, but apart from that they're great haha! My top was a hand-me-down from my Mum and I adore it. Plus after getting badly sunburnt the day before this trip the top was perfect as it covered me up a bit more than some of my other 'holiday' clothes without being too hot. 

On to the trip, a bit of history and some choir boys...

First thing first, you have to get to the top of the mountains. In order to do so you have to hop in a cable train which was great as on the way up there was the most stunning views as we got higher and higher into the clouds.

Santa Maria de Montserrat is a Benedictine Abbey and bailica located in the Montserrat mountain and oh my is it beautiful! The architecture was intricate yet not over the top and had a really wise, historically rich feel to it. The monastery started as the Hermitage of Santa Maria, the Mother of Christ, in 1025. Soon after the opening of the site there were stories emerging of miracles due to 'Mary - the Virgin of Montserrat' and the site began to attract pilgrims from different corners of the world. Due to the swelling amount of  hopeful pilgrims heading to the site a bigger Romanesque chapel was built afterwards in order to make room for more visitors. It has now gone on to become one of the most famous Abbeys in Spain, if not the most famous in Catalonia.

The famous statue of the 'Black Maddona' is one of the main reasons pilgrims flock to the site. It's basically a huge statue of a black Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. In one of Mary's hand is a golden ball representing the world. It is tradition for you to kiss or touch the Virgin's hand whilst opening up your over hand to Jesus. Whether you are religious or not, in my opinion visiting the Black Madonna at Montserrat is a spiritual and worthwhile experience. 

Our tour guide was lovely and really knowledgeable without over complicating things - she must have been good because she managed to explain all of the above to me without leaving my head spinning haha!

Another traditional thing to do when visiting Montserrat is to try the Monk's wine which they handmake themselves. Mum tried some and hated three whilst loved the final one but it was quite a fun little activity and seeing the faces she pulled after drinking them was rather amusing. 

The thing I was most pleased about whilst there was the fact that we got to see the boy's choir sing. The Monastery has it's own 'boarding' facilities and families can send the children to become a choir boy. I even saw one mother in the audience who very excitedly waved to her embarrassed looking son as the children processed into the back of the Abbey. They sung two songs beautifully and apparently do so every single day!

Overall Montserrat was a really historical, interesting and spiritual day out which made a nice addition to the 'lie on the beach' days.

Have you ever been to any famous pilgrimage sites, or perhaps Montserrat itself?

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