Wine and Monasteries Route 2: Barcelona – Montserrat Monastery – Manresa – Ripoll
Most visitors to Barcelona will inevitably end up at Montserrat, a lovely monastery perched high upon a mountain just outside of Barcelona. While the trip in itself is nice, we like to combine it with a journey further out and, of course, some great Catalan wine.
- Distance: 103 miles
- Travel Time: 2 1/2 hours
- Cost (tolls and gas): About 17 euros
The Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery (often referred to as just “Montserrat”) is usually high on the list of typical guidebooks for excursions outside of Barcelona, as it lies a mere 31 miles from the city. Montserrat is a Benedictine monastery situated atop the mountain of Montserrat — at 2,362 feet above sea level — in the Comarque of Bagés.
Just a half hour away from Montserrat, if you take the C-55, you’ll find the city of Manresa. Manresa is a stand-out among Catalan cities because of its breathtaking historical monuments, such as the the 14th century Basilica of Santa María de la Seu (pictured at left) and also because of its wines and wineries. If you are stopping in Manresa, you must visit an ancient estate called La Masía, built in 1199. The Roquetas family owns and operates the property which houses below ground the cellars where some of the best wine of this region is made.
Manresa has great dining options and its local cuisine — called cuina de seca or “dry cooking” — includes main ingredients such as bacallá (cod), “cap i pota”, “morro i tripa” de ternera, bolets and wild game. And, of course, Manresa has great wine since it is located in the heart of the the Bagés D.O. region.
About an hour from Manresa is the town of Ripoll, where you will find unique local cuisine. If you visit in the winter, a required meal is Escudella Catalana, which can be found in any restaurant. Meat plays a big role in local cuisine, and lamb — which can be found roasted, cooked over an open fire or in stews — is one of the more popular ingredients here. Desserts are also popular here, among them the famed crema catalana and mel i mató.
Ripoll is home to one of the most important architectural jewels in Catalan culture, the Benedictine monastery of Santa María de Ripoll, (pictured at right) which was built in the year 870 by Guifré el Pelós. This monastery is extremely well-preserved due to remodeling and restoration efforts over the centuries.