For my study abroad group’s second “field trip,” we went to Montserrat – a mountain in Catalunya. Its name translates to “serrated mountain” because of the bizarre and unique structure of the cliffs. Although there is a lot to see in Montserrat, we only had time to tour portions of its famous monastery.
The monastery possesses a one-of-a-kind art collection, which includes Michelangelo, Picasso, El Greco, and Monet – each room offered another incredible work of art. After being repeatedly awe-struck in the museum (seriously it was like a mini Prado in there!), we had the opportunity to tour the basilica and even visit with “Our Lady of Montserrat.” This Romanesque, 12th century sculpture brings pilgrims from around the world to her feet.
We had a little free time to wander around the mountaintop and then got back on our bus. An hour and a half later we found ourselves somewhere completely different. Really, if there were a complete opposite place on this earth from Montserrat, it would probably be Cal Rosal. When we got off the bus and started walking behind our professor, our surroundings looked like a ghost town out of an old Western film. The buildings were definitely abandoned, with broken windows and decaying walls. We stopped at one, which mysteriously had a pristine street sign labeled “Carrer del Konvent” on it, and walked in the door.
Cal Rosal was a city whose economy fell apart when its factories had to shut down, and its residents abandoned it. Now, a group of artists have decided to try to capture the city’s identity through an art collective in an abandoned convent.
Walking into the building was, again, like walking into a movie, but this time it was something straight out of the underground art scene. There were men and women chatting and smoking, all dressed in the trendy way you would imagine underground artists must dress. The permanent residents of the building made us an incredible fresh meal, which included hummus, baked potatoes, calçots, duck, flan and plenty of red wine. Then, we were given a tour of the “home” and were able to see dozens of works of art in progress. The space was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I’m so impressed by the artists’ goal. They’ve slowly begun to beautify small portions of the city with artwork and, hopefully over time, people will begin to return and help with the restoration.
Travel is so cool.