THE DELOS INITIATIVE

 

 

 Mountain of Montserrat Natural Park - Spain

 

Since the beginning of history Montserrat (in Catalan serrated mountain), situated near Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain, has been considered a holy mountain. In 1950 it was declared Picturesque Landscape. In 1987 a Natural Park and a Nature Reserve were established. Nested in the mountain, there are a dozen of hermitages and two Catholic monasteries (Santa Maria and Sant Benet), one of which includes a sanctuary devoted to the Holy Virgin Mary, which has been a continuous pilgrimage centre since the 14th century. The Benedictine community has had, over the centuries, a significant spiritual and cultural influence. Nowadays, the Natural Park is receiving almost three million visitors per year, from which the vast majority visit the area of the monastery of Santa Maria.

 

The jumble of hundreds of marvellous rock pinnacles (made up of Tertiary conglomerates and sandstones) that give Montserrat its unique silhouette makes the mountain a site of outstanding geomorphological significance.

The number of vascular plant species recorded from the park is surprisingly high, with over 1,200 vascular taxa identified, of which 40 are considered rare or endangered. Furthermore, the Park is home to 29 animal species considered rare, endangered or vulnerable, including the Spanish Ibex (Capra hispanica), which was reintroduced a decade ago

 

The existing protected area covers about 8,000 ha and includes a buffer zone of 4,300 ha. A natural reserve of 1,760 ha covers the core area above the cliffs. The entire massif is included in the European Natura 2000 network. In light of requests from three of the four municipalities which share jurisdiction of the mountain, a project to enlarge the park by some 5,000 ha is currently on process. 

 

Because of its many spiritual, cultural and natural values, the mountain of Montserrat has become an outstanding spiritual and identity symbol of Catalonia.

 

 Responsible: J.M. Mallarach

 E-mail: mallarach@silene.es