Not to be confused with the Cremallera train service that transports people up the slopes of Montserrat to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria, Barcelona’s Sant Joan Funicular Railway runs from the monastery itself up to the very peak of the mountain. It was built back in 1918 for monks wishing to pray at the Hermitage of Sant Joan, and today it still trundles up the 65% gradient to 1,000 meters(3,280 feet) above sea level for stupendous views across the wild, arid landscapes of Cataluyna. From this vantage point, signposted walking trails lead into one of Catalunya’s most spectacular natural parks; the peaks of Montserrat have been protected since 1987 for their dense forests, in which more than 1,250 species of plants flourish. Animals to be spotted on the mountain slopes include wild goats, foxes and occasional wild boars as well as lizards of all sizes and colors; for wildlife fans there is a small natural history museum at the foot of the Sant Joan Funicular, which shares its opening times with the railway. Four historic villages – El Bruc, Monistrol, Marganell and Collbato – also lie in the Montserrat Natural Park, packed with monasteries, churches, hotels and restaurants.
The funicular is close to Montserrat Monastery. It runs roughly every 20 minutes between 10am–4.50pm in winter, 10am–7.10pm in summer. Single tickets: adult €6.50; seniors €5.85; children under 18 €3.60. Return tickets: adult €10; seniors €9; children under 18 €5.50. Journey time is seven minutes.