The melancholy of the “Camì dels Monjos” and the Mola
The curious rock formation carries with it a legend of the monks of Sant Cugat del Valles
On May 25, 2020 Barcelona will finally move on to the long-awaited Phase 1. However, we are on the alert for the Covid-19 pandemic. A historical event that has changed and will change the way we live and socialize. Waiting for the next steps necessary to return to normality, if we can say so, past images and sensations of my excursions resurface.
This is one of those.
The city of Terrassa
The latter originates from Edgara, founded during the Roman Empire, later called Terracium castellum starting from 844. Today it is an important transport hub with highways and railways. Folkloristic events such as the typical major festival, the Catalan Modernist Fair, the Terrassa Jazz, the typical castellers and their typical dance the estapera make it an active and important city not only from an economic point of view. Unfortunately, it is also a witness to Spain’s largest hydrological disaster: La riada del Vallès which took place in 1962. From here the Montserrat and another massif called la Mola are clearly visible.
To be precise La Mola is the highest peak, 1104 m.s.l., of the massif which is located looking north from Terrassa, called Sant Llorenç del Munt. The layers of rock, of different hardness, subjected to the incessant erosion of the wind give it a powerful and solitary aspect. La Mola always attracts many people who love trekking and not, since on its top there is a Romanesque monastery now converted into a restaurant.
The train, coming from Barcelona, leaves me at Terrassa station in about an hour. The path to start the ascent is easy and clearly visible. As soon as you leave the city center, silent nature resumes its protagonism. The noise of the cars is far away and only my footsteps on clay and the chirping of birds remains. The afternoon and autumn air turns the green of the plants as the sun ends its daily arc in the sky.
Various indications lead me to a path called “Camì dels Monjos” (The path of the monks) which seems to lead straight to the summit. During the ascent, with a slow and constant step, the abbey appears and disappears to my sight hidden by vegetation. The climb becomes steeper and hiking, with photographic equipment adds effort and sweat to the journey. My goal is to get to the Mola despite the relentless sun is going down. The colors and the silence leave room for a strange feeling of melancholy, above all whenever I turn to observe the panorama below, which is getting wider and wider.
A melancholy landscape
I accelerate the pace, even if tired, in the hope of reaching the goal but the sun comes first on the horizon and I decide to stop. I put down my backpack and stay to contemplate the view. In the distance Montserrat watches over the vast territory.
I take some photos with relative calm before it gets dark. I wait a little longer, meditating on the impressive sight, before putting my backpack on my shoulder and retracing my steps. The desire to take the first train that takes me back to the city, to the chaos, to the overcrowding of Barcelona is getting stronger. Why? What is hiding this beautiful but equally lonely place?
A curious legend
“El camì dels monjos” refers to an ancient history. A singular request was made by the monks to their superiors who lived on the top of the Mola, the permission to move further downstream.
The request was accepted by the bishop of Barcelona himself with a condition. The Benedictines could choose any place but they never have to cross any river or stream. So it was that the religious descending from the massif, reached San Cugat del Vallès, where they finally settled.
The reason that pushed them to leave that panoramic territory was the need for a more fertile land and secondly for the solitude and melancholy to which the friars could no longer resist.
Obviously it is only a legend which does not coincide with the data of historical documents. Anyway, the “Camì dels Monjos” does not cross any river or stream, was often used by travelers and shepherds to descend from the Pyrenees and curiously the abbey suffered a period of crisis in the 12th century and the last hermit inhabited it until 1608.
A path full of stories
The “Camì dels monjos”, which connects Sant Cugat del Vallès to la Mola, contains many stories. Traversed by shepherds, wayfarers, armies and obviously monks, each of them has left a personal imprint on this path during all this time. Used to reach the summit or escape the severe solitude of the mountains in search of a milder environment below.
It will be the autumn mood season coming up but my personal impression on Sant Llorenç del Munt seems to be that of a last lonely outpost overlooking the most luxuriant and familiar valley below.
If you want to read a further story about the church, I leave you the link of a descriptive memory, by Don Elias Rogent, of the ascent to the mountain made by the association of architects of Barcelona. A book digitized by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
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