“Montenegro 🇲🇪 ~Perast, Risan, Stoliv, Prcanj, and Herceg Novi”

Yep, another very busy day with lots more driving, but we would not have it any other way! We had looked forward to returning to south Montenegro one day, when we had more time! ✅ Mission is almost complete, as we will leave Montenegro for Serbia 🇷🇸, very soon. AND, we will be leaving very filled up!

(pardon the “hat “ hair, again. It’s the norm for this gal. It is what it is 🙄

After we reluctantly left our hotel room stay, inside the Kotor Fortress, we started to visit the list of villages in the Kotor Municipality, I had put together. We accomplished what we set out to see, sans one village, which eluded us; yet today, we did find another village, called Risan, which we could not find, previously, so win-win! (if you are following, the spelling was a huge issue on that search, and we found “Resna,” instead.

Though we searched high and low, yesterday, Lastva was not meant to be. Many locations have more than one name and/or spelling. This is never easy to decipher, for the self-touring humans, such as us; especially since we specialize in off-the-beaten-path places. What we do hit on, more than makes up for anything missed, because the destination is not the only part of the satisfaction, when it comes to the beauty we find ourselves in.

We were blown away by what we did get to see, today! We continue to enjoy no crowds, masks only required in stores, not out and about, no heavy traffic, and perfect weather, other then a smidge too hot!

Now, for a trip through the villages by the sea, we visited!

PERAST and it’s ISLANDS

Perast is a must, if you ever come to South Montenegro! It’s very small, but it boasts huge architectural and historical heritage. Settled between Kotor and Herceg Novi, in the middle of Boka Bay, Perast has held a strategic position since the medieval times and today it is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The draw of the wonderful Perast, goes beyond its rich heritage. Even coming a second time, I felt drawn in, as if I traveled back in time and got to walk through 18th century Montenegro. There is something magical about this village, and the land it stands on.

Just imagine a village, with only one main road,, but 17 Catholic churches, two Orthodox churches and 19 palaces! For its small size, Perast certainly packs a punch and there is much to explore. 
Unlike most Montenegrin old towns, which are surrounded by large defensive walls, the old baroque town of Perast is recognizable by its nine defensive towers. One of the most famous is the tower of the Holy Cross, which sits above the town and dates all the way back to 1570. According to what I’ve read, “nine” is a magical number, and Perast, guarded by its nine bewitching towers, certainly feels like something out of a fairy tale! 
Over the centuries, many empires have tried to conquer Perast: the Byzantine empire, the Republic of Venice, Hungary, Austria; all of which left their mark. Perast reached the height of its power, as one of the most influential nautical centers of the Adriatic, full of skilled local mariners, while under Venetian rule. It is no surprise, therefore, that the villages overall architectural style is rich in Venetian flourish. 
Take to the Old Town’s road, walking and letting Perast’s rich history seep into you, as you look upon its churches, towers and unique homes. Each building whispers its own story to those who care to listen.

This baroque town also offers stunning views out onto Verige, the narrowest part of the Bay of Kotor. Take a seat by the water’s edge and immerse yourself in the town’s surrounding beauty.
From up on the main Panoramic Road “3” the view over the village of Perast is fabulous, too.
St. George island
This small island guards a small church from the 12th century; a Benedictine monastery. The archive records of the church and priory of Sv. Đorđe “Sanctus Georgius de Gulfo” date back to 1166 when Iva; abbot of Sv. Jurje, attended consecration of the new second Romanesque church of Sv. Tripun in Kotor. However, according to the findings of the ornaments on the church, it is assumed that the Benedictines had lived in the church since the 9th century.
While it is not accessible to public, just passing by it, on your way to Our Lady of the Rock, will make a lasting impression. Empty of human life and living sound, this island has the gloomy name; “The island of the dead.”
Its name derives from Saint George, the patron saint of Kotor, in ancient times; the isle was a lot closer to Risan and the coast. After a great cataclysm struck this region in the 6th century, and when part of the coast was forever lost at sea due to the earthquake, the island has become more reclusive and lonely
Today The island with live cypresses, church, priory, ramparts, loopholes and watchtowers, was and still is the inspiration of painters and the subject of oral traditions and legends. St. George island, named after the protector of Kotor city, also has a story; a rather dark one than the one about Our Lady of the Rock
.
 The island was used as a cemetery for residents of Perast. It is said that it was also called the “cursed islan,” since the Roman Pope officially cursed it because of a terrible crime that occurred on the island. Christians were afraid to step on it because they were afraid that the anathema of the Pope would get them. A legend says that the island had been white for centuries until the Benedictines came and planted cypresses – the symbols of death and transience of life.
“Our Lady of the Rock”
One could say that the most recognizable picture of Boka Bay, maybe even all of Montenegro, is one of Perast’s two nearby islands: Our Lady of the Rocks. It’s a man-made island built upon one of the most amazing legends you will ever hear.
It all began in July 1452, when seamen found a picture of the Madonna and Child on a rock in the bay, opposite the town of Perast. The sailors made an oath to lay a rock in the bay upon returning from each successful voyage. As time passed, the islet grew and emerged from the sea. The customs from this story are still very much alive today. Each year on the 22nd July, local residents and tourists join together to celebrate the festival of “Easinada.”Not just that, but every time any sort of vessel steers around it, from a small summer speedboat to a huge cruise liner, a loud horn is sounded in honour of Our Lady of the Rock.


The following 22 photos are from our 2016 visit, when we rode on a boat to Our Lady of the Rock Church. We could not have improved on this former trip to this island church, so did not choose to go again. To date, this little church is one of my favorite churches I’ve seenout in the world!
On the boat ride over from the shore of Perast Village
It was about as peaceful
Looking back at Perast, from on the Rock Church
Looking at St George Island from Our Lady of the Rock Church
The church is particularly significant because of a numerous artifacts. There are 68 paintings of Tripo Kokolja; a famous 17th-century baroque artist from Perast.
Among the most impressive works is the one made by Jacinta Kunic from Perast. While waiting for her husband who was a sailor, to return from a long journey, she embroidered a tapestry of the Holy Virgin. She used golden and silver threads, but the most interesting fact is that she had actually embroidered her own hair in it. It took her 25 years to finish it, after which she became blind.
I was blown away, with this magnificent Church.
Inside the church is a marble altar built in 1796 by Antonio Kapelano, a sculptor from Genova. On the altar there is the icon of the Lady of the Rocks, painted by the famous painter Lovro Dobričević in the middle of the 15th century.
At first, we noticed the downstairs was tidy and clean, but empty….
…..till we discovered the rooms where “all the nicknacks go to die”

NOW, back to our current visit of 2020, below.

Perast is also known for its palaces. Standing silent and proud, which are symbols of the town’s historic greatness, rich heritage, and outstanding beauty. There are 19 palaces in total, the majority of them originating in the period between the 17th and 18th centuries. While they express the architecture of Perast, which combines traditional and baroque elements, they maintain a measure of simplicity, eschewing the flowery baroque style for clean-lined elegance. 
There is a legend that says that the palace was built with stone from crushed Herzegovinian walls after the liberation from the Turks in 1687. True or not, it’s one of the most beautiful baroque buildings on the whole Adriatic coast, built by the Venetian architect Dovani Batista Fontana.
The biggest and arguably most impressive palace in Perast is Zmajević, which served as the residence for two bishops, Andrija and Vicko Zmajević. The palace is also located in the western part of the village. It was built upon a rock made from a local stone, and although it was built in stages, it looks as if it grew up overnight, a palace of imposing strength and powerful beauty. Within, you can discover stories of its past and view its stunning interiors and ornaments. 
Besides these two, there are many more palaces to visit if you want to take the time. Being here during a pandemic, many sites are closed, but normally there is :Palace Bronza, Palace Smekja, Palace Viskovi, available for viewing.
In the very center of the Old Town, you’ll find St. Nicholas Church, built back in the 17th century. It was never completed and probably never will be!
The bell tower is one of the main symbols of the city of Perast. It is a bit over 180 feet high and is the second tallest bell tower in the Adriatic shore. The bell tower was built in the seventeenth century. The big clock on the bell tower stands still at 4:00, ever since 1979 when Boka was struck by a strong earthquake. There are 60 narrow stairs leading to the top of the bell tower, (closed at this time) offering a beautiful view of Perast’s roofs and the entire bay. The bell tower is located on St. Nikola Square.

STOLIV

Stoliv first developed on the hill above the sea, where the population had better conditions for defense against the enemy, who in Boka mostly came from the sea.

The resort on the coast was formed by the development of maritime in the 16th and 17th centuries, with the oldest written document in the Historical archive in Kotor mentioning Stoliv dates from the beginning of the 14th century. 
“There are several theories about the origin of the name Stoliv. The most likely and most acceptable variant is that the name Stoliv comes from “one hundred olive trees,” in Montenegrin: “Sto Oliva.” It came by the unwritten rule that the young man of Stoliv had to plant one hundred olive trees to be able to marry. When we know that olives and chestnut trees for centuries were the main economics of the place, it might not sound so far-fetched
.

RISAN

Ancient Risan dates back to the 2nd century BC. The city was founded by the Illyrians, more precisely by the Illyrian tribe Rizoniti, after which the present-day Risan is name (Risinium). Risan was the center of Illyria’s maritime trade, the city also had its own money forge, which testifies to the great wealth of this city.

It took us two attempts to find this amazing area! SO OLD, and the History! Very glad we saw this!


By 229 BC, Risan was the capital of Illyrian Queen Teuta. Teuta was a beautiful but dangerous Pirate Queen. The most famous saying about Teuta was; “Teuta had divine beauty, she was wiser than a serpent and braver than a lion. She had a man’s heart in her woman’s chest. “

After the death of her husband Agron, Teuta inherited the throne. She built a castle on Gradina Mountain above Risan, the remains of which can still be seen today.
Teuta lost her throne in the battle with the Romans, who were invited by the Greeks because they could not overpower the powerful queen on their own. According to legend, the wise queen, who did not want to surrender to the Romans alive, committed suicide by jumping into the sea from a cliff above Risan. Teuta’s last words were: “I would rather die than put myself into the hands of Roman commanders.”


Legend also has it, that before committing suicide, Teuta hid all Illyrian riches deep in the bowels of the hill near Risan, with the help of her subjects.  Archaeologists are still looking for this treasure even today. During one of these “treasure hunts,” they discovered an underground lake in Risan, which is connected to the city by canals. They also discovered Illyrian coins, precisely 4650 King Balajosa’s metal coins, a gold ring and the remains of Hellenistic houses.
Today, in the underwater, in front of Risan, there is a large number of Amphoras (Amphora is a symbol of the city of Risan), which Illyrians used to transport oil from Ulcinj to Kotor and beyond. Amphoras are protected by law in Montenegro. Some of them can be seen in museums all over Montenegro, but it is certainly not allowed to move Amphoras from the sea, it is punishable by law. Also, in Risan, it is possible to see the remains of the Old Risan which “sank,” as well as old houses and remains of a sailing ship.

Risan had the greatest economic growth during the Roman times. Today it is possible to visit Roman mosaics from the 2nd century BC. The most famous of all is a mosaic with the image of the dream god Hypnos.
Risan was under the rule of the Venetian Republic for a very short time, which is why the architecture of this city is completely different from the architecture of the cities of Kotor and Perast.
In the Middle Ages, Risan was an integral part of Travunia. In 1376, Risan belonged to the Duke of Zeta, George Balasic, while in 1491 it fell under the rule of Dubrovnik.  At the end of 1593, the city was surrendered without resistance to the Ottomans. Therefore, even today there is an old Turkish street in Risan, and there used to be several mosques as well. During Napoleon wars, Risan frequently changed rulers, alternating between Austria, Spain, Russia and Austria-Hungary.


It is assumed that in Risan there is a city below the city, and the most famous archeological site is called “Carine.”
Walking on these cobblestones was like stepping back in time!

PRCANJ

Located in the Bay of Kotor, the small town of Prčanj is famous for its enviable location and spectacular views, but this historic town also offers the perfect opportunity to delve a little into Montenegro’s mythical past. Prčanj’s cobbled streets, flanked by 17th and 18th century buildings, lead you through a town steeped in history, with stone villas, gardens and olive orchards dominating the waterfront.

Prcanj is located in the Boka Bay of Kotor, which is considered to be a natural pearl of Montenegro. The town is located right at the foot of the Vrmac mountain range.

Before the fall of the Roman Empire, the small village of Perzagno was populated by Dalmatian Italians and was closely related tho to the nearby Cattaro (now called Kotor). While under the rule of the Venetian Republic, Prčanj (then called Perzagno) gained its fame in a rather unique way.
By the end of the sixteenth century the administration noticed that sailors from Prčanj journeyed to Venice faster than the government ships. It was then decided that Prčanj be given the responsibility of permanent mail service for the Republic. This was further purported by a decree from 1625 that lauds Perzagno inhabitants
for conscientious and effective handling of State mail. The decree was of tremendous significance for the town as it freed its denizens from manual labor; a mandatory form of state service at that time. The decree officially made Prčanj a naval town, and its duties to the State were henceforth of maritime nature only. The importance of reliable mail service was of tremendous value to the Venetian Republic.
Prčanj became a port from where the mail from Istanbul that arrived over land through Montenegro continued seaborne towards Venice.

Perzagno ships were initially small in size and held a crew of nine. The ships were ready to sail year around and would negotiate the 400 mile journey to Venice by oar and sail. The town’s privileges grew and, in 1704, Perzagno was granted its own municipal district inside the Albania Veneta. When the Boka Kotorska was part of the Austrian empire, Emperor Franz Josef came here and was greeted by several dozens of uniformed ship captains.
Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and also called Church Bogorodicin Bram. is perhaps the most impressive landmark in Prčanj. The construction of the church began in the late 18th century and took more than 120 years. It was financed by the residents of Prčanj, who dreamed about big and beautiful shrine.
The most beautiful monastic complex on the upper medieval path of Prcanj is this Old Parish Church. Today, the major part is under the ruins, having suffered great devastation in the last earthquake in 1979. The church ensemble consists of an old cemetery, a unique octagonal dome, and the church together with the residence of the parish palace, which is now completely under the ruins. For the first time, this church is mentioned in documents 1399 as (Ecclesia Sctae Mariae de Parzana). It was reconstructed in 1672 then, in 1740 an octagonal chapel with a dome was built.
 
On the night of December 5, 1703, a miraculous vision occurred in this church, as evidenced by the process in the records of the Kotor bishop Marin Drago “vol. 2.” In 1806, Papa Pio VII issued the Breve, by which the Old Parish church in a question of absolution was joined and levelled of the same importance as the church of St. Maria Maggiore in Rome. Afterwards, the Pope Pius X transferred this important privilege to the New Parish church of Prcanj. In the past, as recorded at the holy feast of the Birth of Mary in the XIX century, this church was visited by up to 6000 people in a day. For a long time, residents were buried in the church cemetery, and most of them were captains with great merits at the sea, ship-owners and priests. The church ensemble was guarded by armed men during the conquest. After the New parish church was built in 1909, the Old Parish church moved all the precious things, relics, furniture and ions to the New Parish temple and the upper church in the hill has lost its religious significance.
​Today, church fascinates by its architectural composition and exceptional integration with the natural environment. The large octagonal dome and the church tower are still standing almost intact even today, despite the suffering of a devastating earthquake in 1979. However, the church nave was completely destroyed, and only four walls are still standing but badly damaged. Despite this, the church still seems to be untouched and rare adventurers come to visit this masterpiece of architecture in the hill above Prcanj.
​The original plan included bell towers, but the town was short of money. So, a simple traditional belfry was erected in the back of the church.
A wide staircase leads to the doors. Gracious sculptures, including figure of Christ, adorn the entrance.
The staircase takes visitors to a spacious terrace with an eye-catching balustrade, More sculptures on the terrace, busts of famous historical figures.
A block away from the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you can see another Catholic church.
This Church consecrated in honor of St. Nicholas, and was built in 1728-1735 on the site of an older house.
The church is designed in the Baroque style. Nice rose-shaped window embellishes the facade. This is a UNESCO Heritage site.
The structure was seriously damaged in a horrific 1979 earthquake, but was restored in 2005-2011.
Beautiful views from the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Architecture in Prčanj bears witness to its prosperity in the 17th and 18th centuries. The town’s waterfront consists of a long line of stone villas, unified by their beautiful facades and separated by gardens and olive orchards. 
In the past, Prcanj was one of the most prosperous coastal cities in the country. Here were born the famous Montenegrin captains, sailors and painters.
Almost all the houses located on the first coast line of Prcanj were built in the 14th century. Thanks to them, the charming atmosphere of the Middle Ages remained in the town.
Still trying to figure out the name of this church
One of Prčanj’s better known highlights is the Tre Sorelle Palace, which translates to the Palace of the Three Sisters. Dating back to the 15th century, this well-known mansion was built and owned by the aristocratic Buca family.

Legend has it that the three sisters that lived here fell in love with the same sailor. When he went to sea, they stood at their windows waiting for him return. As the story goes, the years went by and the sisters still waited for their sailor who never returned. As the sisters passed away one by one, their windows were boarded up; all except for the last sister, who had nobody to board up her window, and so it remains unsealed to this day.
Honorable Mention goes to:
Lastva gabaljska. While looking for Lastva or Lastva Gornja. (near Stoliv) We got a great view for our efforts, though we never did find Lastva

After our big day, we ended in Herceg Novi, where we found a nice hotel, near the water, and enough choices in rooms, to get our budget price, with free parking.

We are in desperate need of getting laundry done, getting caught up with our writing, plus rest from the go-go-go of the last several weeks. We are staying for two nights. More nights would be great, but we can’t justify that when paying for a rental car. We will rest up, at another place in the future. We have so much to see and do, in Europe, while we have good weather!

Vila Margot. We recommend!

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