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Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Strange Town Perast



The Bay of Kotor
How often does it happen that you have planned to visit a place and as a bonus, you get to something more than what you had expected? This is what exactly happened this winter when I was travelling in Croatia. I learnt that I could visit Montenegro an adjoining country with the existing Schengen multi-entry visa. So without much ado, while I was in Dubrovnik with my family, we booked for a trip to Montenegro.
The streets of Perast
 It was a cold morning when we reached the pickup point at the Dubrovnik Cable Car station and at the precise time, a station wagon with an elderly driver, a petite guide with three more passengers arrived. After introductions, we handed over our passports to the lady as they would be required at the border entry points. After a short drive, the wagon picked up two more passengers, a Japanese couple. The seating capacity was now full and excited as we were, the vehicle lunged onto the open highway with a breathtaking scenic view. We passed by Cavtat, a small town and continued for almost an hour. The girl who was the guide spoke in fluent English and kept narrating about the places we passed and highlights of the history of the region. The car kept climbing up and down the slopes with orange groves for miles and small rivulets and tiny houses in small villages till we reached, Debeli Brijeg, the border check post to enter Montenegro. It took about 15 minutes at the border post to get the passports stamped.  
Our Lady of the Rock Church
We had been driving for more than an hour and the vehicle veered around. My left was wide open in amazement at the sight of the huge Bay of Kotor that lay ahead of us.  The semicircular bay is surrounded by a drive almost 35 km long with shimmering blue waters. As the car skirted around the coast we could see long stretches of floats protruding out of the water. The driver narrated that there were nets underneath to harvest oysters.
Stretches of Oyster Farming
In the middle of the bay was n island that had a fairy tale setting with Our Lady of the Rock Church located on it. It s imposing structure is visible from a distance. The island can be visited by the boats that regularly ferry the tourists to the island. The island Gospa and Skrjela( Our Lady of the Rocks) is one of the two gorgeous islands in the Bay of Kotor. The other island Sveti Djordje is also called as ‘the island of the Dead Captians’, because according to the legend one French soldier, by shooting cannon towards Perast hit the house of his beloved girl and killed her. That legend was the motive for the masterpiece ’The Island of the Dead’ by Swiss painter Beklin.

The Museum

The island of Our Lady of the Rocks was artificially built by seamen from Perast and Kotor by ferrying stones on their boats and piling them at the site. According to a legend after a shipwreck neat this island the seamen found an Icon of the Holy Mother with a Christ on the sea rock and pledged to build a church on the island. The church was built in 1630 and till to date, the island is maintained.
The Bell Tower

Perast is surely one of the strangest and the prettiest of tiny places in the Bay of Kotor.It is also one of the quietest places in the region. Its narrow streets and baroque style abandoned palaces testify the richness of culture from the times of Reinassance.
A Palace in Perast
Perast was considered to be a town of sailors. There are 16 preserved palaces in Perast , and among them is a Baroque palace called Bujovic, at the entrance of Perast. Other palaces are Bronza, Sestokrilovic, Mazarovic, Pavalovicini, Martinovic, and others. All of them represent 12 brotherhoods(clans) of Perast. 
Smekja Palace

A once lively town with flocks of seamen and boats moored in the bay, today it has a population of about 500 people living there. One can see ladies selling wine made of Pomegranate and handknitted woollen caps and sweaters. During the summers a number of tourists throng the place and the festival of Fasinada takes place when a number of boats carry the stones to the Island of Our Lady of the Rocks.
The interior of St Nicholas Church
Located in the heart of the little town is the Romanesque old  St Nicholas church built in 1616AD. Next to the church is an unfinished church and a bell tower that was built in 1691 AD and was the highest at 55m in the Adriatic region.
The relics inside St Nicholas Church
The church now houses a museum and relics and numerous items donated by Archbishop Zmajevic’s family, who had also donated the bell inside the Bell Tower. The old costumes and relics have been maintained very well.
Another Palace in Perast
Later we strolled on the streets soaking the beauty of the place and admired the lovely picturesque setting. The fun was to continue as the driver greeted us when we returned back with a huge smile and said, ‘All set for Kotor’. We nodded in affirmative so let us continue the journey to Kotor in the next post

PS All pics are mine. Next week will continue the journey in Montenegro to a new destination Kotor

8 comments:

  1. I love visiting these little, charming European towns on your blog. :) The ride in a station wagon with just a few other travellers and a guide must have been a great experience.

    Thank you for the pictures and the travel account. :)

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    1. It is such a pleasure to see your comment Divya, that I try to paint the picture as I saw. The guide and the driver were very good and knew exactly what to tell and show:)
      Will try to take you to some more places in next few posts.

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  2. I had been to Perast recently in Sep 2019, and was totally blown by the beauty of it's majestic mountains and sweeping views. It's certainly one of the beautiful places in Montenegro!

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    1. Thank you Anu for that kind comment. Perast is a beauty and am sure it must have been a memorable trip for you too.

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