Perast

The city of Perast is a treasure trove of valuable works of Boka’s cultural, historical and artistic heritage.

The city of Perast is a treasure trove of valuable works of Boka’s cultural, historical and artistic heritage. It is a peaceful and quiet petit city, the quietest city of Boka bay today. And back in the older times? It was the famous and glorious city, strong and powerful. It used to be the city of shipwrights, stonemasons, brick makers and coopers. It used to have a blooming time of maritime and fishing, where a lavish lifestyle of Montenegro took place.

Even today, people are speaking about the richness of this region, which confirms fascinating heritage of seafaring Montenegro – from Venetian seamen’s palaces and tales of Ottoman-era piracy to summer festivals celebrating the locals’ relationship with the sea. Palaces of Perast are now silent witnesses of the former size, splendor and wealth of the city. The entire past of Perast is reflecting on them lively.

Perast received its final, urban architectural appearance during the XVII and XVIII century. Painted with patina of the past, by pride and dignity, tranquility and simplicity, it undoubtedly excels over many cities of the Adriatic. Today Perast is one of the most beautiful examples of Baroque architecture on the Adriatic coast, even though the original townscape values of the city were deeply hurt during the long economic agony. Perast is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Natural and Cultural-Historical Region of Kotor. During the history, 17 Catholic churches, 16 baroque palaces, 9 defensive towers and 2 Orthodox churches were all built in a city of just 1643 residents at its peak population. The population now is down to just 360 at last count (that’s around 19 people per church).

While walking around the city, the sparkles that you can find in Perast’s sea eyes can warm up your soul. Those are two main islands that are probably the most powerful carriers of the identity of this city.

The name of one of those oases is Island of Saint George. Although it is very difficult to measure precisely, the legend said that this island is rooted exactly in the geographical center of one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

By the legend, unlike other islands on earth, we know the day of the week when Island St. George was born, but we don't know the year, century and millennium when that happened.  Stone walls of Benedict monastery from the 12th Century and slender cypresses that are looking like a black painted masts of sailing ships, below which old people from Perast are forever asleep, in calm and melancholy that are wrapping this island, they are evoking suspicion about the secrets this island is hiding.

While looking at the island, hidden from human life and voices of the living, you can feel the wind of legends; the spirit of centuries, and this cold amazement can interrupt only your own, light movement of sighs.

This island is also known as “the Island of the dead captain” where the story about the Perasts’ Romeo and Juliet begins.

Unlike the neighboring island “Our Lady of Rocks”, the island St. George do not let curious eyes disrupt kind an eerie piece of this island, so visitation is not open for tourists.

The story behind the other island, Our Lady of Rocks, is also very interesting. In 1452, two brothers were rowing in the bay when, on a rock jutting out of the bay they miraculously found a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Finding this painting was immediately seen as a miracle and it was a clear sign that at this point people should build the artificial island and upon it a church of gratitude for the Lady and her help in sailors’ safe return home.

Today this place is rich with treasure of various items of inestimable value from all over the world, such as pottery, porcelain, gold and silver. What’s common for all these things is that they are gifts of gratitude from the people to Our Lady of Rocks, because she kept them safe on the long, sometimes dangerous journeys. So each of these gifts has it’s own story about human fate.

One of the most interesting gifts to the Lady is tapestry embroidered by a woman that was waiting for more than 25 years for her sailor to come back from a long journey. The tapestry is embroidered with golden and silver fibers on tough Chinese silk, but what makes this tapestry so famous is the fact that she also embroidered her own hair in it. It has seven hundred stitches per square centimeter and it represents a symbol of the incredible love and patience.

Every year, on 22nd of July, this island inbreathes the joy of its traditional Fashinada, when people from Boka celebrate the start of construction of this island. At the end of the day, young men gather around the island in their boats, from where they are throwing big, white stones in the sea, to cover the Lady with gown, so she cannot sink.

Museum of Perast is looking at these two islands, located on the place of the former luxurious palace of Perast’s captain Vicko Bujović. Evil beauty of this palace is warning even today, with it’s own weird and unusual legend. If you are traveling alone you won’t be lonely because every stone of this city tells its own story.

Perast is wonderful place to visit throughout the year. In winter it is protected from the north wind, facing the sun and the sea, while summer heat is diluted by a pleasant breeze. In particular, it is known that residents in Perast are practicing a tradition that each month during the year they eat certain types of fish and shellfish, which should be eaten only when there is no letter R in the name of the months (May, June, July, August), because then the meat is the juiciest.

This city is particularly fascinating with its sleeping beauty. It is alluring you to absorb its sunsets; fishermen boats intersecting the livid, blue sea; to enjoy peace and azure poems, silence, songs of the sea and seagulls; sparkling waves who sing their song of frenzied attack on the blue rocks.