Religious village on a tiny Island - Wow!

Sveti Stefan Travel Blog

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Not every day can be sunny so, I awakened to a gray day. It was overcast and threatening rain. It was however, warm. So, I did wear shorts, not all bad.

I headed south along the coast stopping first for some of the amazing views from areas near Rafailovici. I could see all the way to Sveti Stefan. The clouds and foggy appearance gave it a mystical quality.

I stopped near to Sveti Stefan, at Praskvica Monastery. The monastery is located on the hill above Milocer and Sveti Stefan. It was named after the nearby spring, whose water smelled of peaches, called ”praska” by the native people.

The monastery was both the spiritual and political centre of Pastrovici and its founding and tradition is linked to the 11th century. The main monastery’s church of St. Nicholas dates from the 15th century, and the charter of Balsa III, ruler of Zeta, bears witness to it. A more spacious building was built in the 19th century on its remains, and has preserved the fresco paintings of the old church.

The second monastery’s church is located on the hill, and it is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and dates from the 17th century. Its biggest artistic value lies in the fresco paintings, painted by the master Radul, and the gold-plated iconostasis of Dimitrije Daskal from the 17th century. The monastery complex also consists of lodgings and a former school in which monks educated the Pastrovci children in writing.

The churches have exceptional features: icons, old manuscripts and documents. A hand-written Gospel in a silver cover, which was according to tradition given to the Pastrovici family by the Montenegrin Bishop Danilo in 1600, is kept there.

There was a tiny road, with trees blocking much of the one lane that led to Praskvica. The land in front was being grazed by sheep and there even were a few lambs playing and being quite vocal. There were rows of grapevines behind. I guess most monasteries in Europe make a little vino.

The church was in typical three-bell Montenegrin design. As I got out of my car and approached, I could see that the front doors were open. I assumed this was my invitation. Upon entering, the iconostasis demands attention. It is intricately carved and delicately painted. This little church is loved. To the left there is an alcove with faded frescos that filled it and even overflowed to the walls of the main hall.

I walked into the alcove to see what condition they were in. Even in rough condition, they have great fantastic detail.

Back outside, I walked stairs to several terraced levels revealing viewing areas, living quarters, and another church with cemetery at the upper level. This level had quite a view of Sveti Stefan. From the cemetery, the mountains were the grand backdrop.

I moved on to an overlook that provided a panoramic view of the island that is Sveti Stefan. It is a picturesque, small town surrounded by the sea. In the Middle Ages it used to be a trade and political centre of Paštrović. It is built on a small island near the mainland. Establishment of this settlement was first mentioned in written documents in the 15th century, when twelve houses were built that belonged to the Paštrović brotherhood.

In time it became a town where the sessions of the People’s Court were held. The court was called the “bankada”. During wars, people unable to fight in battles hid there. Today it is a hotel-town, connected to the land by an artificial causeway

It looks to be an idyllic Italianesque village set atop a tiny island. It is currently off limits as it has been under renovation for several years.

At the time, I tried to get down to see it, up close but, was unable to due to road construction that was preventing descent. Later, when traveling north again, I went down to confirm that visitation was impossible.

Looking at the community, who wouldn’t want to be a resident? Where do I sign up?

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Sveti Stefan
photo by: benwielenga