Opposite the narrow Verige strait, at the foot of the hill of St. Elijah and at the place where the Bay of Kotor and Risan separate, you must see and experience the town of Perast. As far as is known, it is the oldest human habitat on the shores of the Bay of Kotor. Remains of Neolithic culture (3500 BC), as well as numerous archaeological finds, testify to a continuous settlement from Illyrian, Roman and early Christian times to the present day.
Perast, we observe through a unique whole of the city, islands and sea. These elements are united in both the physical and the spiritual dimension of the city. The UNESCO-protected town with its impeccably preserved Venetian Gothic waterfront buildings has a magnificent past. Iconic postcard images of Perast and the two famous nearby isles of Our Lady of the Rocks and St George are amongst the best know tourism images of Montenegro.
The artificial island of Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Škrpjela) was created by throwing stones and sinking ships on an underwater rock. The people of Perast chose this place to build a church on it because sailors saw an icon with the image of Mary, mother of Jesus on July 22, 1452. Every year on this date a memorial is held and sails to the island on boats where new stones are thrown from ritual and for practical reasons, to compensate for the stones carried away by sea. The church was built in 1630, and it was painted by the famous Baroque painter Tripo Kokolja from Perast. In addition to his frescoes, the church is adorned with 2,000 silver plaques donated by sailors as a token of gratitude that God kept them on their voyages.
Another island not far from Our Lady is called Saint George (Sveti Đorđe). There is also a church on this island. Originally, there was a city cemetery, which was moved to the northern part of the city in 1866, as well as a church from the 12th century, destroyed during the earthquake in 1667. Today, there is a new church built on the site of the old one. Throughout history, this island has had a military defense function, because it is located in the heart of Boka and near the narrowest part of the bay - Verige, so it protected Perast and Risan from external attacks from the sea.
Perast prospered in the Venetian period when its defensive towers and the Fortress of St. Cross were built above the town. The city grew to include over 20 baroque palazzi (palaces), 18 churches, and an important maritime school. This explains why the village has a distinctly Venetian feel to it even today, and an unusually high concentration of churches for what is now a much smaller village than it used to be.
What to do:
- Exploring the narrow streets and alleyways that stretch back from the water.
- St Nicholas' church dominates the central town square. It is a Catholic church with a 55-meter-high bell tower. The entrance fee for the tower is 1 Euro and the views from the top overlooking the bay and towards the two islands are magnificent.
- A visit to the Nautical Museum will bring you closer to the history and culture of the place. The museum itself is located in a beautiful, well-preserved old house by the bay with a marvelous view of the sea.
- Visiting the church and museum located on Our Lady of the Rocks.
Where to eat:
- Restaurant Conte- with authentically Boka interior, stone and wood offering traditional meals and has access from the sea with the possibility of berthing (buoys and moorings) in front of restaurant terrace for smaller yachts but for bigger yachts and sailboats the restaurant has a tender (10 seats) to offer your guests free transfer from the anchorage.
- Ćatovića Mlini- about 5 nautical miles from Perast, with our assistance, restaurant tender is at your disposal to pick up guests from your yacht directly from anchorage in Morinj to the restaurant.
Fun facts about Perast:
- At its peak, in the middle of the 18th century, the Perast fleet consisted of about 100 larger ships. At that time, Perast was the main maritime city in the Bay of Kotor, celebrated on all seas. Perast ships sailed all over the Mediterranean, entering the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to England and the Netherlands.
- On one occasion, a "rumor" reached Perast about a large number of pirates coming to plunder the city. The captains of Perast came up with a plan for the defense. In the narrowest place, they make an obstacle from chains (chains), from one side of the shore to the other. Chains were gathered around Perast and the surrounding places, from which a long defensive chain was made. Perast and the rest of Boka were defended. And so, the narrow passage in front of Perast was named Chains. People from Perast and the rest of Boka, chains and padlocks are not associated with slavery, but with great freedom.
- Keeping the war flag called "Serenissima", for the full 377 years that the Venetian Republic ruled in this area, eight of its guards gave their lives, defending it! After the fall of the Veneto Republic, after Napoleon conquered Perast and Boka, the war flag was buried with a ceremony in Perast. To date, it has not been found.
The last of the three guards who buried the flag in secret, when asked to say where it was buried, answered - that the dead should not be disturbed.
Info for captains: The main docks in Perast are located under the church bell tower. These docks, just like the two smaller docks to the west and east of this one, are full of boats, most of them transporting passengers to Our Lady of the Rocks (there is a small dock on the island too). In the summer, you can only find a place to berth on the ‘main’ dock in the evening, when those boats stop sailing to the island. During bura winds, anchor closer to the eastern end of the town, and in sirocco, anchor at the beginning of the Bay of Risan.
Today, Perast is an extremely peaceful town, and the turbulent life, wealth and glory of Perast and the people of Perast are history. However, with its beauty, Perast attracts modern sailors, travelers, artists, dreamers, eager for beauty and peace.