Perast is an ancient city in Montenegro, located on the shore of Kotor Bay
of the Adriatic Sea, a few kilometers north-west of Kotor
. Perast lies at the foot of St. Ilya Hill (873 m), on the cape that separates the Risan Bay from the Bay of Kotor (which, in turn, are integral parts of the Bay of Kotor), directly opposite the Verige Strait
, the narrowest part of Boka.
History of the city.
According to the assumptions of archaeologists, the first settlements appeared in the region of Perast in the Neolithic Age; there are also memorials of Illyrian, Roman, and early Christian periods. The city itself was founded by the Illyrians and named in honor of one of the local tribes - pirusts.The first mention of Perast refers to 1336
- at this time it was a small fishing village, which nevertheless has a shipyard, and the pier there always were several trading and fishing vessels. But since the nearby strategically important island of St. George belonged to Kotor, Perast development went very slowly.
Prosperity to the city was brought by the Venetian period, and the special significance of the border town it acquired around 1482 - after the capturing by the Turks the part of the coast from Herceg Novi
. When the small settlement finally became a city, its inhabitants thought about strengthening. The fortress of the Holy Cross and a dozen defensive towers were built. And having distinguished itself in battles, Perast began to enjoy some political and economic privileges, in particular, it got the right to guard the Venetian flag of St. Mark after 1654 withstood the siege of the Turks led by Mehmed-aga Rizvanagich.
Perast also could trade duty-free with the Venetian Republic and received the indulgence of the Venetian authorities for merciless struggle against the pirates that flooded the Adriatic. Thanks to this, the city grew and enriched: only in the XVIII century were built 20 mansions in the baroque style, 17 Catholic and 2 Orthodox churches. And since here was one of the best naval schools, Peter I sent here promising sailors from Russia for training to the outstanding captain Mark Martinovic. When Napoleon defeated the Venetian Republic in 1797, Perast was passed for a few more months, but eventually the city still had to lower the Saint Mark's flag. From this moment, the decline of Perast began: along with the entire territory of Kotor Bay, it passed from the Austrians to the Italians, and from them to the French, and then again fell into the possession of Austria-Hungary and was within until the defeat of it in the First World War. In 1918, the city became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and in 1941 became part of the Italian province of Cattaro. Only in 1944 it gained independence in the SFRY, being one of the administrative regions of the Montenegrin Republic. Since 2006, the city has finally become part of independent Montenegro.
For centuries Perast was forced to strengthen the defense - too many people wanted to capture these territories with a favorable location. But there was no opportunity to build real fortress walls. To defend the city helped defensive system, created in the XV-XVII centuries. And consisting of 10 cardaks (defensive towers), as well as the fortress of the Holy Cross. Chardaks are two-storey buildings of almost square cross-section - they were in different parts of the city and served not only for protection, but for shelter in the case of a long siege. The most ancient of them, the tower of Markovic, or Martinovic, the inhabitants erected it in the beginning of the XVI century. In the square of St. Nicholas in the beginning of the XVI century. The fortress of the Holy Cross was built in 1570 next to the church of the same name of the 9th c. Their name is due to the fact that the cross was depicted both on the Venetian flag of St. Mark, and on the medieval Serbian flag, and it was also the family coat of many noble families of Perast. The defensive system of the city was supplemented by similar structures on the island of St. George and Verige Strait, opposite to which the city is located, it was blocked for the night by chains in order to avoid the sudden attack of enemy ships.
Once in the city lived 12 noble families, and they erected the very Baroque mansions and churches, which Perast is proud for to this day. The oldest of them is the Viskovic mansion. The most beautiful architectural masterpieces of Perast is the Bujović mansion, built on the money of the Venetian Republic, designed by the Venetian architect Giovanni Baptiste Fontana. In the mansion there is a museum of the city of Perast
, which presents a collection of nautical charts, models of ships, portraits of outstanding navigators, weapons and archival documents. The main exposition of the museum is made up of donations from the heirs of the famous families of Perast. Here you can see the portraits of the famous seamen of Perast and a collection of weapons. Inside the museum the original of the decree of Peter I is presented, in which he ordered to send Russian sailors to Perast for training in naval affairs.
The largest of all mansions is the mansion of Smekija, which was rebuilt for several centuries. Of particular interest to tourists is the mansion Zmaevich, also called the Episcopal Palace, built in 1664. It is inscribed in a rocky landscape and decorated with the family coat of arms. Until now, many other mansions have been preserved in Perast, for example, the mansions of the families Balovich, Braikovich-Martinovich, Bronza, Vukashovich and others. Many of them are located on the main street of the city, along the sea.Lifehack: to enjoy Perast fully, it is better to arrive there early in the morning, before the influx of people.
As in other cities of Boka, Perast has many churches. The main temple of the city is the church of St. Nicholas, built in 1616.
The modest facade hides the majestic interior decoration, consisting of a wooden ceiling and marble carved altars in the Baroque style, painted by artist Tripo Kokolj. In the neighborhood of the Church of St. Nicholas stands the 55-meter bell tower (1691), which is still decorated with bells, delivered from Venice in 1730. The bell tower, which offers a magnificent panoramic view of the bay, is open for tourists from May to October (entrance fee is 2 €). You easily recognize the Church of St. Nicholas in the three busts that adorn the St. Nicholas Square: Marco Martinovic, Mati Zmajevic and Tripoli Kokolj.
No less famous is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, built in 1678 by the order of Archbishop Andrij Zmajevich and adjacent to the Episcopal Palace. In Perast there are the churches of St. Anne, the Franciscan Saint Anthony, St. John the Baptist, St. Mark, the Orthodox Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a few very small. All of them were built in the period of 1595 - 1760 years.
What to see in the vicinity of the city?
Opposite Perast there are two stunning islands - the natural one of St. George
and the man-made island Gospa od Škrpjela. On the island of St. George
there is an old cemetery and a Benedictine monastery, the mention of which is found for the first time in 1166, relating to Kotor. But, unfortunately, you cannot visit this island on ordinary tourist boats, but by renting a private one. In this case, you cannot enter the monastery, its doors are open only to the inhabitants of Perast.
The Italian name of the island of Madonna dello Scarpello translates as "Madonna on a reef" or "Mother of God on a rock". This island is man-made and was built in 1452 after it was said that two sailors of Perast discovered on the reef an icon of the Mother of God, which cured one of them from the disease. After that, a church was built in honor of Our Lady in Byzantine style, reaching 11 meters high.
The creation of this man-made island was also of practical importance, for almost 200 years, enemy pirate and old ships were flooded here, after which a law was passed that every ship passing by a reef should throw a stone on the bottom. Thus, an area of about 3030 m2 was created.Lifehack: if you intend to get to the island on your own, you can do it on a water taxi from Perast. The fare is 5 € per person. The travel time will take only a couple of minutes, but you will have time to make amazingly beautiful photos.
Every year in Perast there is a festive action called Fashinada. On July 22, all Perast residents sail out on boats to the island in the amount of 50 units and throw stones from the surrounding mountains around the island to mark the history of the island origin.Lifehack: in the vicinity of Perast there are several farms for the cultivation of oysters and mussels. But the owners of such farms are on site only in the mornings. Sometimes the hosts indicate the phone number on the signboard. To the owner to come you need to call.
How to get to the city?
To better experience the atmosphere, it makes sense to come to these cities on your own or on a bus
. Distance Budva-Perast is 37 km, travel time 50 min.Lifehack: The cost of travel to Perast from Budva by bus is 5 € one way. There is no direct bus from Budva to Perast, but you can reach by the passing one. Any bus coming from Budva or Kotor to Herceg Novi or Igalo by a roundabout route, and not through a ferry crossing, will do. In the bus schedule you need to choose the trip that travels much longer. This is a sign that the bus will go round the road along the bay, and not through Tivat and the ferry. The driver should be asked to stop at Perast.
If you go from Budva by car
, then you should move north along the Jadran road to Kotor and further along the bay along the picturesque road.
To Perast you can come for one day to look at the surrounding beauty with your own eyes, or you can stay in a small hotel
and enjoy local comfort and tranquility for a longer time. The traffic in the city is limited - almost all the streets are pedestrian, they are very pleasant to walk around during the day, and in the evening to sit in numerous cafes and restaurants, glancing at the sinking into night bay. For lovers of sunbathing and swimming a small stretch of the coastline is equipped with a city beach
. The tiny city of Perast, which has stuck to the mountains, has literally grown into rocks, of course, cannot offer a large number of hotels, but in the vicinity of Perast you can find accommodation that will satisfy the most demanding taste. Like throughout Montenegro, it can be modern hotels, villas by the sea, more or less modest apartments. On the embankment there are several restaurants
offering a wide and pleasant menu. The cuisine is mostly Mediterranean, full of seafood. Civilization here is not an empty word: most restaurants accept plastic cards, some have Wi-Fi.
Now Perast is a cute little town that attracts tourists with its sights. What is important, it is very quiet, without much entertainment. This city is worth choosing, as a residence, if you want to enjoy solitude or communication with a partner. In the summer, the embankment is not allowed to drive by cars and guests can safely stroll along it and enjoy the views in the coastal restaurants.