Talking about the holy places of Montenegro, it is impossible not to mention the Orthodox monastery with a rich history, which is completely covered with secrets and legends and which, unfortunately, many tourists do not know. The name of this monastery is Praskvica. It is considered a representative representative of the Orthodox architecture of the Balkan Peninsula and is the most famous monastic complex in the Pashtrovichi area of the Budva municipality. The monastery is located in a picturesque olive grove on the hill in the former fishing village of Chelobrdo, on the outskirts of Milocer, near Przno and the popular island of Sveti Stefan.
In Montenegro, monasteries are better known by their names, usually associated with peculiarities of location (Cetinsky, Piva, Podmaina, Rezevici, etc.). The monastery of Praskvica has its own name due to an interesting natural phenomenon - a small streamlet flowing in the vicinity of it, in which flows the water smelling of peaches. And in the springtime, when streams begin to flow down from the mountains, the air in these parts is filled with the aroma of peach trees. This is what gave the name of the monastic monastery, as in the local dialect "praske" means "peach".
As the locals say: "Drink water from this stream, and in the mouth there is an unforgettable feeling, as if you were eating a peach."The history of the Monastery of Praskvica.
According to an old legend, the monastery of Praskvica was founded in the distant 1050, when the Old Slavic state of Zeta, located on these lands, was headed by Stefan Vojislav. According to some sources, the monastery existed in 1307, when the Serbian King Milutin visited Kotor. In documented written sources, the monastery of Praskvits was first mentioned a little later, in 1413, when the ruler of the Zeta (the ancient name of Montenegro), Balsa III Stanimirovich Balshich with his mother Helen, daughter of King Lazar and Queen Milica, gave Budva the letter of the foundation of the monastery Praskvice, in which the construction of the church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker is mentioned.
Until now, the original image of the church, unfortunately, was not preserved, since in 1812 the French troops plundered the monastery and destroyed the church. At the same time, valuable archival documents disappeared without a trace, which could provide a number of significant data on the life of the monastery in the period up to the 15th century. Approximately in 1844, the construction of the present church of St. Nicholas was started and completed in 1847 in a new guise. From the former building, only the foundation and part of the walls were preserved, and during the design, fragments of the fresco painting of the 15th century from the old church were used. The main painting of the new church was made by the famous Greek icon painter from the island of Corfu Nicola Aspioti in 1863, and his magnificent fence of the iconostasis still decorates the interior of the new church.
Significant assistance to Montenegrin Monastery Praskvitsa in due time was rendered also by Russian sovereigns, since Catherine II and finishing Alexander I. They donated not only money, but also various valuable subjects, and in the monastic storages to this day there are accompanying charters from the Russian Imperial Court.
The monastery of Praskvica for a long time was not only a spiritual but also a secular center of the Montenegrin tribe of Pashtrovics. The buildings of the monastery were used for holding court hearings and making important decisions. Councils of elders passed behind a large stone table, which was called "Bankada". Today, any visitor to the monastery can sit at this table.
In 1979, during the strongest earthquake, the monastery complex was seriously damaged. By now, most of the buildings have been restored, but some of them are still under reconstruction. Nevertheless, the Monastery of Praskvica today is the operating monastery of the Montenegrin-Primorsky Metropolia of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The monastery complex includes two churches - a large St. Nicholas and a smaller Holy Trinity, old and new cells, a guest house and a turret, which used to be a school where monks taught children to read and write. The Holy Trinity Church dates back to the 17th century. Fresco painting in it was done by the artist Radul, and the gilded iconostasis was made by master Dmitry Daskal.
The old cells of the monastery are located north of the church of St. Nicholas. They contain the most valuable monastery library, whose foundation is about 5000 books. Here, in the ancient cells, there is also an amazing museum of the monastery with a treasure trove, which contains an unusually valuable collection of art items, a rich collection of icons, ancient weapons, various objects of church use, hand-written books and documents from the Pashtrovich era, of which the following are distinguished: and the Mines of 1717, the handwritten Gospel of the 16th century, as well as hard copies of the Gospel and 18th-century church books. Among the important documents there are several letters of Bishops Sava and Vasily Petrovich, one letter of Vladika Danila and three letters of the Russian royal court: two letters of the Russian tsarina Catherine the Great 1783 and 1798 and the letter of the Russian tsar Paul I of 1798.
Among other things, the museum should always pay attention to the old monastic seal with the inscription "Si pecat manastira Praskvice" (Russkiy "this is the seal of the Monastery of Praskvice"), as well as the cup of the Russian Emperor Paul and the handwritten Gospel that Russian Tsar Paul I presented to the monastery in 1798. The pearl of the treasure is the golden cross, which, presumably, belonged to King Dusan. This cross from the Monastery of High Decani to Praskvitza was moved by Archimandrite Danilo Kazhanegra.
The museum of the monastery of Praskvitsa contains a magnificent collection of icons, important examples of the artistic value of which are some parts of the iconostasis from the old Balshina church, part of the iconostasis, which until recently was located in the upper church of the Holy Trinity, and the icon of the Virgin and Christ of the Italo-Cretan school of the 17th century, which shines with unearthly beauty.
The monastery parish also includes several churches located in the nearest district outside the monastery walls - the Church of St. Stephen, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord and the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky.
From the coast to the mountain, on which the Praskvica Monastery is located, leads the ancient stone staircase allegedly built by the Russian monk Yegor Stroganov as a sign of obedience. Only here not everyone will risk to pass on it - very much it is abrupt! One very interesting legend tells about the appearance of this road.
In the 18th century, there lived a man named Yegor Stroganov, who had a family and a beloved daughter, but a misfortune occurred - the girl was seduced by a giddy handsome hussar. Learning about this, the unfortunate father could not bear the insult and killed the youth in a duel, but he himself suffered while losing his hand. The daughter could not forgive her father and fled the house, and Stroganov himself left the country, decided to take monastic vows and took a vow of silence within the walls of Montenegrin monastery. Here he prayed for the fate of his unfortunate daughter, and, atonement for sins, and also for the benefit of other people, began to build a road leading from the sea to the most beautiful observation point on the south coast. Every morning the hermit with prayer, a piece of bread and a jug of water made his way through the stones, building a stone path. For ten years Yegor built his way, without saying a word. When the aged Stroganov found it difficult to cope with his duties, he had a volunteer assistant - a new novice who cared about him. In 1908 he laid the last step on the top of the hill Chelobrdo, fell ill and lay down. Soon, on his deathbed, the monk learned that the novice was his repentant daughter. Legend has it that the girl was allowed to stay after the death of her father in the monastery, although he was a man, where she spent the rest of her life. After her death, she was buried next to her father at a local cemetery. The road, which Yegor Stroganov built, to this day leads to an ancient monastery.
The name of Yegor Stroganov entered the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the grateful residents of the village Chelobrdo installed a memorial plate on which they engraved: "Yegor Stroganov, a monk from Russia, built the road from the sea to this place for 10 years, at the beginning nineteenth century. "
To get to the monastery is easy enough, either by car or without it. Monastery complex Praskvitsa is located just above the main Balkan route - Yadransky Put. If you move from Budva to the city of Bar, then a few hundred meters to the island of St. Stephen, on the left you can see the car parking and the sign "Praskvica".
Do not pass by ... Monastery Praskvitsa is really a very beautiful and spiritual place, which is definitely worth a visit.