Bathed in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea looking at the ancient Perast on the Kotor Bay coastline, this man made islet is veiled in myths and legends. Legend has it that sailors from Perast found a picture of the Virgin Mary on a rock protruding from the sea and taking it as a good sign, began laying rocks on this same spot after every successful voyage so that a church could be built on top of the rocks.
The islet was man made by scuttling old ships and depositing stones around a small crag. The original church was built in the mid-15th Century, later restructured and enlarged as over the centuries the islet was reinforced by both deposits of stones and scuttled sailing ships to provide a bigger and more stable base. Most of the present-day church was erected after the 1667 earthquake that destroyed the original sanctuary, while a domed presbytery and a bell tower were added around 1725. These two structures gave the Our Lady of the Rock a distinctive baroque appearance that can still be seen today. Because the church was so important to the area, the interior was richly decorated with many art gifts through time. Among others, works of the 17th century Montenegro painter Tripo Kokolja enrich the interior as well as the 15th century icon of Our Lady of the Rocks, which can be seen on the altar.
A unique tradition can be observed in Perast each year since 1452 – each July 22nd history comes alive with the Fasinada festivities. This ancient tradition sees a string of boats decorated with flowers and full of rocks sail from Perast to Our Lady of the Rocks. Upon arrival they toss the rocks into the waters just off the shore of the island and then take part in the mass given in the church to give thanks before returning to the mainland for music, dancing and celebration.
The Balkan Peninsula still remains a secret to many travelers, yet its myriad of stunning locations; historic towns, mysterious forts and local traditions call for more attention. This tour showcases some of the most beautiful part of the Balkans with highlights of four countries, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania.Find out more