A Boat Trip from Perast to the Island – Our Lady of the Rocks
What’s all the fuss?
One of the most popular and enjoyable half day trips in Montenegro is the trip to the historic coastal town of Perast. It is here that they come by the busloads to clamour aboard boats that take you out onto the bay to the famous Our Lady of the Rocks.
So what is a “Lady of the Rock” and why the intrigue? Well its an interesting story and it goes something like this:
The Legend of the Island –
The legend has it that on one lazy summers day in the 1400’s, a couple of local fisherman were just minding their own business when to their surprise they come across an icon of the Madonna and child on a rock off the coast of Perast.
Of course word spread and the site became a religious hot spot.
To commemorate the occasion, they vowed to drop a few rocks in that exact location every time they sailed past. Over time the tradition continued and voila, today we have the Lady of the Rocks Island built upon those very rocks.
An Island emerges from the rocks –
Once the rocks starting protruding the water’s surface they decided to make an island and subsequently built the church which was steadily expanded (and destroyed) and in 1630 the church you see today was imagined.
Italian sculptors were brought in to build the altar on which the icon of the Our Lady of Skrpjel stands and commands attention from visitors today.
The Church and Museum –
Apart from the stunning interior of the church with its beautiful wall to wall canvas paintings featuring the life of Mary, visitors are herded through backrooms containing a fascinating large collection of archaeological exhibits extracted from all over the bay and includes a number of items from people’s everyday life. In peak season it gets quite crowded within the church but try to take your time and take in the beauty and nostalgia of the church and museum.
One of the most famous exhibits hides a fascinating but sad tale. It’s a beautifully made tapestry of the Holy Virgin by local woman Jacinta Kunic-Mijovic. She made it painstakingly over 25 years waiting for her husband to come back from sea but alas he never returned and she went blind over time. The unique part of the tapestry is that she used her own hair in her work and you can see the subtle changes in hair colour over time.
St Georges Island –
Nearby under the shadow of cypress tress is the other island is St George which is also nicknamed the “Island of the Dead”. Here resides a Benedictine abbey and a cemetery.
During the French occupation around 1813, a small garrison was placed on the island and it is said that one of the officers fell in love with a local girl from Perast. Unfortunately, during cannon fight her house in Perast was hit killing her inside. The heartbroken officer vowed to spend the rest of his life on this island and kept a candle lit. One day the people of Perast noticed the light had gone out. He had died and requested to be buried beside his beloved.
A Roman pontiff also declared the island cursed due to a bishop who died (murdered?) here. You cannot visit this island (one reason is the underground power cables that connect the islands) but you see it when approaching Our Lady.
Visiting Our Lady of the Rocks –
During peak season the island is inundated with tourists and tour buses cram into the small access road leading to the waterfront. How they manage to manoeuvre the coaches into the tight parking spots is fascinating to watch!
Once on the waterfront there You will find a ticket booth and a myriad of small boats waiting to take people over to the island. They shuttle back and forth gleefully all day.
There are speedboat tours departing from Kotor which takes you the Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks within 2 hours. There are multiple departure times during the day.
You usually need about 30 minutes to admire the church and museum but take your time to view the exhibits properly and then take some inspiring photos. If you miss your boat then take the next one. Tour groups are usually given 20-30 minutes to explore the island.
The Church of Our Lady of the Rocks is open between 09:00am and 04:00pm in winter and until 06:00 or 07:00pm in summer.
The boat ride –
On the clear waters of Boka Bay you now see both islands coming into view and the church is a spectacular site with its blue domes reflecting in the bright sun.
We hope you have enjoyed our review – have a great visit and send us your review!
THANKS for reading our article.
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TIPS AND TRIP INFO
What is it? – A boat ride on stunning Boka Bay from Perast to Our Lady of the Rocks Island.
Where is it? – Perast is 15 minutes north of Kotor. The island is just off shore and 10 minutes by boat.
When is it? – The church on the Island is open from 0900-1600 winter and 0900-1800 or 1900 in summer. Boats usually start running at 0800.
Why do it? – Perast is charming, the bay is amazing and the Island is a wonder in itself! No brainer, must be on the itinerary!
How long do I need? – 20 minute return boat trip, up to an hour to explore the island. Time to explore Perast, perhaps a meal or drink? You can easily spend half a day here.
How much is it? – The return boat ride is around 5 to 10 euros. Entry to the church/museum is 2 euro.
Tips and Fun facts for visiting Our Lady of the Rocks –
Tip – When visiting Our Lady of the Rocks do not forget that you are visiting a Catholic church so make sure that you are covering shoulders and not visiting in swimwear. Shorts and T-shirts are acceptable.
Tip – Go early to avoid the tour buses – opening time is good 0900!
Tip – The date the icon was discovered (July 22) is celebrated every year with the “fašinada” or fascia in Italian. A flotilla of local boats are joined together and decorated with beautiful garlands. At sunset they sail out into the bay to drop a stone around the island. It’s a colourful spectacle and well worth the effort. It is normally followed by days of regatta style sailing competitions.
CONTACT TRIPROVIDER IF YOU WANT TO BOOK A TOUR TO PERAST!
Trip half day can include Perast and Risan – Full day can also include Budva, but all options flexible!
Tours also available from Dubrovnik
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Kodric is an avid traveller who loves nothing better than a good wander around the streets and back streets of each new destination he visits.
“I enjoy sitting somewhere with a local brew and just watching the locals get on with their daily lives. It’s fascinating to explore the sights, sounds and smells of somewhere new.
As well as visiting the usual tourist attractions, I like to compare the differences between places, the brands and products on offer and of course the local cuisine. I hope you enjoy my articles!”
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