The chapel of Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) lies just off the shore of the village of Perast at the place where the Bay of Kotor widens, stretching its wings like a butterfly. The people of Perast, fewer than 500 of them, live in stone houses that have been home to their families for hundreds of years. The village hugs the shore, caught between the bay and high mountains. Time spent wandering around Perast – particularly with camera in hand – is a glimpse into the past. A very tall church tower marks the center of the village, surely an important landmark for centuries of seamen. The lion of St. Mark, the design of buildings, the tall church tower are all reminders that this place comprised of old stone buildings was constructed by long-gone Venetians. Water taxis and other small craft are tied up at the shore. In summer local people enjoy the tiny beach.
Sailing east and then south, passing other small villages appear along the shoreline, we arrive in medieval Kotor. Here the cathedral proudly announces in large numerals its founding in the year 809. The old town is squeezed inside a small, triangular space inside ancient walls.
Once I arrived by ship in Kotor just before the sun rose. The far side of the town is protected by an ancient wall, outlined in lights. The wall climbs the mountain, reaching from sea to sea. The dim mountainside, the twinkling small lights and the pink sky made an enchanting view.
The European Stability Initiative’s page on Montenegro includes video as well as more detailed history of the country. Begin here.
See time-lapse video of Kotor as night falls and the wall lights up: http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/05/06/just-an-afternoon-in-kotor-montenegro/