Perast (Italian/Venitan) : Perasto) is an old town in the Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor). It is situated a few Kms northwest of Kotor. Perast lies beneath the hill of St. Elijah (873 m), on a cape that separates the bay of Risan from the bay of Kotor (two smaller bays within the Boka Kotorska) and overlooks the Verige strait, the narrowest part of the Boka Kotorska. The average yearly temperature in Perast is 18.3°C, and the number of sunny days is 240 (or around 2,500 sunny hours per year).
Near Perast there are two small islands: one is called Sveti Djordje (St. George) island, and the other called Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rock), and each of them has a picturesque chapel. Gospa od Škrpjela (originally called in Venetian “Madonna dello Scarpello”) is particularly interesting given that it is the only artificially built island in the Adriatic, with an area of 3,030 m² — it was built upon a rock (Škrpjel) after two Venetian sailors from Perast found a icon of the Virgin Mary on it in 1452.
Perast is a small quiet town with a population of less than 350 where you can escape Montenegro’s busier seaside resorts such as Kotor and Budva and enjoy a couple of leisurely hours strolling through the streets, and visiting a few museums and churches. It has a beautiful view towards the peaks around of Orjen and Lovćen mountain ranges. And from here you can visit the church islands of Gospa od Škrpjela and Sveti Djordje the easiest.
History of Perast
Venice owned the city between 1420 and 1797. Perast (called Perasto in the Venetian language, spoken officially there until the nineteenth century) was part of the Albania Veneta. The city’s sixteen Baroque palaces were mostly built in this period, too, as were its seventeen Catholic churches and two Orthodox churches. One of the biggest churches in Perast is the church of Sveti Nikola, which is located on the main square. It was built in 1691, and it impresses with its bell tower which is 55 meters tall and whose bells in 1713 were the biggest in Europe. The old city does not have a defensive wall, but instead it has nine defensive towers, the most important of which is the tower of the Holy Cross. These were built by the navy of the Venetian Republic in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Perast was at its peak in the 18th century under the Republic of Venice, when it had as many as four active shipyards, a fleet of around one hundred ships, and 1,643 residents. At that time the most beautiful buildings arose in this fortified town. Many ornate baroque palaces such as the Bujovic Palace, Zmajević Palace, Tripković Palace, Smekja Palace and magnificent dwelling-houses decorated the town of Perast, full of typical Venetian architecture. The people of Perast were excellent shipbuilders and fishermen and during conflict between Venice and Turkey they were the first line of defense for Kotor, which at that time was the second largest merchant port after Dubrovnik.
The population has since decreased to 430 in 1910 and around 349 today. The fleet was extinguished by the rise of the steam engine. At the fall of the “Serenissima” (1797) Perast was the last city of the Republic to lower the Venetian flag.
“When the pearls of nature were sown, on this soil an owerflowing handful was gathered”
On 12 May 1797, the Republic of Venice ended, but a few places in the Albania Veneta for several months still continued to remain loyal to the Venetian Republic: Perast was the last place of the Republic to surrender. On 22 August 1797 the Count Giuseppe Viscovich, Captain of Perast lowered the Venetian flag of the Lion of Saint Mark pronouncing the farewell words in front of the crying people of the city and buried the “Gonfalon of Venice” under the altar of the main church of Perast. From 1941 to 1943 during WWII, when Mussolini annexed the territories around Cattaro to the Kingdom of Italy, Perast returned under the influence of Venice. The area was part of the italian Governatorato di Dalmazia and was called Provincia di Cattaro. After 1945 Perast was annexed to Yugoslavia and now is part of the newly independent Montenegro.
The Montenegrins’, Serbs’ and Croats’ languages are all mutually intelligible and derived from Serbo-Croat. The dialect and the vocabulary of the local people are heavily influenced by Italian. Locals usually speak and understand Italian, Russian and English.
Reachable by bus and car from Kotor (15 min drive). Public minibuses will drop you off at the main road between Kotor to the south and Risan, later Herceg Novi to the north. Just look for the Blue Line buses, which cost only €1 per ride. As of September 2014, the Blue Line buses picked up passengers in Perast, heading towards Kotor, every hour on the half-hour (09:30; 10:30; 11:30 etc.) until 22:30. There is a small bus stop located directly across from the city square. To ensure the bus stops, it is advised to wave it down. Otherwise, the bus will not always stop.
There are also several open tourist buses driving along the coast after the hop-on hop-off principle. It stops here as well.
Several boat trips from Kotor and Budva takes you through the bay and sets you off at the small island monastery. Here you have a view towards Perast town itself and the surrounding bay area. These boat trips are found many places along the beaches of Kotor and Budva.
Walking from one end to another is a mere 15-20 min stroll, so no other options than that are really necessary.
- Gospa and Sveti Djordje islands — The two local romantic church islands Sveti Djordje island and Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rock). You can catch water taxis from €5 for a return ticket from the water front. Just look out for the sandwich boards.
- Sveti Nikola church — The most recognizable landmark in Perast with it’s 55 m in height the tallest church tower in the Bay. You can climb it to have a beautiful view of Perast, the bells and the bay’s surrounding.
- The palaces — Perast rich seafarers tradition is best notable in the small palaces that can be found across the town. In the heyday of Perast being part of the Venetian Republic, the sea captains did quit good for them selves. And off course every sailor wants a nice homecoming after a long trip at sea.
Perast doesn’t have sandy beaches, but you can sunbathe there on the numerous small stone and concrete docks jutting out into the sea. Due its small size and almost non existing car traffic makes it a great place to wander around and enjoy the architecture, monuments and surroundings.
Perast has several great restaurants serving local fish and good domestic and foreign wines.
- Konoba Milinovic — It can be found in the villa Boka Bay Bed & Breakfast facing the sea. It offers diverse food of the Mediterranean and traditional cuisine, with an excellent selection of beverages.
- Konoba “Otok Bronza” — It is a restaurant in the traditional style of Boka Kotorska. It is situated in the house of the old noble family, the Bronza. Otok Bronza offers a rich menu of Mediterranean cuisine and local specialties along with a wide choice of quality vines. Welcome and enjoy in the serenity and atmosphere imbued with the spirit of maritime history of baroque Perast!
- Konoba “Skolji” — It is situated on the waterfront by the road in the center of Perast. It offers accommodation, as well as dining. It has a rich menu of traditional and Mediterranean cuisine, fresh fish and seafood. A very pleasant stay is offered in an atmosphere enriched by Mediterranean music.
- Restaurant Conte — It is located in the center of Perast on the waterfront. In authentic surroundings, Conte offers a wide range of fish specialties and other seafood, as well as dishes of both local and European cuisine. The spacious terrace features a wonderful view of the Verige strait enhancing your dining experience.
- Cafe Bar — It can be found in the area of Pencic, near the mandrac, it offers all types of coffee, juices, other drinks, cakes, sandwiches and ice creams. It is open throughout a year.
- Pizzeria “Dardin” — It is situated at the center of Perast and occupies the park and ground floor of the palace Brajkovic – Martinovic. It offers a wide selection of pizzas, snacks and pastries.
- Pirate Bar — It is situated on the beach in Pencic, on the western side of the town. It features a wonderful view of the Verige strait. A light breeze gives it freshness and offers a pleasant stay. It is open 24 hours a day and has beach chairs and showers. Besides alcohol and non-alcohol drinks, it offers ice creams and local food, ham and cheese, etc.
Demographic’s of Perast
In the last census there were: 146 Montenegrins, 101 Serbs, 29 Croats, 10 Yugoslavs, 3 Bosniaks, 1 Macedonian, others: 59,Total: 349. According to the “Comunita’ nazionale italiana del Montenegro”, in Perast actually there are 140 persons who still speak at home the original venetian dialect of Perasto (called “veneto da mar”), and call themselves in the census “Montenegrins”.
- Amfora Hotel — close to city center of Perast, +382 (0) 32 305 857, fax: +382 (0) 32 305 852. Check-in: 24h, check-out: 12h. 4 Star Hotel with private beach, sauna and fish restaurant. Open 24 hours and all 365 days a year. It is located direct at the beach Orahovac. Very quite cosy rooms with seaview overlooking Fjord of Kotor From €30 to €99.
- Boka Bay Bed & Breakfast — Two apartments with kitchenettes above family home.
- Hotel Conte — Upper end apartment rooms.
- Palace Jelena — +382/32/373-549. Very beautiful, and reasonably price hotel located right on the bay. The hotel is part of a restaurant building. Therefore, any hotel related questions (e.g. when is check out?) must be asked to the servers in the restaurant. It can be a little confusing because not all servers know the answer to hotel questions. Otherwise, the hotel is a pleasant experience. All rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi, but it can come and go at times. Mastercard is accepted. Prices for double rooms are around 90 euro a night.
- Budva — the Montenegrin touristic metropolis on the Adriatic Sea is located some 20km south of the Boka Kotorska.
- Cetinje — the historical capital of Montenegro is located just under Mt Lovćen, the mountain overlooking the Boka Kotorska.
- Dubrovnik — the hub of Croatian tourism can be reached from Herceg Novi in less than 40 minutes north of the Boka Kotorska.
- Lovcen national park — Mount Lovćen rises from the borders of the Adriatic basin closing the long ang twisting bays of Boka Kotorska and making the hinterland to the coastal town of Kotor. The mountain has two imposing peaks, Štirovnik (1,749 m) and Jezerski vrh (1,657 m). The mountain slopes are rocky, with numerous fissures, pits and deep depressions giving its scenery a specific look. Standing on the border between two completely different natural wholes, the sea and the mainland, Lovćen is under the influence of both climate.
- Risan — visit the site of Roman ruins and some fairly well-preserved mosaic floors that had been in a Roman house during 2nd century A.D.
- Herceg Novi — take a walk on the 6km-long 5 Danica’s esplanade to meet with the rich and diverse history of the town.
- Njegos Mausoleum — The mausoleum of Petar Petrovic Njegos built of limestone and granite can be found on top of Mount Lovcen. It was Njegos’s last wish, the greatest ruler of the Montenegrins who was a bishop and a poet at the same time to be buried there.
- Prcanj — small family-friendly place with great view of the Bay of Kotor.
- Kotor — an ancient fortified town located deep down the Boka Kotorska bay, and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Tivat — a small town, quickly emerging into a major touristic, business and transport centre. Located in the vicinity of the Tivat International Airport, in summer 2014 it became home of a luxury yacht marina called Porto Montenegro.
- Mamula — Guarding the entrance to the bay, is this prison island built by Austro-Hungarian general Lazar Mamula in mid 19th century. During the World War II, the fort was used as a prison by the Italians.
- The Island Gospa od Skrpjela — (Our Lady of the Rock). The Island Gospa od Skrpjela is one of two gorgeous islands in Kotor Bay, which are situated in the bay across from Perast (in the Kotor municipality). The other island, which also should be visited, is the island Sveti Djordje (St. George). That island is also called “the island of the dead captains”, because according to a legend one French soldier, by shooting from cannon towards Perast, hit a house of his beloved girl and killed her. That legend was a motive for the master piece “The Island of the Dead” by the Switzerland painter Beklin. The Island Gospa od Skrpjela is an artificial island, made by seaman from Perast and Kotor, who on their big sail boats brought in large boulders. According to stories, fisherman from Perast, after a shipwreck near the island, found an icon of the Holy Mother of God with the Christ on a sea rock, so they vowed to build a church on the island. They built the church in 1630. As the island had to be maintained, seaman continued to bring in stones, so that tradition is alive even today. It is called Fasinada from Perast (July 22).
- Plava Spilja — A blue grotto in the bay. It is 5.7 nautical miles away from Herceg Novi. During the summer season, you can take private boats from Herceg Novi to Plava Spilja.
- Mount Orjen — Mount Orjen at 1,894 meters is the highest mountain on the Adriatic coastline and dominates the entrance to the Boka Kotorska and it’s surrounding.