Ostrog Monastery

ostrogOstrog Monastery is considered by many to be the highpoint of visiting Montenegro. Situated directly on the mountainside between Niksic and Podgorica at 900 meters above the ground, the monastery offers beautiful view over the Bielopavlici Plains. The monastery began its cultural journey many centuries ago when Montenegro was in a fight for its independence from the Ottoman Empire. Christians in the area at that time headed to the mountainside for refuge. They established a place to worship and the monastery was founded by St. Basil. St. Basic was the Bishop of Herzegovina who was known as Vlasilijie and later became St. Basic of Ostrog during the 17th century.

The body of St. Basil is enshrined today within a shrine in the monastery. Legend has it that his remains provide healing powers which is one reason that thousands of visitors flock to Ostrog Monastery every year. Building the monastery was difficult as it is actually an expanded natural cave and sits almost vertically on a cliff. The monastery has an upper and lower part with the chapel being the most frequented area.

ostrog-bjelopavliciThe upper monastery was constructed first with focus on the cave directly above Zagorak. St. Basil had the monastery extended to include the Ostrog cliffs and build the church in the first cave. Sleeping quarters and storage were built in the second cave. The third cave was a repository and held the most influential and valuable religious artifacts of that time.

The upper region of the monastery has seen many battles and conquests over the centuries. During the 19th century, Duke Mirko Petrovic and 17 of his soldiers held themselves up in the monastery to defend it against Turkish invasion. They held their place for nine days before being ordered to evacuate and carry out many of the religious artifacts held there. No one is quite sure when the lower area of the monastery was constructed although today it serves as the Church of Stain Trojan and the construction date shows 1824.

Many expansions have taken place over the decades with a significant one being done from 1923 to 1926. Fire had destroyed much of the building and reconstruction took place during these three years. Today, Ostrog Monastery serves as a pilgrimage for Christians as well as Muslims and Catholics. Many claim to experience healing once they have visited the monastery. Some tell stories of having diseases completely eliminated from their bodies while others, and many who are not particularly religious in nature, claim to have been visited in their dreams by St. Basic himself.

The monastery today is visited by those of all faiths and from virtually every country in the world. It is particularly popular during most religious holidays but can be accessed at any time of the day or night and at all times of the year. Guided tours for Ostrog Monastery area available from the neighboring town of Niksic although many prefer to visit the monastery completely independent from guides in order to experience its true spiritual beauty.

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