Our Lady of the Rocks

our-lady-of-the-rocksPerast has two small islets just off the coast. One of those islets is Gospa od Škrpjela or Our Lady of the Rocks. Our Lady of the Rocks is an artificial island that was created according to legend by seamen who laid rocks on in the sea after finding an icon of Madonna and Child there. The sinking of old ships loaded with rocks contributed to the island’s creation.

The main and largest structure on the island is the Roman Catholic Church which is names Our Lady of the Rocks. The church today has a museum attached that holds many historical artifacts from the area. It also has a gift shop that sees thousands of visitors every year. A navigation light is located on the western end of the island and the structures and architecture offer a glimpse into the historical significance of the island as well as the surrounding region of Perast.

According to the legend, the seamen built the island by placing rocks near the Madonna and Child icon. As they returned from successful voyages out to sea, they would lay a rock in the Bay of Kotor. This led to the eventual creation of the islet and a custom of throwing rocks in the sea is still today a major attraction for many visitors. Each year at sunset on the 22nd of July, Fasinada is held. This celebration involves the residents of the area taking a boat out into the Bay and throwing rocks into the sea. This widens the island surface and has been a custom for centuries.

The first church known to be built on the islet was of Serbian Orthodox faith and was constructed in 1452. The Roman Catholics took over the church and built the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks that stands today. This structure was built in 1632. Upgrades took place in the church in 1722 and today it contains a number of paintings by Tripo Kokolja, a baroque artist during the 17th century. The Death of the Virgin is one of his most prominent pieces. Ten meters long, this painting hangs in the church and draws many visitors every year. Paintings by several Italian artists are also hanging in the church. Our Lady of the Rocks, painted in 1452 by Lovro Dobričević from Kotor as well as a collection of silver votive tablets and tapestry can also be seen.

Two marble altars stand in the main nave of the church. These altars are dedicated to St. Rocco and the Immaculate Conception and were created in the Baroque design. There is another marble altar in the main presbytery and the icon of the Virgin Mary with Jesus sits in the church as well. The bell tower, divided into three different parts, is a major tourist attraction today.

Local tours are available to the islet from Perast. It takes only about five minutes to arrive on Our Lady of the Rocks and many take time while visiting Perast to travel to the islet. Many who visit Kotor also take the time to view this historic treasure.

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