Order our new book, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
Mini book

Montenegro

Our Lady of the Rocks

A tiny church on a man-made island in the Adriatic 

Gospa od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) is the name of one of two tiny islands located in the inner part of Boka Kotorska bay, near the old town or Perast.

The peculiar fact about these island is that they are almost completely man made.

The island began as a pile of rocks, and according to legend, on 22nd of July 1452, two fishermen, brothers Moršić discovered an image of Virgin Mary there. A tiny Orthodox chapel was built on the site.

In the 1600s Venetians took over the region of Boka and the city of Perast. In 1630 they built a Catholic chapel on the place of original orthodox one. They decided to further expand the island by piling rocks from the mainland and by sinking the old ships. The custom remains to this day. Every 22nd of July at sunset citizens of Perast take their boats and throw rocks into the sea. The custom is known as fašinada.

The church visible today dates from 1722. It houses a venerable 15th century icon of Virgin Mary, the work of Lovro Dobričević, now know as Our Lady of the Rocks, and an altar made of Carrara marble is a work of Genovese sculptor Antonio Capelano.

Behind the church there is a small museum dedicated to history of Perast. The courtyard in front is known as “Place of Reconciliation.” Today the small island church acts as a sort of cultural center of Catholics of Boka. It has served for public gatherings and as a place where local disputes were settled, most importantly blood feuds between the catholic families of Boka, preventing many vendettas.

Know Before You Go

Ferry connection available from most towns in Boka Kotorska. Quickest and cheapest from Perast.

Edit Place