The village of Perast

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General presentationGeneral information
Weapons of the town of Perast. Click to enlarge the image.Perast is charming and peaceful small town, with the Baroque architecture and without any modern construction.

Perast is classified with the world heritage of UNESCO.

With broad of Perast two small islands are: on the left, the island with Deaths, with the monastery Saint-Georges, and, on the right, the island Our-Lady-of-Rock. Since Perast one can take a boat to go on the two small islands in the middle of the gulf.

EtymologyEtymology
Into Serb Cyrillic, Perast names Пераст; in Italian, Perasto.

SituationSituation

Village of Perast. Click to enlarge the image.Perast is located on northern bank of the Mouths of Kotor, at the end of a course which separates the gulf from Kotor of the gulf of Risan.

The village is overhung by the hill Saint-Élie (Sveti Ilija) (873 m).

Perast is opposite the strait of the Chains (Tjesnac Verige, Stretto delle Italian Catene) the narrowest channel of the Mouths of Kotor opening on bay of Tivat (Teodo).

At the 17th century, Perast had the control of the strait of the Chains which draws its name from the metal chains that the town of Perast had tended under the sea on a side of the gulf, the village of Kamenari, with the other, the village of Lepetane, in order to protect itself from the frequent pirate raids. These chains were not however sufficient, because the city was plundered by the pirates at the 17th century, which marked its decline.

The village is part of the commune of Kotor.

VisitsVisits

Perast belonged to the Republic of Venice between 1420 and 1797, and one can still today recognize this influence on the frontages of his nineteen palaces baroques, witnesses of his old size, and his seventeen catholic churches, and in particular of the Saint Nicolas’s Day church whose bell-tower overhangs the principal place.
Town of Perast. Click to enlarge the image.Town of Perast. Click to enlarge the image.Village of Perast. Click to enlarge the image.
The church Saint Nicolas’s Day (Crkva Svete Nikole)
Installed in the middle of the village, vis-a-vis the sea, the church Saint Nicolas’s Day (Sveti Nikola) was built between 15th and the 17th century, in the fields of the Italian Guiseppe Beati in a style baroque of the 17th century. Ever completed, the church is characterized by its imposing bell-tower, highest of bay of Kotor. It is in 1691 that Ivan Scarpe began the construction of this imposing 55 m height bell-tower with five stages and a series of cabins distributed at a cost of 55,000 ducats.

An inscription, placed above gate of entry, commemorates the defeat of the Turks in 1657, after the Venetian ones conquered Herceg-Novi and Risan:

“Christianae Reipublicae Triumphanti”.
Saint Nicolas's Day church in Perast. Click to enlarge the image.Old town of Perast. Click to enlarge the image.Village of Perast seen since the mountain. Click to enlarge the image.
The church Our-Lady-of-Rosary
The church Our-Lady-of-Rosary, with its octagonal bell-tower, was built in 1687 by the archbishop Andrija Zmajević on the heights close to its palace.
Palaces
Perast knew its apogee with 17th and 18th centuries thanks to a flourishing maritime trade to which its important merchant navy took share. It was the golden age of construction pérastoise: undertaking the captains of its ships were made build for their retirement of splendid palaces.

The village counts more than ten these palaces, dispersed along the sea front and hillside Saint-Élie. These sumptuous buildings still dominate the urban landscape of Perast. Most famous are the palaces of the families Martinović, Zmajević, Bujović, Visković, Mazarović, Balović, Smekija…

Rule of Matija Zmajevic. Click to enlarge the image.It is in the Zmajević palace that was born, on January 6th, 1680, the future Russian admiral Matija Zmajević, as recalled by a plate affixed on the house. The young captain Matija Zmajević had to flee of Perast because suspected of having assassinated Vicko Bujović, whose family was rival among that of Zmajević. He took refuge in Istanbul where the Russian ambassador recommended it to the tsar Pierre 1st for his qualities of sailor. He became admiral and ordered the Russian fleet of the Baltic at the time of his victory over the Swedish fleet.

The uncle of the admiral, the archbishop Andrija Zmajević, made build his own palace on the heights of the hill Saint-Élie, beside the octagonal tower of the church Our-Lady-of-Rosary. There remain only ruins today about it.

The maritime Museum of the City
The Bujović palace. Click to enlarge the image.Most famous of the palaces of Perast, the palace of Bujović, was built in 1694 by the brothers Ivan and Marko Bujović, according to the plans of the Venetian architect Giovanni Batista Fonte. The legend reports that the architect paid his life achieved work, because, the question of Bujović asking to him whether it could build a more beautiful palace than that one, it answered that it could it. This is why one precipitated it from the top of a balcony, so that the palace remained incomparable.
Lion of the Bujovic palace. Click to enlarge the image.Postcard of the Bujovic palace in 1900. Click to enlarge the image.The palace is decorated, on three sides of the building, of five harmonious balconies, on which open windows with arcade; a vast balustrade, decorated of two lions scanning bay of Kotor, rises above a porch with the massive pillars built in technique “bugnatto”.

The palace of Bujović shelters from now on the maritime Museum of the town of Perast.

With 17th and 18th centuries, the town of Perast had a naval college, the “Nautica”. At the end of the 17th century - on the recommendation of Venice - the Pierre-the-Large tsar of Russia sent sixteen aristocrats to it to learn navigation, when he wanted to create a Russian imperial fleet. It is the captain Marko Martinović de Perast who taught the maritime techniques with the Russian boyards.

Fortifications
Although the city was very exposed - at the border of the Ottoman Empire - old Perast did not have ramparts, but was protected by ten independent turns of watch, called “cardaci”. These turns were built by the navy of the Republic of Venice during 15th and 16th centuries; the city passed then under the domination of Venice in 1420. There remains today nothing any more but one of these turns and the ruins of the single fortress Holy-Cross (Santa Croce), of the 16th century (1570), which rises above the city. Although not being surrounded of walls, Perast was never taken by the Turks.
The island in Deaths or island Saint-Georges
Island Saint-Georges in Perast. Click to enlarge the image.The island Saint-Georges (Sveti Đorđe) is a small rock small island, located in bay of Kotor at broad of Perast and a dozen kilometers east of Herceg-Novi.

Vis-a-vis the village of Perast, two small islands cope. The island Saint-Georges, or island of Deaths, is planted cypress, and shelters the cemetery of the village and a small monastery.

A monastery Benedictine Saint-Georges was built on the island at the 9th century. Mentioned for the first time in a document going back to 1166, it would seem that he sheltered Benedictines as of the 9th century. Except some details, the original building could not be preserved. Attacked with many recoveries, the monastery, moreover, was victim of earthquakes; that of 1667 destroyed the ceiling and the apse of the church.

A new church was built at the 17th century.

In 1812, the island was taken by the French, then in 1814 by the Austrians, before finally being allocated to the inhabitants of Perast.

The cemetery close to the vault shelters the tombs of tens of captains of marine of Perast.

On the port of Perast, some sailors propose to rent their boat to reach the island Saint-Georges and the close island; one can not only visit it, but also bathe there.

The island Our-Lady-of-Rock (Gospa od Škrpjela)
Islands with Perast. Click to enlarge the image.The island Our-Lady-of-Rock is an artificial small island of 3000 m ² created by the inhabitants of Perast as from the 15th century.

It is the only artificial island built in the Adriatic. The island belongs to the town of Perast even if, geographically, it is located more close to the commune of Herceg-Novi than to that to Perast. It is in bay of Kotor, with a hundred meters of its neighbor, the island Saint-Georges.

The legend says that on July 22nd, 1452, two fishing brothers, Vénitiens of Perast, found an icon of the Virgin on a reef with broad of Perast. Pérastois started to pile up around this rock of the wrecks of sailing ships and the stones of all sizes in the intention to build a church later there.

Island Our-Lady-of-Rock. Click to enlarge the image.Nearly two centuries later, in 1630, Pérastois indeed set up there a church to which they gave the name of Our-Lady-of-Rock (Gospa od Škrpjela), by reference to the rock (Škrpjel) of origin.

Simple vault at its origin at the 17th century, the current church dates from the 18th century: it was increased in 1725, but remains of modest size, with only one overcome nave of a recognizable octagonal dome, and a tower with a bell-tower, giving him an aspect enough baroque.

The interior of the building, very richly decorated, shelters sixty-eight paintings carried out by Tripo Kokolja (1661-1713), a famous painter baroque originating in Perast. It was necessary more than ten years for Tripo Kokolja to carry out these paintings at the end of the 17th century.

The icon of the Madonna and her child, hung above the furnace bridge, is the work of Lovro Marinov Dobričević, a painter of the 15th century originating in Kotor and also author of several icons decorating the monastery in Savina (close to Herceg-Novi).

The church contains also one moving collection of more than 2000 ex-votos, of which a collection of votive silver plates, offered by the sailors. A small museum, behind the church, presents marine objects.

Each year, on July 22nd, takes place a famous pilgrimage, the “Fasinada”, during which the inhabitants of the surroundings come to commemorate the discovery of the icon of the Virgin, and to consolidate the small island by adding their stone to it.

History and traditionsHistory, literature, arts, traditions, legends, religions, myths, symbols…

HistoryHistory
Perast was independent during a time at the 14th century. The city was initially voluntarily placed under the protection of the Republic of Venice. Because many Pérastois, in particular the Venetian ones of Perast, had accurately been useful in the fleet of the Republic at the time of a terrible seat, Venice granted in 1368 to the nobility of the small town illustrates it title of Fidelissima Gonfaloniera (most faithful standard bearer). By a special decree of the Senate, the city had the honor and the responsibility of keep the banner of war of the Venetian fleet; the twelve Gonfaloniers, which, during the battle, was the personal guard of the doge and had the task to defend the banners, came exclusively from Perast. In the battle of Lépante, eights of these gonfaloniers on the twelve died.

Perast belonged to the Republic of Venice of 1420 to 1797; she belonged to Venetian Albania then. The city was then subjected to the civil authority and legal of the vice-chancellor and administrator of Kotor, but it had its own council and of its own regulations.

It is under the Republic of Venice, at the 18th century, that Perast knew its apogee; time when it did not have less than four active shipyards, a fleet of a hundred ships, and 1700 inhabitants.

The fidelity of Perast to the Republic of Venice survived the fall of this one: while on May 12th, 1797 the doge of Venice deposited the badge of Saint-Marc, the inhabitants of Perast decided to remain Venetian and preserved their governmental autonomy until the arrival of the Austrian troops. The flags of Venice were hoisted until August 23rd, day when the last flag of the Republic of Venice was buried, during a solemn ceremony, under the furnace bridge of the cathedral. The captain of the guard, the count Joseph Viscović, while giving the banner to the Venetian priests, pronounced vis-a-vis the militia and with all the people a short speech intense and moving. This speech remained in the history under the title of “You with Us, Us with You”.

At the 19th century, the city lost of its importance and its population fell in 1910 to 430 inhabitants.

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