It’s the Ostrog monastery that should be in the first place for everyone who wants to see not only natural and cultural attractions in Montenegro, but also to touch the heroic history of it’s people, which has always been inextricably linked with the Orthodox faith.
Yes, there are a lot of churches and monasteries in Montenegro, but Ostrog has always been considered the most important one. It is here that the Montenegrins bring their children to be baptized, here they receive their first brojanitsa, and Saint Basil of Ostrog protects them until the end of their lives.
It’s possible to get to the monastery on your own, but it is quite problematic — buses do not go to the monastery, and a taxi is very expensive. If you come to Ostrog in a rented car, be sure to go upstairs by minibus — the road is very difficult and rather dangerous.
Ostrog monastery — a place full of secrets and mysteries
As part of the “Monastery Tour” my husband and I visited Ostrog — a holy place not only for Orthodox Christians, but also for believers of all denominations, and even atheists. This friary, which, by the way, is active, is the 3rd most visited monastery among Orthodox pilgrims in the world, second only to the Holy Sepulcher and Mount Golgotha in Israel.
Anyone who thinks to come to Montenegro we recommend to visit the shrine. Staying on the territory of the monastery, it seems that you find yourself in another world — all worries and problems recede into the background and it seems that you’re left alone with your soul. Simply indescribable sensations fill the whole body.
I don’t know about others, but I didn’t even want to take pictures on the territory of the monastery (and even my husband got my mood), which is why we have very few photos. If suddenly you have good pictures from this holy place, please send them to us (just write in the comments).
Saint Basil of Ostrog — founder of the Ostrog monastery
St. Basil of Ostrog is the most revered of the 4 Montenegrin saints. In search of pacification, he, together with the pilgrims who inhabited the stone caves of the rocks before his arrival, built an amazing monastery that captivates the eyes and soul.
The healing power of the imperishable relics of Saint Basil of Ostrog
During his life, Saint Basil of Ostrog became famous for numerous miracles. Now, in the hope of healing, believers (and this is hard to believe, but even atheists) humbly stand in long lines to the relics of the Saint, and ask for help in healing bodily or mental wounds. Many managed to recover from serious ailments, and some found help in solving their problems.
Sights and shrines of the Ostrog monastery
The entire territory of the monastery consists of two parts: the upper one and the lower one. Between them there is something like a forest with a serpentine road (about 5 km).
Pilgrims use a short walking trail in most cases, covering this distance in 20 — 25 minutes. According to legend, in order to atone for your sins and get rid of ailments, you need to climb to the upper monastery on your knees. Some pilgrims do this even now.
The Lower Monastery was founded in the 19th century by Archimandrite Joseph Pavichevich. It includes: the Church of the Holy Trinity, for which the Russian Tsar Nicholas II donated a lot of money, monastic rooms and a hotel for pilgrims. The imperishable hands of the Holy Martyr Stank, a child tortured by the Turks, are kept in the church. He was an ordinary shepherd from the village, and when he was ordered to throw down the holy cross, which he was holding in his hands, he did not obey the invaders. The Turks cut off both of his hands as a punishment.
There are also 27 people reburied in this temple, who during the Second World War defended Ostrog and its shrines from the communist army.
The Upper Monastery is located high in the mountains (900 m above sea level). It’s literally built into a rocky niche and seems to be a continuation of the mountain. Driving up to the monastery you’ll get the impression that it’s just floating in the air. This part of the monastery also has two levels. On the first level there is a small Church of the Holy Cross of the 17th century (presumably 1665), and a little higher — Church of the Presentation (or Church of the Virgin Mary), 18th century.
Church of the Presentation — a very small temple, famous for the fact that in it St. Basil of Ostrog spent his last 15 years of life in prayers and penances. Today the icon of the Saint is depicted on the rock, and inside the church are the relics of Saint Basil. Also in the church are kept such Orthodox shrines as a prayer book from 1732 and temple candlesticks from 1779.
It is important to remember that the Church of the Presentation, in which the relics of St. Basil of Ostrog are kept, is carved into the rock, and as you might have guessed, the ceilings are low there. Usually guides warn tourists about this, but firstly, not everyone uses their services, and secondly, it’ll not hurt to remind anyone once again. Bend your head low when entering the temple to avoid injury.
Another unusual phenomenon for me was that pilgrims put candles in Ostrog in special boxes with water, and to glue them at the bottom there is sand: they put them on the one side of room for health, and on the other — for the rest in peace.
Since there is always a long queue to the relics of St. Basil of Ostrog, you will have very little time to ask for help directly in front of the relics. Therefore, think beforehand briefly and concisely your desire, but be careful, because they say that the Saint will certainly fulfill it. And if you promise something in return, then be sure to fulfill the promise, otherwise you’ll be punished.
We recommend you to write notes for health and for the rest in peace of family and friends while standing in line. Then everything happens in a little different way: when you move away from the relics, give these notes to the monk standing next to it, he will take care of them.
Monastery shop in Ostrog
I am sure that everyone who comes to Ostrog thinks about a souvenir or a gift to family and friends. I can safely say that you can buy everything you need right on the territory of the monastery in the monastery shop, which is located directly next to Church of the Holy Cross. Don’t be intimidated by the large number of people inside, because the girls working there manage to pay attention to everyone. You can find not only candles, icons, incense, but also Brojanitsa, pendants with the image of a monastery or Saints, various charms, honey, brandy, olive oil, wine, and even natural cosmetics in the shop.
It’ll be interesting: monastery shops in Montenegro: what should I buy?
The monastery shop is located in this building:
The road to the Ostrog monastery — how to get there yourself?
As mentioned more than once in the article, the Ostrog monastery is located in the mountains (about 15 km from Danilovgrad). You can get to it in different ways. If you want to get to the monastery from the coast of Montenegro, you need to go towards the city of Nikšić, or towards the city of Podgorica.
Usually tourist buses travel through Podgorica, passing Skadar Lake. Then they move towards Nikšić, but do not reach it, turn aside and continue to move literally 8 km.
It’s also possible to get to Ostrog by regular bus all from the same Podgorica or Nikšić, but you’ll be taken not to the monastery itself, but to the village of Bogetici. We don’t know how to go from there to a monastery, you’ll have to figure it out on the spot by yourself.
There is another way to see the famous monastery — by renting a car. But we don’t recommend this option to our readers, since the roads in Montenegro are very difficult for inexperienced drivers. Many of them are rather narrow, or literally pass over the cliffs. Every now and then there are special signs — a dangerous section of the road. Experienced Montenegrin drivers, accustomed to just such a canvas, cope with their work without any problems, but our all others may have real problems.
I don’t want to scare you, but during the excursion to the canyons of the Tara and Moraca rivers, we stood in a traffic jam for about an hour due to an accident on the road, and for some reason it seems to me that inexperienced car drivers were involved.
If you still choose to rent a car, then the following information is for you. The most convenient way to go on a rented car is from Danilovgrad. First you need to drive about 15 km along the E762 road towards Nikšić until the right turn onto a narrow road. Then — to the crossroads with the sign “Ostrog Monastery”. The next section of the road will climb the mountains and become even narrower. By car you can only get to the Church of the Holy Trinity, and then you’ll have to go on foot.
Since the road to the monastery is rather narrow, there are unwritten rules for drivers.
First, the one who drives from the outside of the road is allowed to pass. This is quite logical, since in some areas, apart from small stones standing at the edge of the cliff, there are no fences. Therefore, if you are driving from the inside, it’ll be you who will back up to the first “pocket” for driving.
Secondly, if a bus is coming towards you, and you’re not driving another bus, then again you have to give way (also quite rightly).
Third, be extremely careful, but don’t be nervous. After all, according to legend, St. Basil of Ostrog himself guards this road to the monastery, so there hasn’t been a single accident in history.
In general, we strongly recommend taking a minibus to the monastery. It costs only 2.5 Euros, and it’ll save your time and spare some nerves for you and your fellow travelers.
Map of the route to the Ostrog monastery
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Ostrog monastery — a place full of secrets and mysteries
- Saint Basil of Ostrog — founder of the Ostrog monastery
- Sights and shrines of the Ostrog monastery