By far the greatest pilgrimage sight in Montenegro, this twin orthodox monastery is besieged by sick and need no less then by groups of religious tourists. These all come to bow in front of the miraculous relics of St Vasilije of Ostrog ( Sveti Vasilije Ostroški), a 17th century orthodox bishop of Herzegovina and founder of the monastery who performed many miraculous deeds during his life. As well as for its religious importance the upper monastery is known equally for its unique setting. One can see it from afar rammed in the vertical cliff high above the valley of river Zeta that emerges beneath it. It was founded in 656 by bishop Vasilije Jovanović as he fled from his seat which was destroyed by the Turks. Here he spend the rest of his days living in ascetic poverty and performing miracles for Orthodox, Catholic and Muslims alike.
The monastery’s position close to the place where the sides of nearby mountains draw nearest brought with it a turbulent history: it is here that the Montenegro blocked the passage between Nikšić and Podgorica in many occasions when they waged war against the Turks. In these battles Ostrog, itself a fort of kind, was destroyed several times, but the holy relics were always hidden in safer places.
The local road branches off from Podgorica-Nikšić highway for the village of Bogetići. From the village to the monastery the road is 8 km long but seams much longer because of its poor state. Winding above the abysses, it is very narrow and badly secured, not to mention the heavy bus traffic on it, so one should be extremely careful here.
The road first reaches the Lower Monastery in front of which is a large parking lot surrounded with souvenirs shops and a few restaurants. The church of the lower monastery dates from 1824 and is a modest stone edifice with a high belfry. The frescoes in it are quite recent in origin but interesting for the dramatic scenes they depict from the little of St Vasilije and his many healings.
The Upper Monastery can be reached by a short drive up the serpentines (this section of the road in in perfect condition), or by a half an hour climb through the woods, the path that many of the believers cover bare footed. In front of the monastery is plateau from whose edge one enjoys spectacular views over the Zeta valley. Here there is also a hostel visitors, where one can spend the night for only one euro (in ascetic condition trough). The white monastery complex, which seems stuck onto the rock, is approached through a small gate. Directly in front, on the lowest level, is a tiny cavern church where the miraculous relics are displayed. Its walls are depicted with frescoes dating from 1665 which are barely visible from the thick soot of the ever lit candles. Stairs lead to the highest level with a terrace on the side and another small cave church on the other. This one contains frescoes from 1667 done by painter Radul, which are regarded as his best work.
Montenegro Hostel Team