The most famous cave-like monastery in Montenegro and Europe – Ostrog Monastery Complex- will capture your mind at first site. The monastery is located 15km (9 miles) away from the city of Niksic. It consists of two churches – the Upper and Lower monasteries.
The Upper monastery, which dates back to the 17th century, is the victory of human creativity over the strength of the nature. It looks like a white mansion hidden in a rough rock. In reality, the Upper Monastery stands 900 meters high. The Lower monastery, also known as Holy Trinity Church, dates back to 1824.
Besides being on the list of top travel destinations in Montenegro, it is also the biggest spiritual sanctuary for the locals. Pilgrims visit the monastery to free themselves from sins. In fact, there is an unspoken ritual of doing it. The pilgrims start at the Lower monastery and walk all the way up to the top, spending the journey on thinking about their sins and preparing for a better life. This is the standard way of local pilgrimage. Some dedicated pilgrims may even take off their shoes and walk up barefooted. It probably depends on the amount or essence of your sins.
The old monk serving in the monastery will guide you through the most interesting spots and tell you a few legends. Unfortunately, there are no guides here. Lone travelers can address the monk in case of any questions.
Locals also have their share of mythology added to the image of the monastery. They say Saint Basil, who the monastery is dedicated to, still watches them from the top of the rock, waiting for the moment when they will go back to their roots.
According to another legend, Saint Basil, who was apparently gifted with mystical powers over the nature, ate a pear and threw the seeds over the cliff. The next day the seeds grew into a giant tree, one side of which was covered with flowers, and the other one was full of pears.
How to Get There
You can fly to the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, and take a bus to Ostrog from there. The interstate roads are in good conditions if you’re driving from Serbia, Croatia or Bosnia. However, the closer you get to the actual cliff, the older the roads become. So, make sure your car is not brand new or find a good insurance company.
If your aim is the upper monastery, you’d better be in a good physical shape. You will need to switch a few buses. The scenery surrounding the cliff is just as breathtaking. As if guessing the importance of this cliff for a whole nation, the nature keeps the serenity of the monastery interior. An alternative would be driving up to the lower monastery and walking up for half an hour. The site is pretty crowded on weekends. If you don’t mind the noise, use the chance to study the spiritual traditions of Montenegro. There is no better place, where you can look through the soul of this country.