Posted Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 5:01pm by Zen Recreations
The Serenity of Savina, Herceg-Novi
For this year’s big getaway, may we propose a something quietly different? How about “unique + calm + touristy + history”? All these are available in Herceg Novi, and summer is the time to relax and absorb all those time-off things you want to indulge in; shopping and sightseeing gives way to munching and sipping on something entirely new and different. But your Secret Sauce for this adventure is to top it all off with moments of serenity you just can’t find anywhere else.
Unique even among historical sites, the still-functioning Savina monastery compound houses two churches called the “Church of the Dormition” and a third church named after Saint Sava. Savina will provide a dose of calm that (according to some records) dates back to 1030 A.D., and the churches house some of the most important religious relics in existence, including the Crystal Cross of St. Sava, dating from the 13th century. The churches have undergone significant renovations and now represent some of the best Baroque architecture still in use and some of the best preserved frescos predating the Renaissance.
Inside Saint Sava Church
Ancient Frescos line the walls of Savina Monastery
The compound is dominated by the elegant 18th-century Church of the Dormition (Crkva Uspenja Bogorodice, meaning literally ‘the falling into sleep of the Mother of God’), carved from pinkish Croatian stone. Inside there are beautifully gilded iconostases, which are full walls of icons (typically separating the nave from the sanctuary). The Savina churches are filled with (and covered with) some the best-preserved early Christian frescos, as well.The quiet calm is preserved 24/7, so we’d remind you to dress “demurely”.
Did you know?
From the Savina monastery’s hilltop, you can soak up “views to die for”, taking in pretty much everything; the Old Town, the Luštica Peninsula, and to the east you can see all the way across Kotor Bay to the giant Lovcen mountain. The views from here get solid five star reviews from every corner of the ‘net!
Within day trip distances are grottoes, less crowded beaches and more historical sites. And if you really get the travel bug, Montenegro is host to canyon climbs, white water rafting, some of the best wine tours https://goo.gl/g5EGFd in Europe and morehttps://goo.gl/7UZXaZ!
Also close by is the Forte Mare, a fort built in the late 1300s and notably taken over by the Venetians, just another sign that scenic Montenegro has been annexed, owned, conquered, absorbed or abandoned by just about every government within reach at one point or another!
Visitors can see a lot of exotic tropical conifers of which mostly pines that were brought by sailors from their travels in the past. The view stretches over Lustica and Ostri Rt (Sharp Cape projecting into the sea and marking a notable change in coastal direction), as well as Topla village in whose hinterland lies Sutorina village near the border with Croatia.
Especially for those who can read Serbian and enjoy local history, imagining who these people were, and wonder how they ended up in their permanent resting place, the old cemetery is a worthy visit. Some of the gravestones are quite humorous - one loosely says in Serbian rhyme, “Once I was like you, and soon you will be like me.
Did you know?
The Savina monastery has its own vineyard (the local grape variety is called Žižak), and you can buy the Savina wine in the shop and religious memorabilia.
Signs for the Savina Monastery are well posted from the highway at Meljine. The monastery is about one mile from the bus station or the old town of Herceg Novi; a taxi will run just 2-3 Euro. A ferry crosses from the Kotor side of the bay on a regular schedule.
The monastery is not a hard walk from the road, and the path has a nice ocean view to enjoy.
More Historical Items of Interest
If deep history is a hot button of interest, the Savina monastery offers more to tempt you, and the area also features more spots that will drench you with antiquity. Imagine sitting in an open air café and seeing crenelated castle towers and baroque-era buildings in every direction!
Right in the old town area, Kanli Kula is part of an ancient fortress whose name means ‘bloody tower’, a place that more than lived up to its name during Turkish rule (1480s–1680s); you can see where doomed inmates carved into the walls in the dungeon. The annual “Operosa Opera Festival” takes place here every summer in an amphitheater. The Old Town itself (Stari Grad) is a period walled fortress for that matter, and encloses the Bloody Tower.
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