Ostrog has become one of the most important attractions of Montenegro, in particular since the new road from Danilovgrad to the monastery was finished and the old road – which passes through the village of Bogetići – was reconstructed. From Podgorica, you can thus make a beautiful round trip that offers much more than a visit to the famous monastery complex alone.
We took the new road that starts from Danilovgrad, which is certainly the fastest way to reach the monastery. The distance from Podgorica is 38 km and there is not much traffic. We enjoyed the view of the Bjelopavlići plain and the emerald green Zeta river, slowly finding its way through the beautiful landscape composed of forests, orchards and vinyards, mixed with old stone houses and churches showing their red roofs as colorful pads in the vast plain.
Passing by the new church of St Stanko the Martyr that was built in 2004 we arrived at the big parking lot near the Lower Monastery and the Holy Trinity Church (1824), with its vivid wall paintings covering every inch of the interior. But of course, our main destination was the Upper Monastery…..
From the parking lot, a very steep two-kilometer footpath leads up to the main destination, the Upper Monastery. It is a special experience – not only for believers, but also for tourists – to walk all the way to the Upper monastery (900 m above sea level). However, due to the hot weather we decided to take the car and use the paved road that leads to an upper car park.
The view from the balcony of the Upper Monastery, founded by Metropolitan St Basil (Sv. Vasilije) in the 17th century, was striking. The white building is constructed in two caves, so that it seems to be nestled within the vertical rock face. One cave-chapel is painted with scenes from the New Testament and the other cave-chapel, constructed in 1774, contains a reliquary with the enshrined body of St Basil.
The monastery is one of the most often visited holy shrines in the Balkans. Believers – Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Muslims – come from all over the world on their own or as a part of organized tours. They all consider it a holy place and believe that the relics of Saint Basil bring miracles for all who believe and have faith.
They like to tell the story that, once upon a time, there was a mother who left a wooden cradle on top of a wall near the monastery. The baby moved in the cradle so that it fell off the wall from about 70 meters high. It really was a miracle that the baby remained unharmed!
A lot of people have told stories about the spiritual changes that happened in their lives after visiting the monastery. Yet many more talk about being healed of physical diseases upon their visits to Ostrog.
Near the Upper Monastery is a large “konak”, a residence unit for the monks, but it also offers overnight possibilities for visitors. Around the complex, in particular near the Lower Monastery, souvenir shops are selling religious nicknacks and other products. I believe that all these commercial activities have spoiled the mystic atmosphere of this beautiful place, but I suppose there are no alternatives for satisfying the needs of both pilgrims and tourists.
The road between the monastery and Bogetići has always been a challenge. Narrow and steep, without any protection elements, the road was winding along the cliff sides for a rather slow-going and treacherous eight kilometers. Fortunately, the road was reconstructed lately, so that it has become much safer. But it is still an adventure when you meet a big bus on the narrow road!
Taking back the road via Bogetići we soon reached the highway Nikšić-Podgorica, but not after having a lunch in “Konoba”, a restaurant with excellent Montenegrin dishes and a nice atmosphere. By the way, the village of Bogetići disposes of several good restaurants, like “Koliba” with a beautiful terrace, which also offers accommodation.
My recommendation: if you want to visit the Ostrog Monastery, be prepared for a crowded place and try to forget the ugly souvenir shops – in particular during the summer season. Instead, enjoy the magnificent view from the monastery balcony on the vast Bjelopavlići plain and experience the mystic atmosphere in the cave-chapels ….