Skadar Lake does not only offer magnificent natural beauties and opportunities for outdoor tourism; it also hides around fifteen medieval monasteries, most of them located at inaccessible places. One of them is the Kom Monastery, built in the beginning of the 14th century on the crest of Odrin Hill (photo 1). Most of the time it can be visited by boat only and there is only one inhabitant: a Serbian-Orthodox monk.
Last weekend we made a wonderful boat cruise with our friends from Skadar Lake – Boat Milica (email: email@example.com; phone: 068 702 376) to this monastery. It was a perfect day and we looked forward to the excursion that would last around four hours.
Leaving from Virpazar, we passed under the Vranjina bridge and it was interesting to see the ruins of the old Lesendro fortress from the water side (photo 2). Lesendro was built by Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrović Njegoš to protect Montenegro from invading Turkish armies. But in vain, in 1843 Lesendro was conquered by the Turkish Oman Pasha.
Our hosts Andrija and Jelena showed us the surroundings: the island of Vranjina; far away the Prokletija mountains, still covered with snow; then the old fortress of Žabljak Crnojevića and several islands, populated by sheep and goats only. Can you imagine that the goats are transported to the island by traditional fishing boats?
We saw many birds (photo 3) on our way to the monastery: grey and white herons, cormorants and sea gulls, and even a big eagle circling high above us. The landscape was typical for this part of Skadar Lake, clear water surfaces with scattered reed beds (photo 4), but we were told that the water level is much lower during the summer months.
After a wonderful ride in the comfortable wooden boat, we reached the Kom Monastery. A family just returned – by boat – from a baptizing ceremony, accompanied by the pope, and we were cordially welcomed by the only monk who lives here. There were chickens around and I saw a lot of bee hives, one of them even in the form of a church. A stone bell tower took the central place of the monastery complex.
But the most beautiful part was the medieval church, dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God. We entered the small church, where the monk said a prayer for us. He showed us the graves of four members of the Crnojević family, among others, of Stefan Crnojević and his wife Mara Kastrioti, the sister of Skenderbeg. The fresco paintings from the 16th century were impressive, too (photo 5).
After the break, we continued our trip through the Karatuna River that leads to Dodoši and further on to Žabljak Crnojevića. In the old times, this was the natural border between Montenegro and Turkey. What a beautiful and clean river! We met fishermen in their traditional „čun“ (photo 7), the river banks were covered with yellow spurge and many birds were hiding among the willows.
Finally we were rewarded with a picturesque view of Dodoši, a traditional fishing village(photo 8). During the summer, this is a place where you can hire kayaks, swim in the transparent river or just relax in one of the pubs and restaurants.
But it was time to return to Virpazar, where the boat trip ended. I was really impressed by this beautiful route through the less known northern part of Skadar Lake and I will certainly recommend this particular boat cruise to all guests we are expecting this summer!