There are dozens of Orthodox monasteries scattered all over Montenegro. I already presented you a selection of 5 monasteries on the coast and another five monastery complexes, which are, in my opinion, the most impressive ones. But … many travelers want to see exactly those monasteries that can be found off the beaten track. Maybe they are hardly accessible or far away from the highway. Maybe they are not so attractive from the outside. Maybe they are hard to find. And that is why I would like to present you another series of monasteries, sacred places where you will find beauty, tranquility and peace. This is my choice:
- Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery: turbulent history
You can find Djurdjevi Stupovi near the town of Berane. The beautiful monastery church of St. George (Sveti Djordje) was built by the nephew of the Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja in the 12th century. When you see this quiet place now, you would hardly believe that it has been destroyed by the Turks – and rebuilt – five times. That is the reason why the locals also call it “Monastery of Martyrs”. Can you imagine that the Austro-Hungarian army converted the monastery into a horse stable during World War I? Fortunately, in the beginning of this century it was finally renovated in its present form, preserving fragments of the original frescoes from the 14th century on the church walls.
- Piperska ćelija Monastery: a story of miracles
This is one of my favorite monasteries and I often go there because of its calming and relaxing effect. It is located around 15 km from Podgorica. The convent was built by Sveti Stefan Piperski in 1637 on a rock near the village of Crnci, allowing a wonderful view of the Bjelopavlići Valley. Surrounded by a big wall, the complex reminds you of a medieval fortress. What is so special about this monastery? First of all, the cordial welcome. Whenever we visited the monastery, even when we were there with a group of hikers, the nuns would offer us a seat on the terrace, a glass of water and a cup of coffee. When you are interested, the nuns will not hesitate to show you the relics of Sveti Stefan, which are kept in the church, telling an impressive story about all the miracles that have happened here. (see also http://montenegro-for.me/2013/04/piperi-hiking-and-biking-off-the-beaten-track/
- Dajbabe Monastery: located in a cave near Podgorica
This small monastery is located in a cave on the Dajbaba hill that raises above the Zeta Valley. It was founded by the monk Simeon Popović at the end of the 19th century. Simeon also painted the interior of the cave that has the form of a cross. Adapting the frescoes to the natural shape of the rock, he worked on it until his death in 1941. The monastery is an interesting place to visit, although the view from the hill is spoiled by the Podgorica Aluminium Works in the immediate surroundings.
- Dobrilovina Monastery: picturesque position and tumultuous past
Located at the beginning of the Tara Canyon in the village of Dobrilovina, near the protected primeval black pine forest of Crna Poda, this monastery was mentioned for the first time in 1592, when the Ottoman authorities allowed the locals “to rebuild it”.
The present church of Sveti Djordje (St. George), built in 1609, has been abandoned, devastated by the Turks and renovated many times since its construction. The old frescoes from the early 17th century are faded and in poor condition, but they are very beautiful indeed. I like this monastery first of all for its idyllic setting between the mountains and the Tara River and the wooden bell tower in front of the church. And there is another interesting story about this monastery: it is said that it had its own milk pipeline – a hand-made wooden channel by which fresh milk was transported from the pastures of Sinjajevina.
- Podmalinsko Monastery: off the beaten track
Podmalinsko is located near Boan in Sinjajevina. It is not so easy to find, as it is situated in the valley of the Bukovica River, 800 m from the asphalt road. You can park your car along the road and walk down through the forest to the river bank. According to a legend, this monastery was erected by Uros I around 1252, but it was destroyed and rebuilt many times in its history. The church, dedicated to Archangel Michael, was abandoned during World War II. Following its restoration in 1998, monk Lazar Stojanović painted the frescoes; believe me, they are superb! Near the church you can still find ruins of old monastery buildings and a small graveyard (see alsohttp://montenegro-for.me/2012/08/gornja-moraca-along-the-road-mioska-savnik/
Five monasteries in the hinterland of Montenegro. Apart from these five, there are dozens of other interesting monasteries that are worth a visit. Many signposts have been placed in the last few years. I would recommend you: whenever you see the signpost of a monastery, even if it is not in your travel guide, take the risk and visit it. You will not regret it!