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Guide to Ostrog Monastery and Lake Piva

{lg_Posted} 08.31.2019, {lg_by}

We are heading up north! Grab your rent a car keys and follow us to the Ostrog Monastery and astonishing Lake Piva!

Guide to the Ostrog Monastery and Lake Piva


What a fine Saturday afternoon!

As we are saying our goodbyes to the month of August (and many places in Europe are saying goodbye to the summer), you will find our newest Guide from the Road Trip through Montenegro series accompany you during your brunch hours, or simply as you are sipping coffee or tea. Your actual location is rather irrelevant at the moment since the Guide asks a very simple thing - during the next 5 minutes, follow us on our travels to Ostrog Monastery and Piva Lake. We guarantee a well-spent time.

Here we go!

Surely you know the routine by now, take one last view, check your bags, grab the keys of your Terrae Car - trusted rent a car in Montenegro, and off we go to the next stop on our Road Trip itinerary list.

Put some great music in your rent a car while you are driving away from all those memories you’ve made at the Skadar Lake. Now, just as we are on the last few miles of the road that leads from Podgorica to Danilovgrad, it is safe to roll down the windows. The incoming fresh air from the surrounding mountains is a bliss, as you cruize through the old road that leads from Danilovgrad to Nikšić. Yes, we are headed to the Ostrog Monastery.

Arrival at the Monastery Ostrog

Monastery Ostrog Montenegro

We presume you have by now stopped many times along to narrow road to enjoy the view and take photos. After having arrived, we advise you to park your car at the provided parking and continue to the Upper Monastery on foot.

Although it is a steep road ahead of you, the distance is meagre and we are sure you will enjoy the experience. Notice that you do not need to hike up to the Upper Monastery via the road constructed for cars. Rather, there is a special path designed for those who walk up.

A few facts on the Ostrog Monastery

Facts on the Ostrog Monastery

  1. Ostrog Monastery was built in the cliffs above Bjelopavlici Plain of Montenegro.
  2. It was founded by Saint Basil in 1600s and it is dedicated to him.
  3. His remains are apparently still in the monastery and it’s to him that many people come to pray. It is believed that he can cure illnesses or ease the hardships of a difficult life.
  4. Each year, more than a hundred thousand people make the pilgrimage to Montenegro’s Ostrog Monastery, along a long and winding road and then up a mountain.
  5. The subtle splendour of the monastery lies in the fact that all three major religions: Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic and Muslim consider this a holy place. They all believe that the relics of Saint Basil bring miracles for all who believe and have faith.
  6. There are many documented miracles linked to this place. Maybe the most (internationally) famous one is of the ex American Senator William Bill Barr that occurred in the 70s- 80s of the 20th century.
  7. It is open to all people at any time of day or night.

A short history of the Monastery Ostrog

history of the monastery ostrog

The tale says that St Basil began building the upper monastery with three caves in the rock. You can see all of these when you visit the Monastery.  His intentions for the first cave was to build the Church of the Presentation,  a bedroom for guests in the second cave, while the third cave will be turned in to a chapel which would hold the religious artefacts. 

St Basil built a house for monks by the church below the monastery, along with the wheat milling.

Until his death in 1671, St Basil continued extending the monastery. After his death, abbot of St Luke Monastery had a dream about St Basil, where he was ordered to visit Ostrog and open St Basil's grave. Sceptical at first, the abbot did nothing, but upon dreaming the same dream for 3 times, he informed the monastery about his premonitions and went to Ostrog.

Upon his arrival, he fasted and prayed for seven days. After the seventh day passed, the grave was opened. 

Once the grave was opened, they found that the body of St Basil was perfectly preserved up and a pleasant aroma of basil spread. St Basil's body was transferred to the Church of the Presentation, which is where it still lies to this day.


When to visit the Ostrog Monastery

when to visit the Ostrog Monastery

It is best to avoid important Saint days like the 12th of May when it is the Saint Day of St Basil. Also, you would do good to arrive as early as you can in order to avoid bigger crowds and be able to truly enjoy this wonderful place.

There is now the opportunity to spend the night at the monastery with an adjacent building that was created in the same style. Only a bed, blanket and pillow are available in the humble rooms, but the secret advice of the priest is also available.


Customs of the Monastery

customs of the ostrog monastery

Upon your arrival, you will notice that there are many customs taking place.

Don’t be surprised if you see people walking from the lower monastery to the upper barefoot or on their knees – this is also a common tradition.

Pilgrims who arrive at Ostrog write prayers for St Basil which will be read aloud at the monastery by the priests during the liturgy.

You might have noticed that lighting candles for the living and the dead is a practice in orthodox churches. In Ostrog, there is a special room for lighting the candles. Please note that you can light and place your candle on either side of the room. One side is for the living, while the other side is for the dead.

If you see people taking small bottles of water, note that it’s also a tradition of taking some holy water connected to this place. Upon your arrival to the upper Monastery, once you pass through the gate, there is a tap on your left-hand side. There you gan drink the fresh mountain water and fill your bottle. 

In order to enter the Monastery, you need to wear a long skirt, trousers or jeans. Your shoulders have to be covered, a t-shirt would be fine. You'll see some women covering their heads with a scarf, but know that it’s not required, although you can do it should you wish to. 

Next stop: Piva Lake

Lake piva montenegri

As soon as you are ready to leave the magnificent Monastery, we are heading up north along the highway from Nikšić, and at last leaving the central part of the country.

We are not quite certain if you have had a chance to hear about the Lake Piva before, but we assure you it is worth a trip. At worst it will not leave you indifferent. At best, you will want to come back again.

First few facts about the lake. Located in the northwest part of the country, in Plužine Municipality, and it represents a natural reservoir of Montenegro.

Lake Piva is the artificial lake is the result of the construction of Mratinje Dam on the Piva river.

In order to acquire a new source of electrical power, the government has decided to build a dam in the 60s. The old town of Plužine was therefore flooded and now lies on the bottom of the lake.

Besides the town, there was also Piva Monastery. The new location of the monastery is 8 km from Plužine, and 3.5 km away from the original location of the monastery. The relocation has started in 1969 and finished in 1982.

Road to lake piva

The area around Piva lake is comprised of more than 20 small villages that are ideally positioned inside the natural environment. The villages have the old-style architecture, typical of the traditional Katuns. Should you wish to learn about the old traditions, culture and history of this part of Montenegro, all you need to do is ask. Speak to the inhabitants and ask them about the history and the customs of the area, and you will discover wondrous tales and learn a lot about this part of northern Montenegro.

What to do at Lake Piva

what to do at lake piva

Once you arrive at Lake Piva we recommend you go on a cruise on Piva lake. We can assure you that the boat ride offers a serene day on a lake, in an astonishing environment, with beautiful views and calming fresh air.

On the boat tour, you will discover the Komarnica canyon, Cave Otesa, Podvodje, island Gradac and beautiful sights that Piva lake offers and can only be seen and reached from the water. 

piva monastery montenegro

After the boat cruise make sure you visit Piva Monastery that had all of its original frescoes. The story goes on to say that each stone of the Monastery was marked and one by one transferred to the new location.

Take a moment to enjoy Piva Lake

enjoy piva lake

After a long and exhausting day, we believe you deserve to watch the sunset over the Lake Piva at one most liked spots (with a reason!) in Plužine - The Guesthouse Zvono.

The guesthouse Zvono is a great place to stop and try their own brew of brandy - rakia, have a delicious dinner and spend a night.

Tomorrow, when you wake up with a breathtaking view of the lake and a tasty, traditional and homemade breakfast waiting for you, you’ll welcome us for the tip!

Well, five minutes are up. It is time to ‘wake up’ from our tour through Montenegro, and at last book your travel to this wonderful country.


See you soon!

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