Montenegro is a country I didn’t know ANYTHING about.
And when I say nothing….I really mean NOTHING.
It was never on my bucket list. I never gave this area of the world a second thought.
And when it showed up on our ports of call list for this Mediterranean cruise, part of me just wanted to skip it, and Croatia, and get straight to Venice and Rome where all of the “Good stuff” is.
I was wrong. I was oh so wrong! Kotor Montenegro is a beautiful place centered around a quaint medieval village with a rich heritage and the history loving person within me sang out as soon as we passed this little onion-domed church sitting alone on its little islet as we made our way in to the bay.
This is a magical place!
Welcome to Kotor, Montenegro!
Kotor, first mentioned in 168 BC, was settled during Ancient Roman times.
It’s also known as the city of cats!
And we saw many!
Entering through the front gate.
Inside the walled city!
Mary Ellen and I were on our own, eager to explore. And as we looked high up the mountain we noticed a little chapel….and a long pilgrimage of people heading up that way. Were we in the mood for a hike up a mountain? You betcha! We wanted to reach that church, no matter what it took. And on our way we found breathtaking views that got better and better with each climb.
And up we went!
Our Lady of Health Church was built half way up St. John's Hill (after numerous plague epidemics) in about the 1500's. It is believed to have miraculous healing powers. From here the views speak for themselves. Healing powers? You betcha! Who cannot feel better after seeing these views?
This chapel was built in thanks to Our Lady by survivors of the plague in 1518. It's almost half way up the climb to the Fortress of Sveti Ivan, or St John.
Today, it is what it is: a votive church (buy a candle and say a prayer). Very informal and very personal. Locals wander in and out, saying a quick prayer, depositing their offering, and hoping for the best. (as we all do.) Drop a little coin in the box, increase your odds for a healthy life. Cover all the bases.
The moment that made me stop to realize and be grateful for all I have? There is a spot half way up where water is 1.50 euro. At a resting spot, a man passed us carrying on his back and in his arms bundles of bottled water amounting to 70 kilos in weight (I asked him!) He does this job every day, sometimes twice a day, carrying bottled water up the mountain to sell to the privileged tourists, myself included.
Inside Our Lady of Health.
Because this is located on a difficult (at best) path, it does not get the foot traffic of the hordes of tourists but it is so worth the trip just to connect with locals on a level that is both personal and inspirational to them and, with any luck, with us tourists as well.
The best rewards are on the paths less traveled.
We visited with a man selling trinkets outside of the church. I’m coming home with a pair of earrings I fell in love with as my memento of climbing up to where the church is. we didn’t continue further up to the fort. The cloudless skies left us with blazing sun and we hiked back down to town in search of some other corners of Kotor to explore...and find some lunch!
In the slide show below you will find the beginning of our day..from pulling in to port, entering the gates, what we found inside, all the way to the church on the mountain.
The rest will be saved for another post!
What a wonderful place!
And there is more to show because we toured a couple more churches, wandered around more, just trying to take it all in!
As this posts we are just pulling into Venice, Italy! It’s 2pm, we’ve had a morning workshop full of hand stitching and fun and we are ready to get out and explore.
Quiltville quote of the Day!
Knock out the self-doubt and get down to it! Our creativity increases by DOING! Vintage quilt top from my collection.
Have a great Monday, everyone!