14 Monasteries and churches in Montenegro worthy of further exploration.

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From gravity-defying monasteries clinging to the side of a rock, to dainty Baroque churches with a front-row seat to the Bay of Kotor, read on to find a sprinkling of the many, many monasteries and churches in Montenegro that will have you picking up your jaw off the ground.

Despite being home to a mere 600.000 inhabitants, Montenegro has an impressive offering of churches and monasteries. Most of them welcoming curious visitors for hundreds of years. While the vast majority of the country adheres to Orthodox Christianity, pockets of Muslims and Catholics have settled peacefully in various parts of the country, bringing with the Roman Catholic churches and mosques.

It is tempting to spend one’s full vacation rooted to the Bay of Kotor and its many storybook villages. While they are undeniably beautiful, I truly recommend you venture out and explore at least a handful of the age-old monasteries and churches in Montenegro. The majority mentioned below can be visited in the morning, giving you ample time to get back to those magnificent beaches in the afternoon. Ready, set, let’s go and explore!


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Religion in Montenegro

By law, Montenegrins have the freedom of religion and the freedom to practice their religion. The Montenegrin Constitution protects all persons regardless of their national or ethnic origins. In practice, this means that the multi-ethnic and multi-religious society that makes up current-day Montenegro lives together peacefully.

The three main religions in Montenegro are Christian Orthodox (72%), Muslim (19%), and Catholic (3%). Within the Orthodox community, there is a further divide between Serbian Orthodox and Montenegrin Orthodox. The latter a religious non-governmental organization (NGO) which has remained noncanonical and unrecognized since its founding in 1993.

The Muslim community is made up of Slavic Muslims (Bosnians, Montenegrins) and ethnic Albanians. It is the dominant religion in the northern municipalities and the regions of Plav, Rosaje, and Ulcinj. Roman Catholics are centered around the Bay of Kotor region which is home to a large amount of ethnic Croats & Albanians.

Read more about Montenegro: Check out all my guides for Montenegro

Churches in Montenegro Budva
Holy Trinity Church Budva (left), St Ivan Church Budva (right)

Top 10 churches in Montenegro to add to your list

When driving through Montenegro, we came across a lot of churches! The bay of Kotor was punctuated with Venetian church spires, while northern and central Montenegro was home to crumbling stone churches built on hilltops, surrounded by lush vegetation and the most evocative monasteries, more on those later.

The majority of the below churches are, admittedly, in and around the Bay of Kotor. We spent a large part of our time hiking or partaking in adventure sports when we left the bay area, leaving less time to pop in and out of the various local churches. Gives us an excuse to go back!

Read More: A slow guide to the sleepy village of Perast, Montenegro

1. Church of Saint Nicholas, Perast

Location: Central Square, Perast, Montenegro
Entrance Fee: Church free // Church Museum €1 // Church spire €1 (pay in cash)
Opening Hours: 09.00 am to 17.00 pm

The village of Perast was my absolute favorite place in all of Montenegro. In fact, we ended up booking an additional few nights in the village before heading home. Perast is the size of a pocket square, yet somehow it has over 17 different churches densely packed together in the 1-kilometer-wide village.

Most of the churches date back to Venetian times (15th to 18th century) when Perast was an important outpost, defending the Venetian-ruled Bay of Kotor from the marauding Ottoman empire. Chief amongst the churches in Perast is the 17th-century Saint Nicholas church.

The unfinished Catholic church is open to the public for visitors. Inside you will find a small museum with paintings of Tripo Koklja, a local landscape painter (1661-1731). The most impressive part of the church however is the views atop the large 55-meter Baroque church spire. Clamber up the – slightly claustrophobic- staircase for unimpeded views over Perast and the rest of the Bay of Kotor.

Getting to Perast: I recommend you stay at least one night in Perast, but if that is not possible take a day tour from Kotor around the Bay of Kotor with a stop in Perast, Our Lady of the Rock Island and Budva.


Churches in Montenegro

2. Our Lady of the Rocks Church, Perast

Location: Lady of the Rocks Island in front of Perast
Getting There: Boat tour from Kotor or 10-minute boat ride from Perast Harbour (€5)
Entrance Fee: Chapel and Museum, each respectively €1
(pay in cash)
Opening Hours: 09.00 am to 17.00 pm

Without a doubt, one of the most famous churches in Montenegro! The Roman Catholic Lady of the Rocks church sits atop an artificially made islet facing the village of Perast. Constructed in the 15th century by local fishermen, who set out on a successful trip after finding an icon of the Madonna and Child on the rocks where the islet now sits.

A small museum and chapel cover 80% of the sanctuary. Both can be visited after paying the small entrance fee (in cash) at the entrance. Visitors entering the chapel are required to cover their shoulders and knees or will be barred from entering.

We took the first little boat from Perast and made it to the island at 09.10 am, at which point it was already overflowing with daytrippers from nearby Kotor. If you are looking for a slightly more peaceful experience either stay in Perast and rent a kayak (€10/hour) to go early in the morning or consider taking one of the last boat trips from Kotor out to the island.

The island in front of the Lady of the Rocks church is known as Saint George island. It has a 12th-century Benedictine Monastery and a cemetery holding the graves of wealthy Perastians of the past. Both the island and the Monastery are closed to the general public.

Take a tour: Take a budget-friendly Bay of Kotor day tour combining the Lady of the Rocks Church, Perast, Blue Cave and Mamula. This is a full-day boat tour.


3. Lady of the Rosary Church, Perast

Location: In the hills of Perast, Montenegro
Entrance Fee: Free

The very last church in Perast on this list, I promise. The Lady of the Rosary Church is nestled in the hills of Perast, between the busy Adriatic Highway of the waterfront of Perast. Together with the abovementioned Saint Nicholas Church, it dominates the skyline of the little village with a tower Baroque church spire.

Built in the 17th century by the affluent Zmajević family as their private church and chapel. The remains of Andria Zmajević are known to be buried inside the small chapel, underneath the tombstone adorned with the family crest (a dragon no less).

The little chapel can be visited, the spire however is closed to the public. What makes this tiny church worth visiting is not so much the church itself, but the scenic walk up/down. Once you reach the top of the stone steps facing the church, turn 180° to face the Bay of Kotor. If you are a fan of photography, make sure to come around sunset as the sun dips behind the little church basking the Bay of Kotor in a soft golden light.


Cathedral of the resurrection of christ Pogorica

4. The Resurrection of Christ Cathedral, Podgorica Montenegro

Location: 3 Bulevar Džordža Vašingtona, Podgorica 81000, Montenegro
Entrance Fee: Free

Opening Hours: Vary greatly, do not count on the Google opening hours.

From tiny Perast, we move to the capital, Podgorica. The Resurrection of Christ Cathedral is a Serbian Orthodox church in Montenegro. Built in 1993, and consecrated a whopping 20 years later in 2013, this Cathedral is the youngest to make our list.

Despite its youth, the expansive iconography inside and eclectic mix of intricate carvings resting atop large blocks of stone that make up the exterior is well worth a visit. When walking in, make sure to look up at the frescoes depicting Tito, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels burning in the spitfires of hell. A rather interesting decorative addition.

Truth be told, the capital of Podgorica is rather underwhelming. While the massive Cathedral is worth a visit, the rest of the city is not.


5. Holy Trinity Church in Budva

Location: Located at the heart of the historical center of Budva,
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: 08.00 am – 22.00 pm (June to Sept); 08.00 am-noon, 16.00 pm – 19.00 pm (Oct to May)

The Serbian Orthodox Holy Trinity Church dates back to the 18th century and is one of the prettiest in Budva. The terracotta-covered domed roof holds a vibrant iconostasis, painted by a Greek artist – Naoum Zetiri- in 1833. Free to the public, the small church sees an inordinate amount of visitors. We went right around sunset and found the place almost empty!

Although much of old town Budva is built in Venetian architecture, the Holy Trinity Church followed the Byzantine church of architecture – also to be found in numerous churches in Palermo. The name “Holy Trinity” is derived from the mosaic atop the entrance, depicting three angels visiting Abraham and Sarrah, found in the Old Testament.

In summer the little square next to the Holy Trinity Church comes alive with festivals, theater performances and concerts. It is also an excellent spot to grab a drink at sunset!

Photography Tip: The best views over the Holy Trinity Church in Budva are to be found from the top of the Budva Citadel (€3.5 entrance fee)

Monasteries around Budva: Looking for a few more elusive monasteries around Budva? Try a 3-hour locally run tour taking you to three monasteries in the hills around Budva.


6. Saint Michael Archangel Church, Herceg Novi

Location: Old Town Herceg Novi
Entrance Fee: Free

Opening Hours: Juna & August 08.00 am-midnight; September to May 08.00 am – 21.00 pm

This tiny Serbian Orthodox church is located in the prettiest square of Herceg Novi, Trg Herceg Stejpana or Belavista square. Built between 1883 and 1905, it is dedicated to Archangel Michael who can be seen adorning the façade in a colorful mosaic.

We visited Old Town Herceg Novi on a Sunday morning and the little church was absolutely packed to the rafters. The singing of the priests could be heard even through closed doors. We sat down for breakfast at nearby Belavista Cafe and watched locals stream out of the church after mass. Visitors wishing to step inside the church are requested to cover their shoulders and knees.

Discover Herceg Novi: Looking to delve deeper into Herceg Novi? Try a locally run private walking tour that takes you around all the highlights of Herceg Novi as well as the Savina Monastery.


Lady of Remedy Church in Kotor
Our Lady of Remedy in Kotor is the most photographed church in Montenegro

7. Our Lady of Remedy Church, Kotor

Location:  In the hills on top of the village of Kotor
Getting There: Hike from Kotor to St. John’s Fortress
Entrance Fee: Free

Our Lady of Remedy Church is a Roman Catholic Church nestled on the slopes of Saint John Mountain, atop the village of Kotor. This 16th-century church offers some of the best views over the Bay of Kotor but will make you work for it – all 650 steep steps. You might know it as the most photographed church in all of Kotor, or simply the cover of the Lonely Planet guide to Montenegro.

Our Lady of Remedy church was built to honor the Holy Mother and thank her for saving Kotor from a nasty bout of the plague. The unassuming stone church is adorned with beautiful frescoes depicting the life of the Blessed Virgin. Despite its seemingly remote location, the Church of our Lady of Remedy has been the site of a religious church since the 6th century, when it was a Christian basilica.

Hiking up to the church is best done in the early hours of the day to avoid the blistering heat. Between 08.00 am and 20.00 pm a fee of €8 ($8) is charged to access the walkway. If you embark on the hike before 08.00 am no fee is charged. The hike behind the Trg od Salate in the center of Kotor.

Explore Kotor: Learn more about Kotor through a great budget-friendly walking tour of Kotor


8. Saint Luke’s Church, Kotor Montenegro

Location: Trg Sv. Luke, Kotor 85330, Montenegro
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday 09.00 am – 19.00 pm; Saturday 08.00 am – 19.00 pm; Sunday 11.00 am – 19.00 pm

This tiny Serbian Orthodox church dates back to the 12th century and was originally built as a Catholic Church. As the Ottoman empire approached, Orthodox worshippers from nearby Grbal fled and made their way to Kotor. The church opened its doors and between 1657 and 1812 both Orthodox and Catholic worshippers were welcome in the church, it even held two different altars. It was eventually gifted to the Orthodox church in 1812.

A peek inside the dimly lit bolthole will reveal a 17th-century iconostasis in the main church and a little 18th-century iconostasis in the chapel of St Spiridon, just off the main church. The tiny little structure is one of the oldest remaining in Stari Grad (Old Town). It was built in Roman-Byzantine architecture and is still very much an active place of worship with locals darting in and out to burn a candle and say a little prayer.


9. Saint Nicholas Church in Kotor

Location: Trg Sv. Luke, Kotor 85330, Montenegro
Entrance Fee: Free

Opening Hours: 09.00 am to 17.00 pm

Located right opposite the Church of Saint Luke sits the newer, grander Serbian-Orthodox Saint Nicholas Church of Kotor. Built between 1902 and 1909 atop the remains of a Dominican monastery which was turned into army barracks when Napolean conquered the Bay of Kotor. The monastery and barracks burned down in the late 19th century.

The black domes adorning the two church spires of the Saint Nicholas church can be seen from various angles in old town Kotor. Personally, I found the outside much more evocative than the rather austere interior with its 19th-century iconostasis painted by the Czech painter Frantisek Ziegler.

Tip: Head to Pkaca od Drva (cat square). Before heading out through the gates of Kotor, turn left to see a flight of stairs. Clamber up the stairs – these are the former city walls of Kotor – to get a closer view of the black domes of the Saint Nicholas church.


Our Lady's Temple of Prčanj Montenegro
Our Lady’s Temple of Prčanj Montenegro

10. Our Lady’s Temple of Prčanj

Location: FP3X+86J, Jadranska magistrala, Prčanj, Montenegro
Entrance Fee: Free

Opening Hours: No official opening hours

The largest religious building to be found on the Adriatic Coast, yet somehow firmly off the beaten path for most tourists visiting the Bay of Kotor. Despite rigorous research, even we managed to miss this massive church when traveling around Montenegro! Yet another reason to go back.

Construction of the Baroque church started in 1789, funded by twelve wealthy local families and, later, the Austro-Hungarian government as construction dragged on for 124 years (!). An impressive staircase, lined with palm trees leads worshippers to a large terraced area in front of the church. The terrace is set 25 meters above sea level and provides scenic views over the Bay of Kotor.

Sifting through various reviews of the church it soon becomes clear that there is a lack of official opening hours and many visitors were unable to check out the interior as it was closed!


Tip: Behind of church an old pilgrims route snakes its way up to the ruins of the Old Parish Church of Prcanj.

4 Monasteries in Montenegro to discover

Leave behind the glistening Adriatic coast and head to central and northern Montenegro to see the famous, gravity-defying Ostrog Monastery, taste wine at the Savina Monastery or walk around the gardens of the Morača Monastery. The country is choc-a-bloc with monasteries, below are a few of my favorites.

1. Ostrog Monastery

Location: M2FJ+W64, Dabojevići, Montenegro
Getting there: Drive or Day tour from Kotor
Entrance Fee: Free (both entrance and parking)
Opening Hours: May to September 06.00 am – 17.00 pm; October to April 05.00 am – 16.00 pm

The 17th-century Ostrog Monastery is part of the Serbian Orthodox church, in fact, the most important site in all of Montenegro for Orthodox Christians. Dedicated to the Saint Basil of Ostrog, whose enshrined body lies in the cave-like Church of the Presentation. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed much of the original monastery in the early 20th century, the two cave-like churches of the Upper Monastery were spared, and the rest was rebuilt in 1923.

The complex itself is made up of the Lower Monastery – the Holy Trinity Church with a spring of fresh water reported to have healing benefits – and the Upper Monastery – contains the Church of the Presentation and the Church of the Holy Cross (the “cave-churches”). Many pilgrims walk the 3 kilometers up from the Lower to the Upper Monastery, some of them barefoot. It is a steep climb on slippery stairs hewn out of stone.

Upon entering the Upper Monastery, visitors and pilgrims are required to cover their shoulders and knees. We saw many women also covering their heads, although this was not obligatory. Visit the lower churches in the Upper Monastery before heading to the Church of the Presentation at the very top of the Upper Monastery. The Church of the Presentation which contains the relics is tiny, illuminated by candles, and shrouded in a thick cloud of incense. Locals put a coin in the small box next to the relics and offer a prayer.

Practical: A well-indicated car park is located between the Lower and Upper Monastery. Walk 10 minutes up varying sets of stairs. The stone steps tend to be slippery (I managed to fall and seriously bruise my back) so wear proper footwear.

Take a tour: Combine a visit to Ostrog Monastery with the Durmitor National Park and Tara Canyon in a packed day tour from Kotor.


14 Monasteries and churches in Montenegro worthy of further exploration.
Serbian Orthodox Moraca monastery in Montenegro

2. Morača Monastery in Montenegro

Location: E65, Montenegro
Getting there: Drive or three monastery day tour
Entrance Fee: Free

The 13th-century Morača Monastery is set in the beautiful eponymous canyon in northern Montenegro. The drive to the monastery was one of the most picturesque of our entire trip! Local legend has it the monastery was built from a yellow stone, quarried many kilometers away from the monastery. Devotees formed a human line and thus transported the yellow stone, one piece at a time, to build the monastery.

Tiny St Nicholas Church – decorated with gentle fading frescoes can be found right at the entrance of the garden. The second, larger, Church of the Dormition, characterized by an impressive 17th-century fresco painted by the celebrated Georgije Mitrofanovic. This very painter later went on to found a painting school in the monastery.

Walk through the thick wooden doors and you will find a colorful iconostasis, as well as the icon St Sava and St Luke, placed alongside the iconostasis. Before heading out, make sure to tour the beautiful gardens surrounding the monastery and be on the lookout for one of the four monks still residing here.
Like to below-mentioned Dobrilovina Monastery, Morača monastery is one of the few surviving monasteries in Montenegro built according to the Raška architectural school.

Practical: If you are coming via car, park in the large parking lot just off the monastery. A short 100-meter walk down the stone pathway to your left will bring you to the monastery. Be mindful when pulling out of the parking as a lot of tour buses tend to whizz in and out of the parking without paying particular attention to other drivers (we almost had an accident!)

Take a tour: Combine three beautiful monasteries in one full-day tour leaving from Budva, Podgorica or Kotor. Visit Ostrog Monastery, Morača Monastery and the Cetinje Monastery.


3. Savina Monastery, Herceg Novi

Location: FH23+VRC, Манастирска путања, Herceg – Novi, Montenegro
Getting there: 20-minute walk from Herceg Novi
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 08.00 am – 18.00 pm; Sunday 08.00 am – 12.00 pm

A mere 2 kilometers from Herceg Novi lies the picture-perfect, Serbian Orthodox Savina Monastery. The first records of the monastery date were found in 1648, although the oldest foundations date back to 1030.
The monastery is made up of three churches: Church of the Assumption, Smaller Church of Assumption (no really, that is its name), and Saint Sava church.

Saint Sava Church is set 300 meters above the larger monastery complex in a lush forested area. When we visited, the tiny church was not open to the public. The large Church of the Assumption dates back to the second half of the 18th century and is built in an eclectic mix of Baroque, Romanesque, Byzantine, and even Gothic elements. The smaller Church of the Assumption is an 11th-century unassuming little church, which sadly was also closed to the public when we visited.

If you have some time, pop into the dimly lit museum across from the large Church of the Assumption. It holds a few historical relics and treasures from the monastery. The lack of English explanation might however make it hard to discern what is on display.

Tip: The Savina Monastery itself has a little parking lot inside the gate. Alternatively drive 150 meters further to find a small public parking lot.

Get more info: Looking to delve deeper into Herceg Novi? Try a locally run private walking tour that takes you around all the highlights of Herceg Novi as well as the Savina Monastery.


14 Monasteries and churches in Montenegro worthy of further exploration.
Orthodox Dobrilovina monastery in northern Montenegro

4. Dobrilovina Monastery

Location: 2CH2+488, P4, Dobrilovina, Montenegro
Getting there: You will need a car to get here
Entrance Fee: Free

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 08.00 am to 18.00 pm; Saturday: 09.00 am to 15.00 pm

Locally known as Little Morača due to the similarities in architecture (according to the Raška architectural school), this 15th-century monastery is located in northern Montenegro at the entrance of the Tara River Canyon. Built atop the ruins of a 12th-century church in 1592 after a special Ottoman decree was issued allowing locals to rebuild their formerly ruined church.

These same Ottomans would go on to destroy the monastery in the 17th and 19th centuries, eventually burning down the living quarters in 1877. The Monastery however seems to be like the ubiquitous Montenegrin cat, it has nine lives and keeps being rebuilt. Inside the 16th century faded frescoes of Saint George – to whom the church is dedicated – have miraculously managed to survive.

Though the church technically has opening hours, you might find it closed when you try and visit. Should this be the case, knock on the door of the living quarters and ask the residing nuns to open the church for you. Make sure to dress appropriately (covered shoulders and knees) or you might receive a resounding “no” upon asking to enter.


Cathedral of Kotor
Cathedral of Kotor

Practical information for visiting monasteries in Montenegro

Montenegro is still a deeply religious country and as such many of the churches and monasteries are in fact still actively visited by worshippers. During many of our visits, we witnessed locals purchasing a small set of candles to light in front of the iconostasis while praying.

Photography in Orthodox churches and monasteries in Montenegro

Most – if not all – the churches and monasteries have a strict no-photo rule, not even without flash or a quick snap with your phone. The reason for this has nothing to do with damaging the frescoes, and more with how religion is experienced.

Within Eastern Orthodox Christianity, mysticism or the state of unity with God plays an important role. You might notice that churches are dimly lit with candles and the smell of incense is omnipresent, all of this is to enhance this very private, mystical experience.

Therefore, coming in as a photographer and taking snaps of the believers while they are praying is considered a grave violation of privacy.

Dresscode for visiting Montenegrin churches

Shoulders and knees need to be covered when stepping inside the churches and monasteries. We witnessed many local women also covering their heads with a shawl. Unlike when I visited Orthodox churches in Georgia, I was not asked to cover my head as a foreigner. Although it seemed respectful to adhere to local tradition. Therefore I always carried two shawls with me, one to cover my shoulders and another – smaller – one to tie around my head.

Opening hours to churches are fuzzy at best.

Google might tell you one thing, the reality is often a bit fuzzier. We rocked up to a few churches, only to find they were closed to the public.


MORE TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR VISITING THE BALKANS

Montenegro: A slow guide to the village of Perast
Montenegro: Everything you need to know to explore Herceg Novi
Slovenia: Daytrips from Ljubljana
Slovenia: Things to do in Lake Bled
Slovenia: Vegetarian guide to Slovenian Food
Croatia: 7-day road trip through Croatia

14 Monasteries and churches in Montenegro worthy of further exploration.
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3 Comments

  1. Travel A-Broads

    Wow! These churches are all SO beautiful and your photos are stunning. Those hillside and bay views from Our Lady of Remedy Church may be my favorite though – just incredible! Xx Sara

    Reply
  2. Kez

    I was just in Montenegro in December and saw a few of these churches. The cathedral in Podgorica was kinda trippy! There was also another strange church in Podgorica, a few kilometres from the cathedral, that had almost no windows!

    Reply
  3. Daniela

    Such beautiful photos! I’ve always wanted to visit Montenegro, but now even more.

    Reply

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Caroline Muller

Thanks for dropping in! With this blog I hope to harness the power of travel to do good in the world. Think connecting with local cultures, sustainable tourism and in-depth guides to known and lesser-known adventures. 

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