Perast (Perasto) is often described as southern Europe's maritime capital, because so many of its mariners settled here. These mariners established Perast's nautical school, which educated some of czarist Russia's finest admirals. Perast is located in one of the bay's most coveted spots, the fjord between Risan and Kotor. Perast huddles against the Dinaric Alps and serves as a romantic backdrop to the two monasteries just off its pristine coast.

Perast's many churches

Perast owes its uniqueness to its abundant natural beauty, its human ingenuity, and its respect for craft and culture. The town boasts sixteen Baroque palaces, seventeen Catholic churches, two Orthodox churches, A church in Perast and, on average, about 240 days of sunshine per year. It also happens to be the Bay of Kotor's most ancient settlement. Perast's greatest boom occurred during the 18th century, when its mariners employed four active shipyards with a fleet of approximately 100 ships deployed throughout the world.

Unlike most cities and towns in this part of the world, Perast is not surrounded by walls. Instead, nine towers (cardaci) protected the town's citizens. The most significant is the Holy Cross Tower that the Venetians constructed between the 15th and 16th centuries. Perast is uniquely positioned at the entry of the Verige Pass into the Risan Bay, where few foreign ships could enter the inner fjord without Perast's ancient defenses mounting a response.

Island of St. George

St. George and Our Lady

Today, Perast is a hotspot for fine dining (especially seafood), sun bathing, boating, and pleasant repose. Several restaurants serve local specialties within the courtyards of the historical palaces. One of these, the Bujovic Palace, now serves as Perast's Maritime Museum. Several local sailors also offer tours of the islands just off the coast. One of these, the island of St. George, provides visitors with spectacular views of the bay, as well as tours of its centuries old Roman Catholic monastery.

Our Lady of the Rock

The other island is home to Our Lady of the Rock (Gospa od Škrpjela). This Roman Catholic church sits on the only known man-made island in the eastern Adriatic. Our Lady of the Rock Legend has it that Perast's citizens began building the island in 1452, after two sailors found a rock with a picture of the Virgin Mary on it. This miracle inspired Perast's villagers to toss individual stones into the sea for a period of over 550 years, along with 87 sunken ships overloaded with ballast, and consecrate the church that was completed in 1632. The church is notable for thousands of artifacts, but perhaps most impressive is the church's beautiful artwork, painted by the region's celebrated seventeenth century artist, Tripo Kokolja.

Perast's nature, culture and history present many opportunities for travelers all year round. Perast hosts a number of summer festivals, most notably July 22nd, when Perast's citizens form a convoy of wooden boats loaded with rocks to further bolster their island's foundations in the heart of the fjords.