The Monastery of Ostrog is a monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church sitatued against an almost vertical background, high up in the large rock of Ostroška Greda. It is dedicated to Saint Basil of Ostrog, who was buried here. Ostrog monastery is the most popular pilgrimage place in Montenegro.
The Monastery was founded by Vasilije, the Metropolitan Bishop of Herzegovina in the 17th century. He died there in 1671 and some years later he was glorified. His body is enshrined in a reliquary kept in the cave-church dedicated to the Presentation of the Mother of God to the Temple.
The present-day look was given to the Monastery in 1923-1926, after a fire which had destroyed the major part of the complex. Fortunately, the two little cave-churches were spared and they are the key areas of the monument. The frescoes in the Church of the Presentation were created towards the end of the 17th century. The other church, dedicated to the Holy Cross, is placed within a cave on the upper level of the monastery and was painted by master Radul, who successfully coped with the natural shapes of the cave and laid the frescoes immediately on the surface of the rock and the south wall. Around the church are the monastic residences, which together with the church building and the scenery make this monument outstandingly beautiful.
The Orthodox monastery of Ostrog is one of the most frequently visited on the Balkans. It attracts over 100,000 visitors a year. It is visited by believers from all parts of the world, either individually or in groups. It represents the meeting place of all confessions: the Orthodox, the Catholics and the Muslims. According to the stories of pilgrims, by praying by his body, many have been cured and helped in lessening the difficulties in their lives.
The upper monastery houses the Church of the Presentation and the Church of the Holy Cross. Saint Basil of Ostrog's relics lie in the Church of the Presentation. Also of interest is the vine which grows out of the rock. It's said that it's a miracle because nothing should be able to grow out of the sheer rock face.
The lower monastery centers around the Church of the Holy Trinity that was built in 1824. It also makes up most of the monk residences. There are dorm rooms available for pilgrims here too.
It is traditional for pilgrims to walk the 3km from the lower monastery to the upper monastery barefoot.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.