Ostrog Monastery – a historical wonder that will take your breath away. This pearl of Montenegrin spirituality, a miracle of nature and human work, enchants thousands of pilgrims and visitors. This monastery complex preserves the memory of Saint Vasilije and is one of Europe’s most visited Orthodox shrines. Many of you have almost certainly heard about this sacred site and many miracles related to its centuries-old history. So, let’s start with the origins of its distinctive name.
The name “Ostrog” comes from an older form of the Serbian word oštar/oštri, which means sharp. This is one of the forgotten adjectives that the old Slavs generally used to denote important geographical-historical and ecclesiastical-historical elevations of its existence.
Perched on a massive rock formation called “Ostroška greda,” the monastery sits an impressive 900 meters above sea level in the municipality of Danilovgrad. It’s just a short drive from the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, and only 15 kilometers from the bustling city of Nikšić.
Visiting the Ostrog Monastery is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that you won’t soon forget. So why not pack your bags and come see this incredible site for yourself? You won’t be disappointed!
Bishop Vasilije (Basil) built the monastery in the 17th century. He came from Herzegovina while looking for a suitable place where he would lead his ascetic life. (However, according to some sources, the Monastery was built much earlier, around 859.) He was also looking for an enclosed site protected from the constant attacks from the Ottomans. St. Vasilije chose this place to build a monastery that would become his resting place. He died in 1671, and shortly after, he was canonized. His relics rest in the Upper Monastery at the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Complex of the Ostrog Monastery
The Monastery comprises several sections. The Upper Monastery, or Gornji Manastir, consists of two churches. The Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the church dedicated to the Holy Cross. This segment of the monastery is a true masterpiece of architecture, as it arises straight from the rock. To reach it, you need to climb a 3-kilometer-long narrow path. The Monastery’s inaccessibility was particularly important during history, as numerous historical and heroic events happened at this holy site.
The history of the Ostrog Monastery is filled with tales of bravery and heroism – like the infamous “Nine Bloody Days” campaign of 1853. During this time, the Ottoman Empire attempted to take over the Upper Monastery, but the Montenegrin duke Mirko Petrović and his seventeen comrades stood strong, defending the monastery for an incredible nine days against a much larger army.
To keep the Monastery from falling into enemy hands, the ruler of Montenegro at the time ordered the evacuation of the Monastery and the burning of the bridge leading to it. Thanks to their heroic efforts, the soldiers managed to preserve most of the Monastery’s cultural and historical treasures, including the relics of St. Vasilije.
It’s amazing to think about the bravery of those who fought to defend the Ostrog Monastery all those years ago. So if you visit this incredible site, take a moment to appreciate the sacrifices that were made to protect it and the incredible history that’s been preserved for future generations to enjoy.
The Church of the Holy Trinity constitutes the central part of the Lower Monastery or Donji Manastir. This church was the endowment of Archimandrite Josif Pavićević of Ostro in 1824. As for the cultural and historical value of the Lower Monastery, it also has a special role. In 1942, the patriots of Montenegro and Boka held an assembly here at the Monastery. They made some important decisions regarding the further struggle against the occupiers and the organization of a new national government.
Today’s look at Ostrog Monastery
Today’s look at the Monastery dates from the reconstruction period from 1923-1926. Before that, a fire ruined and burned most of the Monastery. However, two small cave churches stayed intact. Their walls embody breathtaking frescos of St. Vasilije’s life.
The most valuable preserved antiquities are the frescoes in the cave church of the Holy Cross at the top of the Upper Monastery and The Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint Vasilije – Ostrog’s Miracle Worker
St. Vasilije was believed to have miraculous power. Moreover, many stories circulated among the Montenegrins about his relics’ miracles and healing powers. Certainly, the most interesting story is about the experiences of US Senator William Bill Barr. His wife, an American psychiatrist of Montenegrin origin, wrote down the story of her husband’s pilgrimage to the Monastery Ostrog.
The Miracles of Saint Vasilije
In 1970, a senator survived an assassination attempt that left him in excruciating pain and missing one of his legs. His pain was causing him more problems than he could handle. But one night, he had an unusual dream that gave him hope.
In the dream, he climbed up to a high rock where he saw a small white church with an old man standing in front of it. The man had a long white beard and hair and spoke to him in an unknown language. The man led him through the church, healing sick people with his touch.
It’s incredible to think about the power of this dream and how it gave the senator hope in a time of great pain and suffering. It just goes to show that sometimes, even in our darkest moments, we can find light and healing in unexpected places.
Imagine finding a cure for your pain in the most unexpected way possible – that’s exactly what happened to a US Senator. He came across a picture of the icon of St. Vasilije of Ostrog and was intrigued to learn more about the saint and the monastery.
In 1980, the Senator traveled to Montenegro with a group of people who had also suffered amputations. His goal was to lead an ascetic life and learn to pray in Serbian. He spent his days at the Upper Monastery, praying daily and feeling a powerful force within him. He described his time there as something that can’t be put into words – it’s something you have to experience for yourself.
During his stay in Montenegro, something incredible happened – the Senator’s pain began to decrease until he was completely pain-free. He credits the healing power of St. Vasilije of Ostrog and the energy of the Upper Monastery for his incredible transformation.
It’s amazing to think about how a simple picture can lead to such a life-changing experience. So if you’re searching for healing and spiritual renewal, consider a visit to the Ostrog Monastery and see what kind of miracles might be waiting for you.
As days passed, the Senator continued praying, and the pain in his body slowly started decreasing until he was pain-free. He returned to the US with a built-up faith and many icons of St. Vasilije of Ostrog.
There are many other similar unbelievable stories about ill and injured people being cured or healed while visiting the Monastery and the holy relics of St. Vasilije.
Pilgrimage to the Ostrog Monastery
Every year, on the May 12th day of his repose, thousands of people worldwide visit this holy site. They all have the same goal: to pray to St. Vasilije for a much-needed miracle. The pilgrimage lasts a few kilometers from the Lower Monastery to the Upper Monastery. Finally, when the pilgrims reach the Upper Monastery, they usually sleep outside the night.
The name of St. Vasilije is pronounced with special respect and standing up. When mentioning the saint’s name, the person should cross himself, saying, “Glory to him and grace.”
How to reach Ostrog Monastery
Ostrog Monastery itself is visited not only during major spiritual holidays. The monastery is open daily for visitors from 6 am to 5 pm from May to September and 5 am to 4 pm the rest of the year. Entry to the monastery is free – but a donation is advisable.
Plenty of beds on the monastery property are available to anyone who wants to spend the night in Ostrog – separated for me and women (it is a monastery after all!) at a very reasonable price. And if there are no free beds, you can spend the night in the central square of the Monastery.
There is no direct public transportation to Monastery Ostrog. With this in mind, you can take a taxi from Nikšić, Podgorica, or any other coastal town at a reasonable price of 20 -30 euros. Additionally, many agencies organize daily trips and excursions to the Monastery, so you can consider that option.
When traveling alone, there are two ways to get from Kotor to Ostrog Monastery. The first is around the Bay of Kotor via Risan, then uphill to the road from Trebinje to Nikšić. Another way is traveling from Kotor to Lovćen, then driving via Njegošev vrh and Danilovgrad to Ostrog.
Getting to the monastery from Podgorica is relatively easy, just taking the main road leading to Nikšić.