Praskvica Monastery

The Praskvica Monastery is one of the most beautiful among the Orthodox Medieval monasteries in Montenegro. Praskvica Monastery is Serbian Orthodox monastery in picturesque Čelobrdo fishermen village of the Adriatic coast of Montenegro, in the wonderful area of the present prominent Milocer and Przno tourist centers of Montenegro where was the summer residence of Her Royalty Serbian Queen Marija Karadjordjevic, fully surrounded with fruitful olive trees and lush fragrant Mediterranean vegetation. The Praskvica Monastery is set on the outskirts of Milocer tourist center, by Przno, on the famous Sveti Stefan tourist resort in Budva municipality in the gorgeous Adriatic coast of Montenegro.

Since its foundation the Praskvica Monastery was a spiritual and political center of the renowed Paštrovići clan. The name of the Praskvica Monastery probably comes from the natural phenomenon of the peach-scented water of the nearby spring and the air full of the peach smell, especially in spring when plenty of waters come from the mountains. The local dialect of the area features the word praska which means peach. Locals say – “drink the water from this spring and you will taste the memorable flavor of a peach”.

The legend has it that the Praskvica Monastery was founded in 1050, while the first document which records it dates from 1307. This document is a founding charter of king Stephen Uroš II Milutin of Serbia issued during his visit to Kotor in which he confirms to the Holy Trinity church the ownership over villages granted to the church by his mother Helen of Anjou.

The present complex of the Praskvica Monastery includes two inland churches with monastic cells in dormitory with a museum and four churches on the Island of Sveti Stefan. The Saint Nicholas church is the main church of the Praskvica Monastery complex, built in 1413 which was dedicated to the patron protector of the Pastrovic clan. The founding charter issued by the ruler Balsha III of the Zeta Serbian state testifies on its foundation. The Saint Nicholas church of Praskvica Monastery was erected in the Raška architectural style and used to be a single nave structure with semi-circular apse, and the shallow transept that were used as choir and tripartite belfry. The Saint Nicholas church was built of regular ashlar stone blocks and was some 20 meters long and 11 meters wide. Simultaneously when the church was completed, a small dormitory with monastic cells was built nearby. Unfortunately the original Saint Nicholas church did not survive until the present time, as it was heavily damaged in fire and plundered by French soldiers in 1812 during the Napoleon campaign. French soldiers destroyed it almost to the ground because the Serbian people sided with Russia in the war at that time which France was waging with. The Saint Nicholas church of Praskvica monastic complex was extended in comprehensive reconstruction in 1847, when only fragments of original frescoes and a part of one wall remained. It nowadays features a lovely rosette in the middle of the western façade. This is the only church in Pastrovic area with the dome decorated with shallow relief and narrow windows.

The second church of the Praskvica monastic complex was built in the 17th century on the hill and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It is tiny church, with an adjoining graveyard around it. Frescoes of great artistic value of the Holy Trinity church of the Praskvica Monastery were painted by master painter Radul in 1681. The gilded iconostasis is artwork of the famous painter Dmitrije Daskal. The fresco in the dome differs from the usual depiction of Jesus Christ. Here there are painted scenes of the Holy Trinity with the Christ on the throne in the middle, where Christ is depicted as an old man with gray hair and beard who represents the Lord, and in between them is pigeon, which represents the Holy Spirit.

The Museum of the Praskvica Monastery contains rich library and collection of valuable icons, liturgical vessels and and artistic items, old manuscripts and documents, such are parts of the iconostasis of the original Saint Nicholas church and the icon of the Holy Virgin with Christ that belongs to the Italian-Crete school from the 17th century and shines with unknown beauty. A handwritten Gospel manuscript encircled in silver sides is kept here and legend has it that it was gifted in 1600 by the Montenegrin Prince Danilo to the Pastrovic clan. Very interesting for visitors is the large stone table called “bankada” that was used for centuries in Pastrovic judgement tradition. It was once in a month that important local issues were discussed here, like economic questions or introduction of new laws. There was a company of four judges, two dukes and 12 local noblemen, who represented each member of the Pastrovic clan. It was in 1929 when the bankada justice court was last time performed here.

There are four churches on the Sveti Stefan Island/resort that also belong to Praskvica Monastery complex. One of them was destroyed by the communists during World War II, and was later in 1960 turned into a casino and a terrace of the famous and world-known luxury hotel resort. The remaining churches on the island of Sveti Stefan are the Church of the birth of the Holy Virgin, the church of Transfer of the Relics of the Holy Protomartyr Stephen, and the Church of Christ Transfiguration and the Church of Saint Alexander Nevsky.

If you want to take a wonderful and memorable walk through the nature, you can use the trail called the Yegor road which climbs the Celobrdo hill, right above the Saint Trinity church of the Praskvica Monastery. There is tiny path leading from the old graveyard passing by two high cypresses, reaching the new graveyard. There is a large stone gate through which you should continue to starts the trail through the forest up to the peak from where your breath stops.

This lovely tiny trail with stone stairs leads from the Praskvica Monastery to the Celobrdo Hill and down towards the Przno beach reminding us of a touching legend on its construction. This tiny road climbing to the top of one of the best peaks of Sveti Stefan was tirelessly and persistently built with his one hand out of stone by monk Yegor Stroganov. Locals used to call him “Rus”/a Russian/ although he probably was of the Polish origin. However, when Yegor left his homeland to become a monk, he left his wife and daughter. After death of her mother daughter regretted for her behavior and decided to find her father. The young woman run away from home and her father set off to faraway Montenegro to dedicate his life to prayers and hard labor. After many years of searching, she found him in the Praskvica Monastery. For her great wish to stay close to her father and God, she dressed up as a monk and settled in the Praskvica monastery. She devoted her life for prayers and vow of silence, and revealed a secret only before her death. Since then local monks have been taking care of a modest tomb with only one inscription that reads ‘Yegor and Yelizaveta Stroganovy’.

The Jegor Road is stone road built by a monk Jegor Stroganov, a one-handed hermit who lost his hand in a duel with a Russian captain whom he rivalled and killed for seducing his daughter Jeliaveta. Due to this murder, monk Jegor spent 10 years in crashing the stone with his one hand in order to build a road from the Praskvica monastery high up to the village of Celobrdo in the coast of Montenegro. The name of Jegor Stroganov entered the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and locals of the Celobrdo village put a memorial marble plaque with the following words: Russian monk Jegor Stroganov built a road from the sea up to this place in 10 years, in the beginning of the 19th century.

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