A happy landing

Perast, as a UNESCO designated village in Montenegro, proved a perfect spot for a holiday, it was of a size to offer 'life' (and the all important wi fi enabled cafe) and yet spared either 60s 'Yugoslav' or 00s 'find a second home' 'development; and, perched beautifully on Kotor's fjord, surrounded by mountains, it embodied picturesque.

One of the unsolved questions of being there is the proliferation of churches.

This coast is where Venice met the Byzantine world (and its Slavic inheritors) so you get buildings reflecting both Catholic and Orthodox strands but the multiplicity is astonishing. Perast now has a population of a little over 500 and even allowing for a medieval doubling or even tripling of population, it was tremendously well-endowed with places to pray - two main churches were accompanied by at least seven smaller chapels (to my last day wandering count), nestling within the houses, often now shut, disused. This was replicated elsewhere.

Was it simply competition, denominational rivalry expressed in stone? A common medieval trait here happily architecturally preserved. Or in an historical vulnerable location - conflicted, shifting geo-politics and pirates too - that people fell back on the comforts of religion here more than elsewhere? Or simply that it was de rigueur of every private merchant family to have a chapel as a necessary symbol of wealth - the medieval equivalent of a suitably endowed yacht (of which we saw several)!

In any case days of swimming, reading and cooking (mostly fish) sailed by happily - and it rained seriously only as I started the car to return to the airport!


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