Long venerated for its renowned healing powers, this impressive building is suspended from a sheer cliff face.

Ostrog monastery Montenegro by Dima_Rogozhin, Shutterstock

The monastery was built – somehow – in the 17th century, by Vasilije Jovanović, Metropolitan of Western Herzegovina. Later he was to become Sv Vasilije (St Basil), and he never left. The saint’s darkened bones may be visited in their sepulchral chapel, watched over by a black-robed, pigtailed monk. This chapel and another higher up, linked by a series of caves, narrow passageways and staircases, are decorated with paintings by the Serbian master artist Radul. The atmosphere is intense. Believer or not, tread softly. Beside the monastery is the konak (night quarters), a peaceful resting place for pilgrims and visitors alike, offering dormitory beds (separate men’s and women’s; €).

Cracks and crevices are filled with coins and folded notes beseeching help. In the Orthodox Church such financial offerings are discouraged, but the desperate ignore this. In a draughty corner, on a high wooden balustraded ledge, a vine grows strongly. They will tell you that no other vine has been known to thrive in such a disadvantaged position. It is also claimed there has never been an accident on the approach road. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the main road beyond.

(Photo: © Dima_Rogozhin, Shutterstock)

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