One morning I woke up and immediately to my mind came the strange dream I had that night. I was dreaming that I was going through a forest full of animals in a bus. At first I thought there were no animals, like the bus was safe, but then the shadows of those animals became visible to me. The bus closed the doors and drove uphill until we arrived on the top of the hill and I knew that we came to a monastery. It was like you know things in dreams – totally illogical and intuitive.
So when I woke up and turned on my laptop the first thing that popped on the screen (facebook) was a tour to the Ostrog monastery. I tell you I sat frozen looking at it – it resembled my dream so much! It felt like a path given to me in my dream. I am always so glad to have these kind of dreams. Although they are rare they give me a feeling of relief that I am still on the right path in life.
I will digress a little and write down one of the most memorable dreams of this kind that I had in my life. I was coming back from a vacation where I had a wonderful time. It was so good that it actually hurt coming back home. It was such deep pain, almost like a feeling of despair. It was one of the strongest feelings I have ever felt in my life. Maybe all things piled up and peaked in me on the day I was dragging the luggage back to my room.
In one of the following nights I had this dream: an angel with big white wings hugged me from behind, I could not see the angel, I just knew it was one. It gave me such warmth, wrapped around me such a feeling of love. I can’t really explain how warm and supporting and loving it felt. It’s a dream I will never forget. And it did help me in overcoming my sadness in the following days.
So back to my monastery dream – I made the decision that I was going to take the tour. I called the agency and the the biggest shock was the fact that we had to sleep out in the open! And it was end of the March – not the warmest weather. The temperature could easily go below 0 Celsius at night! I really needed a few days of thinking to finally accept it.
How To Get To Ostrog Monastery
My Ostrog monastery tour was with a bus and one night sleep over at the monastery. One weekend in days duration.
If you wonder where is Ostrog monastery then you need to know that it is near Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro. It’s one hour drive to Podgorica max.
But the trick is that the monastery is very high and built in rocks so the very last part of the road is not available for a bus. You can walk by foot – and there were people walking bare foot literally to the top. It’s about half an hour by foot from the last point where cars are allowed. Luckily for me there were these mini buses, one way ticket costing 1 euro. If you are afraid of heights, like me, this will probably not be the most pleasant ride in your life. I was holding my breath at moments.
The last part of the road is very narrow so it is very hard for 2 cars to go by each other if this kind of situation happens.
Ostrog Monastery Entrance Fee
This is the entrance to the monastery, you can see there are cars parked to the very entrance so if you plan to go by car it is possible. There is no fee whatsoever to go inside the monastery when I visited – March 2017.
Ostrog Monastery Entrance
Here you can see more of the beautiful 3 crosses on the entrance. Made in clean white stone, shining bright in the day sunlight. You can also see the religious images painted on the inside of the main arch.
The three crosses photographed from inside of the monastery and at dawn. Such a beautiful sight for the eyes and the soul.
The inside of the arch is lighted at night. As the monastery is pretty high in the mountain without light it would be extremely dark.
I forgot to mention that the toilets were like 2 minutes walk below (not very pleasant I must say) so the place really needed such strong light. The path to the toilets is lighted and people were all over the place so it was not very scary (at least it didn’t feel scary to me but there were women who felt the other way). I would suggest you carry your mobile phone with you just in case.
Speaking of mobiles my battery for some reason simply drained surprisingly fast and I was left practically with no communication device! Believe me you don’t want this to happen to you on a mountain among strangers. Inside the monastery there was a kitchen with electricity where you could recharge your phone but it was very crowded. In the rooms there were also plugs for charging phones but people were kind of nervous and possessive. I managed to recharge to about 45%.
Ostrog Monastery Day Trip
Immediately after the arrival we went to the main part where the mummified saint was laying. You can see the clear whiteness of the building built in solid rock. When the sun hits it it is truly a divine sight.
On the way up, while waiting on the stairs I felt such a need to cry and I started shaking mildly. Maybe it was the great beauty of the place, maybe I felt something so pure that made me want to cry. There were people all around me so I managed to control myself, maybe only a tear or two appeared in my eyes.
The Ostrog Monastery Stay
Here is a closer look of the main part of the monastery where the saint lays. The place where he lays is a tiny hole in the rock, and he is all covered in a shred. There is a priest guiding you on what to do inside.
The gifts you are advised to bring: a pair of male socks as the legend says that the saint walks at night so he tears up his socks and needs new ones constantly. People were also bringing oil, coffee and sugar.
I carried sugar cubes which are believed that when passed near the saint Vasilij Ostroski they become sacred and can help with health.
On the way down there is a small shop of souvenirs and a place where you write down the names of the ones you are praying for – the living and the dead. No need to carry pen and paper – it is all provided there but you can write your prayers prior to the visit if you want to.
Ostrog Monastery Camping
After the praying we started preparing our “bedrooms”. The monastery provides futons and blankets – you won’t believe how many blankets they have, piles upon piles. Two of the women did not plan to sleep outside but since everyone was up in the front yard for the night they also decided to spend the night outside. Each got 8 blankets and there were a lot of people sleeping outside – and still the blankets were not exhausted.
I was so glad I brought my sleeping bag! Curled inside I did not feel any cold except on my face since I had to breathe.
Here is the start of the “accommodation in our rooms”. There is tap water available but I was advised by the agency not to drink it. Lots of people used it though.
There were prayers going on all day long through speakers and they were so calm to listen to. Exhausted from the 10 hour bus driving it felt so good to lay in the sun and listen to the kind words.
Ostrog Monastery Dress Code
When visiting the saint women must cover their hair and wear a dress. The woman on the left is correctly dressed.
Ostrog Monastery Sleep
There is not much to do there except pray and the place is very small. I would not advise carrying a book or any kind of entertainment. The place is great for meditation and following your own thoughts.
You can see how crowded it got at night. The darkness came at about 6 o’clock so we all crawled inside our “beds”. Talking ourselves to sleep, although it was hard to really fall asleep until midnight. And it was really cold, luckily my sleeping bag was a great cold protector.
The main ceremony was very early, starting at 6 in the morning and everybody was up as early as 5 in the morning. Yes, it was tough love right there :).
Ostrog Monastery Guesthouse
The majority of the people slept outside but if you prefer a room there are a few available. Each has about 50 beds stacked by three in height. When I checked them I felt almost claustrophobic. But if you go with kids they will be your first choice for sure.
Ostrog Monastery Fountain With A Beautiful Religious Painting Above It
The morning was so so cold! The fog caused my sleeping bag to get all wet on the outside (it is waterproof) so at first I thought someone spilled water on me while I was sleeping.
This is the low part of the monastery where accommodation in rooms is also available. Nobody in our group slept down here.
This is a local house in the lower part of the monastery.
Little church in the small park in the lower part of the monastery.
After the monastery visit we went shopping! I think it’s a bad choice to mix this shopping part in a tour to a religious place but such was the tour. And the contrast was truly great: the shopping mall felt so good to the body but so empty for the soul while the monastery was harsh for the body but felt so good to the soul, so fulfilling and somehow liberating.
If you have a chance do visit the Ostrog monastery, I highly recommend it. You will feel closer to God and reconnect with the true meaning and values in life.