What better way to spend a day of summer than driving through the mountains and dreaming about a monastery where you can recover your strengths before continuing to explore a great country?
This is how I started the drive to the Ostrog monastery, which is to be found at 2000 metres altitude and when you take a trip like this, you learn quickly it’s not hard to pray when you feel the danger. At anyone.
We left the main road to Niksic and entered a forest road. As usually, on their mountain roads, there is only a lane, the are holes everywhere, there are no fences and suddenly in front of you, cars are coming. I am a bit amazed thinking they must have missed their return road, but my hopes are high and I believe I won’t share a lane with the opposite cars for long.
Slowly and painfully I realized there is only one access road to Ostrog, the one I was driving. Besides the cars coming from the opposite direction, the road offered another challenge. As you drive up the mountain, trying to avoid the cars which appear after every corner, you will notice a big gap at your right and there are no fences, of course. When you return from the monastery, it is better, you have the rocks to the right and you just scratch the car at most, you don’t go into the gap. If you get the chance to return…
One of the highlights of that day was when, from the opposite direction, a bus full of tourists appeared. Each of us stopped. We looked at each other as if we were trying to measure our forces. David and Goliath in action. Since it was difficult for him to get back, I did so, but I was careful to place the car to the left, next to the rocks and I let him pass having the gap on his left side.
When the tourists saw they are on the edge, they simply got off the bus and walked by me. They got back on the bus as soon as it passed that narrow part of the road.
After a while, we arrived into a large parking and I really thought that we made it.
As you can see in the photo above, till the monastery above my head, there was still some driving to do. But, at that moment, I was so nervous and angry about the difficulty of the road that I simply couldn’t carry on.
Half an hour later, as I walked around the area, I decided to continue, thinking: „If I managed to get here, I will get to that damn monastery no matter what!”
Now, I must specify that the last section of the road means a winding road, with some tight curves of almost 180 degrees. Great! I opened all the windows, I stopped the AC and just before starting, my luck has struck. A serious looking gentleman, bald, 2 meters tall and solid as a rock was driving a small minibus taking the tourists (that survived until then) to the monastery. Besides the above-mentioned qualities, he also seemed to be a little crazy.
His driving style was quite simple. He tried to go up as soon as possible, without using the car brakes in excess, if not at all. As I always appreciate men of high deeds, I followed his minibus closely trying not to stop when meeting another car and we got up in no more than 10 minutes. The cars we met were trying desperately to stop as close as possible to the rocks or to the gap on the other side of the road.
And so, helped by God (and a madman), we arrived at the Ostrog monastery.
When we got there, we didn’t simply enter the monastery, we first had to wait at a long queue of tourists and pilgrims.
Finally, at the entrance, there could enter only a single person. As you entered, you had to take a little tour closely supervised by some serious looking monks, kiss a few icons and relics (as in any Orthodox Christian church), and then you could go farther. From what I noticed, it didn’t seem to be optional.
When I returned to Romania, I found out that the relics we kissed belonged to the saint Vasile from Ostrog, the most important saint of the Serbs, but at that moment I was so happy that I managed to get there, that I could kiss anything.
How can I get to the Ostrog monastery?
To get to the wonderful road that takes you (or not) to the Ostrog monastery, you first need to arrive in Podgorica and then turn right to Niksic. You won’t arrive in Niksic, at some moment you will turn right to Ostrog.
In case you managed to arrive to the Ostrog monastery, please let me know how was your trip.