View on Perast with the Sveti Nikola church at the Bay of Kotor, 23rd of July 2014

Halfway the breathtaking Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, your eyes will be caught by Perast and the tiny islands with its monasteries just offshore. The riva with its bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops reveal that it is not the hidden gem it once was, but a gem it still is! When we passed Perast for the first time in 2004 we did not even stop here but ended up at the opposite site of the Bay in Stoliv. Over the years we kept coming back, but it took me till 2018 to make the photo Kurt Hielscher made in 1926. Over the past decades the population of Perast shrank to less than 300 inhabitants.

Crkva Gospa od Ružarije, Perast, Montenegro. 

Photo: Kurt Hielscher, 1926

Crkva Gospa od Ružarije, Perast, Montenegro. 

Photo: Casper Molenaar, 8th of August 2018

During the main season Perast can be overcrowded with tourists as was in early August 2018 . When you think parking the van would be the biggest challenge of making this photo, I turned out to be so wrong. We managed to park a few hundred meters from the paid parking lots where most tourists park their cars. I knew it wouldn't be that hard to find the right church. So I started full of confidence. But it was hot and my other familymembers decided to sit down and enjoy the shadow and have some drinks on a pleasant cooled terrace and let me do what I had to do. I went back all the way up to the main road. Maybe that it is not such a long walk, it is just a few hundred meters up to the 17th-century-built Crkva Gospa od Ružarije, but it is steep and it was so hot.

View on Perast from Stoliv at the opposite site of the Bay of Kotor, 24th of July 2014

When I came around a corner and saw the church in the same angle as I saw the one on Kurt Hielscher's photo, the magic happened again. I was in the footsteps of Kurt Hielscher. Indeed there's something magic about stepping into an old photo.

At work: I tried for something like 20 minutes and made a lot of shots. In any direction possible I took a small step and made a new one. But I was balancing on a ledge at the same time stretching myself to the max to get the right one, even without looking through the viewer. Kurt Hielscher probably took his photo from just a little higher standpoint that was not reachable for me.

I realized that the summer heat will prevent most tourists from going up the steep stairs. Air conditioning and shade are a must here, but the views are rewarding, and Perast still gives a feeling of authenticity. On the other hand I do not blame my family for preferring the terrace and a cool drink. In the end I could join them, soaked wet in sweat, but satisfied with the result.

Since the earthquake of 1979, the Bay of Kotor, with Kotor, Risan and Perast are on the UNESCO World Heritage List and not endangered anymore since 2013.

I can recommend to drive around the Bay of Kotor, make a stop for a swim, visit one of the villages on the shore and also go up into the mountains and look back down on the Bay for the stunning views it has to offer.

The islets Gospa od Škrpjela and Sveti Đorđe seen from Perast, Montenegro. Photo: Kurt Hielscher, 1926

The islets Gospa od Škrpjela and Sveti Đorđe seen from Perast, Montenegro. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 8th of August 2018

The island of Gospa od Skrpjela is an artificial island built on a rock in the middle of the sea. In 1452, two navigators found a statue of the Virgin Mary near the rock and that's how the pilgrimage site was created. The island grew steadily because the inhabitants kept taking a stone to the rock. A church was eventually built on it in 1630.

Check also the Facebookpost with the Crkva Gospa od Ružarije.

Stoliv at the Bay of Kotor, 3rd of August 2015

Graveyard up to Gornji Stoliv, 3rd of August 2015

View from Gornji Stoliv to the Bay of of Kotor with Perast on the right, 3rd of August 2015

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher