The most striking and strategically crucial strait of Bay of Kotor is the Strait of Verige, which is opposite the town of Perast. Today, Verige is one of the most popular photo locations in the extremely photogenic Boka Bay, a place where the view leaves you breathless on both romantic summer evenings and the winter days when the snow falls down the hills of the Herzegovina Mountains, sometimes also covering the coastal villages in Risan Bay and Perast itself.
Imagine the surprise and fascination of cruise ships guests, who, after passing through Kumbor's Strait, opened to Tivat Bay? The sea surface reflects the scene, where like the eagles, the wings of Lovćen and the slopes of Orjen watch for the Bay. Everyone is instantly aware of the fact that he's coming to the area of unusual beauty. Here the “mountain wings“ are located in the hinterland of the Tivat plain, the impression is less intense than the landscape that opens before you then go to the Kotor-Risan basin through the strait of Verige. You do not need to be familiar with the history of this region to immediately feel the tremendous strategic and historical significance of this narrow sea strait, which marks the former border between the Christian towns of the bay and the Turkish Herceg Novi.
Verige through history
Thus, in 1498, Kotor's Venitian Governor asked for the Senate of the Venetian Republic to approve 350 ducats to build a fort at Verige. He claimed that there were already a lot of soldiers, and the money he had asked for was accepted. But for some reason, landlords of Perast did not use it for the construction of the fort but obtained some cannons from that fond.
In the Verige strait, there were bloodstained battles in the late 15th century. The Governor of Kotor reported to his superiors in Venice that Turks threatened to set up some bastions on Verige and to transfer construction materials there. The Senate had a strong opinion about it and suggested to build two fortresses at Verige, one at each side of the strait. However, the Christian army at that stage was late because the Turks started to realize their plan. They dug up limescale holes on both sides and prepared everything for masonry. The Venetians had prevented that goal making Turkish builders leave the strait.
The Turks, however, made Kotor's Governor report to the Senate about the new Turkish preparations for the construction of a fortress at Verige after four years, and then again after four years. Indeed, the Turks then dropped out of the narrow Verige and built one of those fortresses at the strait of Kumbor, which was soon destroyed.
Our Lady of Angels in Verige
No matter how much the Venetians complained about the Turkish ventures around Verige, they were not ready to give up, so they raised the fortress with the grate and the church of Our Lady of Angels at the south-eastern cape of the strait. Although above the church door reads the years 1585 and 1654, it is considered that this church was created earlier and that its significant restorations were made in those years. Thus, in 1585, the landowners of the town of Perast rounded the church with loopholes and built a strategic fortress for the defense of this town. Inside the wall, there is a smaller one-store building, where the guards were probably located and through which they could enter the church. The church was destroyed on May 15, 1654, during the Turks' attack on Perast, but restored in the same year.
From the Our Lady of Angels, there is a beautiful view of Perast and the island of Our Lady of Rock and Saint George. With its defending walls, the island of Saint George together with the fortification on the Cape of Our Lady of Angels aided the defense of Perast from the sea.
Are Verige chains?
The best historians of this region through centuries wrote about Verige. Ivan Lučić and Andrija Zmajević both think that the name Verige keeps a memory of a chain (in local dialect: verige) that prevented entry into the bay. Of course, this has different views, because the documents of the Historical Archives in Kotor gives rise to a different interpretation of the name Verige. It seems that the title of this strain does not come from chains, but from the Catena family, a noble family from Kotor, which in that part of the bay had possessions, whose name in Italian means chains or verige.
"It is possible that some guards occasionally set up chains on both sides of the straits to block access to unobtrusive ships in the wealthy cities that settled in the depths of the Kotor fjord due to sanitary or customs formalities," Croatian academic Slobodan Prosperov Novak wrote in his book "Boka Kotorska from Bell Tower to Bell Tower."
Verige of Today
Today, Verige is one of the most significant neuralgic points of the UNESCO area of Kotor and the rest of Boka Bay. Traffic through narrow straits during the summer months is incredibly intense. Cruise passengers are so often in a position to enjoy sailing regattas when sailing through the Verige and admire the skills of today's Bokelian sailors who navigate their course knowingly avoiding the "giants" with which they are passing by. And there are yachts, charter sailing boats, small wooden boats of the local families. Rush hour all day long. As well as a magnificent view.
The Turks have never succeeded in building a fort in Verige. In addition to Our Lady of the Angel, who delighted Verige since the 16th century, if not before, no one came to mind to disrupt the untouched nature of the Verige huts, whose servants of greenery and rocks advise the traveler to enter into one of the most amazing and fascinating nature artworks- Bay of Kotor.
The Turks did not succeed, but independent Montenegro allowed itself to ensure all necessary documents and support the private investor to destroy the natural shape of the NW cape defining the strait of Verige. Despite the numerous public and citizen appeals, the Montenegrin Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism and cultural heritage services allowed the building of concrete construction at Verige. In this object is housed in an exclusive restaurant offering fine dining with views of Baroque Perast and its islets. No dilemma, a deep breath. The view from Perast is not that overwhelming, but it is how it is...
On the eastern side of the strait, just before the Church Our Lady of Angels, there is a natural sandy and rocky beach of about 250 meters, on which a temporary catering facility was built, called Verige. For the summer months, this is one of the favorite Boka beaches. During the winter, an exciting place to be protected from the wind and with a hot drink watching the wreck of Risan Bora, one of the strongest winds in Boka Bay.
Interesting is also the view of the strait of Verige from the ferry on the Kamenari-Lepetane line. Looking from this position towards Perast, you can imagine flying in some ancient times when small stone coastal settlements in Boka were divided by untouched green passages. Times, when only bell-towers of numerous churches of Boka disturbed the homogenous landscape of those little stone villages and towns, are gone forever. But, there are enough marks all around the Bay that could help us reconstruct the way of life made this area, besides its natural beauty, also one of the significant cultural regions in Adriatic through centuries.