A brief history
The picturesque town of Perast, in Montenegro, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, encompassing some of the finest examples of Baroque architecture to be seen on the Adriatic coast. Its buildings and streets retain their original appearance, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, transporting visitors back to the days when the Venetian Republic took control of this city, and whose influence would leave a mark that is still clearly in evidence today.
Over the centuries, two key factors have defined the city’s urban layout: the historical need to defend its walls and the Romanesque holy buildings that nestle within the walled enclosure. Due to its strategic border location, Perast was destined to play a crucial political role, making the most of the economic and administrative advantages provided by the Venetian Government. Indeed, during the Middle Ages, it was home to no fewer than 12 noble families.
A prime maritime location and close connections with Venice were two of the reasons that led the Italian city to contribute to the creation of a fleet based locally in Perast. The objectives were to boost trade and provide better protection from attacks by the Barbary pirates. In fact, the sailors and merchants of this small town in Montenegro were internationally renowned not only for their trading know-how, but also for their military skills in times of conflict. Indeed, their feats earned them the honour of safeguarding the Venetian flag featuring the Lion of Saint Mark in times of war. One of the consequences of this long-standing experience and seafaring tradition was the choice of Perast as the site for the construction of the first maritime academy in the Balkans, on the orders of Marko Martinović himself, a prominent naval figure and one of the city’s most illustrious historical figures.
About the destination
The location of the Heritage Grand Perast, with its breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor, is undoubtedly one of the hotel’s finest attractions. It is also the ideal base from which to explore several areas in Montenegro and boasts excellent communications, just 60 km from Dubrovnik Airport and 20 km from Tivat Airport in Montenegro.
Standing practically next door to the hotel is the Church of Saint Mark, built in 1760 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as well as a number of saints including Saint Ann, Saint Mathew and Saint Mark the Evangelist. Guests staying at the Heritage Grand Perast will have fun trying to spot the winged lion with an open book in its paws, one of the symbols of Perast featured over the door. The open book symbolises the citizens of Perast and their connections with the Venetian Republic, which granted them a series of tax privileges.
Perast is located close to two islands: Saint Jorge and Gospa od Škrpjela. The former, which is also known as Sveti Đorde Island, is the site of the Church of Saint George, which was first mentioned in 1166 in a series of documents describing the consecration of the new and second Roman Cathedral of Saint Tryphon in Kotor. This monument, an authentic historical treasure, houses paintings dating back to 1326 and 1457, including a work by the famous Kotor-born artist Lovro Marinov Dobričević.
The second island, Gospa od Škrpjela, lies just 115 metres north-east of the Island of Saint George. This artificial site boasts magical origins: legend has it that in 1452, on their return home, a number of sailors claimed that they had seen an image of the Virgin Mary on the site of the current island. The residents of Perast decided to create the island by sinking disused boats, and later built a church there that dates back to 1630. Just like Island of Saint George, it is home to several precious artworks, including sketches inside the church drawn by a famous local artist, Tripo Kokolja, who was also born in the city.
In addition to its magnificent architecture and history, the city of Perast boasts a wealth of other attractions. Fashion lovers must not miss a tour of the Jadran Perast factory, built in 1936. A pioneering industry back in the 1950s and 1960s, it employed around 800 workers and was a major driving force for the city’s economy and welfare.
About the building
The noble families that inhabited historic Perast include the Smekja or Smecchia family. Their stately home dates back to the mid 16th century and is an authentic work of art that is impossible to miss, as it is the largest palace in the city. Since 2018, this building has housed the Heritage Grand Perast hotel.
The palace was built with stone from the Croatian island of Korčula, the same material that was used for the neighbouring Church of Saint Mark. Petar Smekja, the family patriarch, was a successful merchant who contributed to forging economic ties between the Baltic countries and Venice in the mid 18th century. He was rewarded with the title of count and in 1779 became a member of Perast’s nobility.
The palace comprises two parts, differentiated by the periods they were built in. The oldest section, which dates back to 1764, stands between the sea and the old road. The remaining sections are more recent, and although construction work commenced in 1764, the building was not considered to be complete until the 1930s.
One of the most noteworthy elements on the façade is the Smejka family coat of arms, represented by a hand holding the stem of a plant with stars. Furthermore, the entire building bears the hallmarks of traditional coastal architecture, including an arch-shaped cross that joins the two sections that form this stunning palace.
In all, a magnificent setting makes the Heritage Grand Perast an ideal hotel thanks to the combination of outstanding architecture and a matchless seafront location unlike any other in Montenegro. The wealth of history held within its walls, together with the state-of-the-art renovation work, which has carefully conserved the building’s traditional style, make this the perfect spot for those seeking to experience the magic of the past in a delightful setting offering the full range of contemporary comforts
The Heritage Perast Hotel
This five star hotel is made up of hotels with authentic soul and character that are noted for their history, light, colour, culture and beauty. The Heritage Grand Perast also stands out for its avant-garde luxury décor and its prime location on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Its Baroque architecture is a tribute to the culture and history of the idyllic location it is named after.
Following the renovation work, the hotel now has 130 rooms, including double superiors, deluxe doubles, junior suites, a duplex suite and the Royal Suite Palace. All the rooms offer a full range of facilities, including free WiFi, a minibar, en suite bathroom with a shower and flat screen TVs measuring between 42 and 50 inches. The rooms are distributed in the various buildings that form a complex that blends in harmoniously with the surrounding landscape. The hotel also provides guests with a beach sunbed service and a laundry service.
The charm and unique character of this hotel are further enhanced by the wide range of activities and services available, guaranteeing guests’ total relaxation. They include a spa – with massage rooms, a sauna and steam room -, interior spa – with an indoor pool, treatment rooms, hammam, sauna, as well as a sun terrace, swimming pool and a fitness room. The hotel is tailored to cater for various guest types, including those travelling with children, as well as couples or adventure lovers. The hotel’s prime location enables it to include unforgettable experiences in the range of activities on offer such as boat trips to the city of Kotor or a cruise around the nearby islands.
Meticulous attention to detail in order to offer the very finest gastronomy is undoubtedly another of this hotel’s greatest strengths. The facilities include a welcoming Lobby Bar and two restaurants, including a main buffet-style eatery where breakfast is served, as well as a second restaurant serving an extensive selection of international à la carte dishes. For those with special dietary requirements, the hotel provides a choice of gluten free, lactose free and Halal dishes, as well as menus for babies and many other options, provided that guests inform the hotel and book beforehand.
The Heritage Grand Perast guarantees each guest an enjoyable, one-of-a-kind experience, combined with the thrill of staying in a historic building that offers the full range of comforts, facilities and cutting-edge technologies. The unbeatable location allows visitors to explore one of Europe’s least-known regions, yet which is enjoying growing popularity, and is the perfect spot from which to explore Kotor’s historic quarter, discover the Citadel of Buvda or even the fabulous city of Dubrovnik.