Destinations / Coastal region
Sveti Stefan, Coastline of MontenegroThursday, August 25, 2011 · Region Coastal region · Comments
At the foot of the Lovcen mountain ridge you will find one of the most exotic encounters of land and sea, the island of Sveti Stefan. Narrow streets, small squares and old churches one considers to plunge back into the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, with buildings on the outside looking just like a few centuries ago.
History of Sveti Stefan
As people recall a fort was built on the island in 1442 when it was first settled. The island was fortified by walls so families from the surrounding villages could find shelter from Turkish and pirate attacks. According to legend, the settlement was founded after a Pastrovic band bested the crew of a Turkish galley, and with the booty they seized, a fort was built with one house for each of the twelve Pastrovic clans. On the terrace above the entrance to Sveti Stefan for decades the Pastrovic court meted out justice and resolved disputes, the spot known as the "place of justice". Later, the village came to be established in the 1800s, when the population was about 400 people. During the Balkan wars only about thirty families still lived on the island.
The conversion into the world's most unusual "town-hotel"
Complete re-settlement took place in 1955 when the island was totally renovated and converted into the world's most unusual "town-hotel". The streets, walls, roofs, facades retained their former appearance, while the interior of the houses acquired modern hotel amenities. Today it is an attractive combination of an ancient exterior and a sumptuous interior, intended for the upscale tourist trade. For centuries on Sveti Stefan periods of turbulence and glory, brilliance and misery succeeded one another.
However, the separation of Montenegro from Yugoslavia saw the decline of this resort, in the 1990s. Villa Miločer built between 1934 and 1936 was the summer residence of Queen Marija Karadordevic (1900–1961) of the Karađorđević family of Serbia, which was refurbished as part of the Aman Sveti Stefan resorts that should have opened in 2009, but remains closed until this day.
Formerly under ownership of the Radenovic family for some forty years, between the 1960s and 80s, the place was patronized by many celebrities like Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Princess Margaret, Carlo Ponti, Ingemar Stenmark, Kirk Douglas, Silvester Stallone and many others.
Churches in Sveti Stefan
Sveti Stefan has three churches: the church of St. Stephen, after which the island was named, located on the highest point on the island, the church of Alexander Nevski, and the smallest one dedicated to the Transfiguration, at the very entrance to the town, joined by a narrow embankment with the mainland.