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Our Lady of the Rock Islet, Perast

Our Lady of the Rock Islet is a small artificially created island opposite Perast that houses the Church of Our Lady of the Rock, dedicated to the Assumption.
The unique ensemble erected on the islet consists of the rectangular church with square presbytery above which is an octagonal tambour with a dome; a circular bell tower with loggia and dome; the keeper’s lodge along the south-east façade of the church; a spacious terrace with baluster fence; the cistern at the back of the presbytery; and finally the so-called Reconciliation Hall, in front of the church on a paved area.
The existence of a little chapel on a rock is already mentioned in the middle of the 15th century, and in 1544 a church was built on the broadened islet. The period of the 17th and the 18th century was one of more intensive construction on the islet. The present-day church was built in 1630 with the octagonal tambour and the dome being added to the original square presbytery in 1725, giving the whole shrine its current appearance. The construction of the keeper’s lodge and the terrace were completed in the mid-18th century. The church was consecrated in 1736 by Ivan Zanobetti, the Bishop of Kotor.
The church made of finely chiselled stone is a single-nave edifice with a double-pitch roof with Spanish roof tiles. The front is dominated by a profiled portal above which there is a tympanum cut at the top containing a niche with the statute of the Mother of God and Jesus, and above there is a rosette. The end of the front is profiled just like the cornice. On the side wall of the church there is a profiled portal, and two quite large highly set oval windows. The presbytery chapel is considerably illuminated from the main nave, since in the tambour there are three large rectangular windows. The walls and the ceiling of the main nave are decorated with paintings of the local Baroque painter of the 17th – 18th century, Tripo Kokolja. The cycle of the paintings depicts the Apotheosis of Mary’s Motherhood of Boka. In the main nave, left and right from the entrance to the presbytery, there are two marble altars.
In the central part of the presbytery, elevated by two steps, is the luxurious Carrara marble Baroque altar, made in 1796 by Antonio Capellano, a Genoese sculptor. On the “mensa” there is a luxurious marble frame with the icon of the Virgin Mary and Jesus in the middle, the work of Lovro Dobričević of the 15th century. On either side, on the “mensa”, are the statues of St. John the Evangelist and St. Rocco, the work of Francesco Gai of the year 1783.
The present-day church was built in 1630 on the site of the original church of the mid-16th century, and on the site of the mid-15th century chapel. The greatest construction works on the church and the complex were carried out in the 17th and the first decades of the 18th century giving them their present-day appearance.
The walls and the ceiling of this single-nave church were decorated by the local painter Tripo Kokolja. This masterpiece was created at the end of the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century, and it consists of the scenes from the Old Testament (Prophets and Sybillas) on the lower part of the walls of the main nave. On the upper part and the ceiling are the scenes from the Virgin’s life including the dominant Dormition scene, and the Assumption of the Virgin. Tripo Kokolja was able to create these paintings due to the intervention of Andrija Zmajević, his famous benefactor. In the main nave, the walls are also decorated by silver votive plates. Two marble altars in the main nave are dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and St. Rocco, made in Baroque style, donated by Vicko Smecchia, from the mid-18th century. In the central part of the presbytery, there is a luxurious marble altar made of white Carara marble, and on the “mensa” is the icon of the Virgin with Jesus in richly decorated marble frame, the work of Lovro Dobričević, the greatest Kotor painter of the first half of the 15th century. The circular bell tower is divided into three parts by horizontal profiled cornices, above which is a loggia mounted on eight small columns that support the eight-part dome. The loggia and the dome are the work of Matija Lamberti.

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