The island of Perast Sv. Đorđe can be reached by boat through the Kotor Bay from the direction of Verige. The island with live cypresses, church, priory, ramparts, loopholes and watchtowers, was and still is the inspiration of painters and the subject of oral traditions and legends. There are a church and priory which are assumed to have been built by the Benedictines. For more than 13 centuries this island has been carrying the name of a saint and at the time protector of Kotor.
Today many call this island the island of the dead since the people from Perast were buried on the island. It is said that it was also called the “cursed island” since the Roman Pope officially cursed it because of a terrible crime that occurred on the island. Christians were afraid to step on it because they were afraid that the anathema of the Pope would get them. There are so many myths about this island...
First archive records of the church and priory of Sv. Đorđe “Sanctus Georgius de Gulfo” dates back to 1166 when Ivan, abbot of Sv. Jurje, attended consecration of the new second Romanesque church of Sv. Tripun in Kotor. However, according to the findings of the ornaments on the church, it is assumed that the Benedictines have lived in the church since the 9th century.
The legend says that the island had been white for centuries until the Benedictines came and planted cypresses – the symbols of death and transience of life. Design of the old church was not preserved, apart from individual details, since it was destroyed by the conquerors and earthquakes, particularly the earthquake in 1667. After that earthquake a simple church was built with a unique collection of heraldic marks on the graves of the old families from Perast. The island of Sv. Đorđe was a town cemetery until 1866 when a new one was built in the northern part of Perast. The priory was conquered by the Venetians and the French and the Austrians used it as a military fortress and built the protective walls with loopholes around it. On the island there are Illyrian graves, Roman inscriptions and Roman tegulae (roof-tiles).