[Image: Via montenegro.com].
Somehow this morning I ended up reading about an artificial island and devotional chapel constructed in Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor.
“In 1452,” we read at montenegro.com, “two sailors from Perast happened by a small rock jutting out of the bay after a long day at sea and discovered a picture of the Virgin Mary perched upon the stone.” Thus began a process of dumping more stones into the bay in order to expand this lonely, seemingly blessed rock—as well as loading the hulls of old fishing boats with stones in order to sink them beneath the waves, adding to the island’s growing landmass.
Eventually, in 1630, a small chapel was constructed atop this strange half-geological, half-shipbuilt assemblage.
[Image: Via Skyscraper City].
Throwing stones into the bay and, in the process, incrementally expanding the island’s surface area, has apparently become a local religious tradition: “The custom of throwing rocks into the sea is alive even nowadays. Every year on the sunset of July 22, an event called fašinada, when local residents take their boats and throw rocks into the sea, widening the surface of the island, takes place.”
The idea that devotional rock-throwing has become an art of creating new terrain, generation after generation, rock after rock, pebble after pebble, is stunning to me. Perhaps in a thousand years, a whole archipelago of churches will exist there, standing atop a waterlogged maze of old pleasure boats and fishing ships, the mainland hills and valleys nearby denuded of loose stones altogether. Inadvertently, then, this is as much a museum of local geology—a catalog of rocks—as it is a churchyard.
In fact, it doesn’t seem inaccurate to view this as a vernacular version of Vicente Guallart‘s interest in architecturally constructing new hills and coastlines based on a logical study of the geometry of rocks.
Here, the slow creation of new inhabitable terrain simply takes place in the guise of an annual religious festival—pilgrims assembling islands with every arm’s throw.