Prevlaka – or as it was called during the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ‘’The Island of Flowers’’, is the first and closest of the three islands in the Krtoli archipelago, in the southeastern part of the Bay of Tivat.
From the coast of the peninsula hills, it is divided by a very shallow strait that is less than 10 meters wide and even occasionally runs dry during the lowest tides.
This small island, about 300 meters long and 200 meters wide, covered with Mediterranean plants, has since ancient times been inhabited and evidenced by numerous archaeological finds in Prevlaka, and the most important of those are in the western part, where archaeologists have found the remains of a large Roman villa with characteristic rich mosaic floors.
The oldest name of the Prevlaka peninsula was Tumba, Tomba and Tumbe which is written in the documents from the 15th century, and then it is found in various forms, of which is the most common is Preulaca and Prevlacca. In muniments from the year 1124, Prevlaka was called Tumba (TUMBLE donamus … Sancti Archangel ….). In notarial archive books, Prevlaka is recorded as Michael S. de Tomba; in the Statute of Kotor, Prevlaka is mentioned as Metochia S. Michaelis.
A very important Benedictine monastery from the 9th century, on which a medieval Orthodox monastery of the Archangel, St. Michael was later built, is also based on the island. It was here where Serbian St. Sava founded the Zeta’s bishopric in 1219.
The Imperial Lavra of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, in Prevlaka, was for centuries the seat of the Montenegro Metropolitanate. Although destroyed in the 15th century and partly rebuilt in the 19th century, it has to the present day, not lost its significance for spirituality and culture for the Orthodox residents of the Bay of Kotor and Montenegro. Prevlaka is also the place where the famous Ilovička krmčija was created – a copy of St. Sava’s rule of law in 1262.
Prevlaka has been known as a major center since the Roman and Byzantine times; before the establishment of the St. Sava’s Zeta bishopric and the construction of the temple by Stefan Prvovjenčani, it was a significant Benedictine spiritual center, which St. Sava and Zeta’s bishops renewed and gave a universal meaning to. The Kings and emperors came to this place, starting from St. Jovan Vladimir, and the Vojisavljević, Nemanjić, Balšić, Crnojević rulers and metropolitan masters of Montenegro, Petrović. On Prevlaka and the neighboring island of St. Mark, there were numerous temples and other buildings such as metropolitan buildings, some of which are visible to this day, as well as numerous ancient wells, salt pans in a nearby field and other archaeological sites. This place is a kind of symbiosis of East and West, one of the most important, not only on the coast but in the whole of Montenegro. From the 14th century Prevlaka had Venice as a master which destroyed the local monastery near the island in the 15th century and then transformed it into large summer houses for the nobility of Kotor, the most significant being a Dančulov summer house which can be seen at the foot of the peninsula hills near Prevlaka. Prevlaka itself became the property of the noble family Druško.
Otherwise, the first written mention of shipyards in the Bay of Kotor is linked to this site which dates back to 1361, when Dubrovnik commander of its naval ships, which then was located in the Bay, made to “fix one galleon in Prevlaka”.
At the beginning of the 19th century Countess Ekaterina Vlastelinović of family Druško bought one-third of the island on which the remains of the demolished Orthodox monastery was. Although she wanted to restore the former monastery and the great church of the Archangel, St. Michael, the Countess was not financially able to do so, therefore she built a new, smaller church of the Holy Trinity. The church was built with square cut stone, which was located on the site of the ruins of the great church of the Archangel, St. Michael and the construction quickly progressed. Completion of the church was on Trinity day in 1833, in the presence of several priests and a large number of believers from Boka, Budva and Paštrovići and guests from Dubrovnik and Cetinje. Then later, the tradition of the Trinity day festival in Prevlaka was started, which until the Second World War was organized as a massive and a magnificent event.
After the Second World War, a new tourist destination in 1969 was built on Prevlaka, called the “Island of Flowers”. It consisted of 75 villas with 120 rooms and a capacity of 368 beds located in a Mediterranean botanical garden and surrounded by a number of sports fields and recreational facilities. The “Island of Flowers” became a military resort in 1977. This extraordinary summer cottage was so famous that in the former Yugoslavia it got its own pop song that is based on the text and music of Zarko Petrović, and sang by Senka Velentanić. Today, unfortunately, Prevlaka doesn’t have any tourist attractions because the families of military personnel and refugees from Slovenia and Croatia live there.
Written by Siniša Luković