More information about Zvernec Monastery
Covered in pines, this small gorgeous island off the coast of Vlora can be reached by walking along a 270- meter-long bridge, offering the visitor a one-of-a-kind experience with nature.
Monastery of Saint Mary, also known as the Monastery of Zvernec, is an important cultural monument on the Zvernec Island in the Narta Lagoon. The Byzantine church, build in the 13th century is a spiritual oasis for Christians in the area.
At the heart of the monastic complex you’ll find the Church of holy Mary, a beautiful place of worship, peaceful and surrounded by evergreens. Visitors to Vlore often add this architectural gem to their itineraries, particularly on August 15, when the celebrationf of Virgin Mary brings here pilgrims from all over Albania. Another important event held here is the carnival of Narta, during the Orthodox Easter.
Sitting at 30 meters above sea level, this picturesque island is named after the village of the same name, located about 13 km from the city of Vlora. Famous for its stunning forest of tall pines extending along nine hectares of land, the fairly small island also hosts the well-preserved 13th century byzantine Monastery of St. Mary. While Zvërnec is indeed compact in size, at approximately 400 meters in length and 300 meters in width, the island packs a magical experience.
The monastery is an impressive object of significant cultural and religious value. Its construction is thought to have occurred between the 12th and 13th centuries and, thus, boasts an architecture that is typical of the Byzantine era. To reach the monastery, you follow the charming bridge that, stretching over the water, connect the island with land.
The monastery was abandoned during the Communist period in Albania but soon after the system’s collapse, its important role in the community was restored. Named after St. Mary, every August 15th locals and others begin their pilgrimage to the monastery to celebrate the birthday of the woman who gave birth to Christ. Another female figure that has left her mark in Zvërnec is the one who embroidered the original flag of Albania’s Independence in 1912. Her tomb is located in the island’s cemetery.
The pine forest of Zvërnec, with its fresh air and wonderful scent, is a national natural monument that is well-worth witnessing. Keep in mind that this forest holds a large bat population so, unless you are a bat enthusiast, the best time to visit is during the day.