“Today, the palaces of Perast are almost silent witnesses of its former greatness, splendour and wealth. A complete history of Perast, especially the prosperous period of the 17th and 18th centuries is vividly reflected in them.”
There are 19 palaces in Perast, the majority of them built during the 17th and 18th century in the baroque style. Yet there is a simplicity to the baroque elements which even though they dominate the more traditional forms of architecture, have avoided the flowery ornate forms that baroque is known for and achieved instead a measure of tranquility.
Sestokrilovic Palace – It is located in the area called “Luke”, in the southeastern part of Perast. The palace was built at the end of the 17th century, which is confirmed by an inscription in the roof cornice making reference to 1691. The Sestokrilovics were one of the oldest clans – casadas. Their palace is a harmoniously built, two-story edifice, without a belvedere, reminiscent of the Renaissance style. It has a hipped roof with a characteristic volute. The palace has defensive loopholes.
Lucic – Kolovic – Matikola Palace – It is situated on the waterfront, in the western part of Perast. It was built in the second half of the 18th century, which is confirmed by an inscription on the main facade dating the structure to the year 1779 and listing the names of the owners, Nikola Kolovic – Matikola and members of the casada Studeni. It is a modest, harmoniously proportioned building, with a small fenced yard facing the sea. It is easily identified by the belvedere on four sides.
Bujovic Palace –The palace fronts on the waterfront in the western part of Perast. According to tradition, it was built of hewn stone taken from the destroyed walls of Herceg Novi following its liberation from Turkish rule in 1687. Three stone tablets on the facade bear the date 1694 which indicate the beginning of its construction and commemorate the heroism of Vicko Bujovic for whom the construction of the palace was financed by a grateful Venice. Vicko and his brother, Ivan Bujovic, were from the casada Stojisic. The palace is one of the most beautiful edifices on the Adriatic coast, designed by the Venetian architect Giovanni Battista Fontana. The palace was conceived in the Renaissance style with the pillars of the monumental arcaded porch carried out in the bugnatto technique. There is a serene harmony in the five balconies on three facades and a transition into the baroque in the rich ornamentation of the arcades, balustrades and decorative details. A vast porch stretches along the length of the ground floor topped with a balustraded terrace. The raised coastal road, constructed in 1912, gives the impression that coastline of Perast has “sunk” and that the palace, in particular, has lost its harmonious proportions, however this is an illusion.
Bronza Palace – It is situated in the eastern part of Perast, in the area called “Luke”, right on the waterfront. It was built in the mid-18th century. In the 19th century, during the rule of Austro-Hungary it served as a “Dogana” – i.e. a customs station. The family of Bronza settled in Perast from the town of Skadar and they belonged to the casada Silopi. Its members were renowned seamen and merchants. It is typically baroque, single-storey building, with a belvedere. The original layout of the rooms has been preserved.
Balovic Palace – The Balovics, who belonged to the casada Dentali, were mostly seamen, engaged either in the navy or private maritime trade. The Balovic palace is a typical 18th-century, baroque edifice – simple but harmonious and monumental, with two stories and a belvedere. Until its restoration in 1981, when it was adapted into apartments, the palace had retained its original layout– four rooms and a salon. The family was renowned for their rich archives and library, which were taken from Perast, first in 1933 and then following World War II. In the summer of 1846, the Montenegrin Prince-Bishop Njegos stayed in the palace and there he wrote a poem “Paris and Helen” or “A night more precious than a century”.
Vukasovic – Kolovic Palace – It stands in the area “Luke”, next to the Viskovic palace, on the waterfront. It was probably built in the first half of the 18th century. The Kolovics belonged to the casada Sestokrilovic. They settled in Perast from Sestani, near the town of Bar, and, during the 17th and 18th centuries, they became known as outstanding seamen and merchants. Other notable professions practiced by the family were medicine, theology and the compilation of traditional folk literature.
Brajkovic – Martinovic Palace – It is located west of the main square next to the old road and is one of the oldest preserved palaces in Perast, built at the site of an old house of the Markovic family. An inscription mentions the year 1623 and says that the place was built by Vicko and his brothers, the sons of Tripo Markovic, later known as Martinovic – from the casada Cizmaj. The palace has preserved its original plan. The first floor salon was decorated at the end of the 19th century in the style of Napoleon II. It is the only completely preserved salon in Perast, with original decorations and furniture.
Smekja Palace – The palace is situated on the waterfront, in the central part of Perast, next to the church and square of St. Mark. It consists of two separate structures – the older one, situated between the coastal and the old road, built in 1764 and the new one, the construction of which started in 1764 but was actually finished in the 1930s. These two parts are connected by a vaulted passage above the old road. Members of the family Smekja, from the casada Cizmaj, were mentioned as seamen as early as in the second half of the 16th century. Petar Smekja brought about the economic prosperity of the family, following his famous merchant undertaking when he established a trading route between Venice and the Baltic countries in his ship “Leon Koronato” in 1746. In 1748, he became a “Konte” (count), while in 1779 the family acquired the status of Kotor nobility. The Smekja palace is the biggest of all palaces in Perast. This three-story edifice with belvedere was entirely built of stone brought from the island of Korcula. A terraced porch stretches along the whole length of the first floor, while the second and third floors are decorated with balustraded balconies. Above the entrance, there is the coat-of-arms of the casada Cizmaj – two crossed branches with five feathers on each one. The new part of the palace was finished in 1936, modeled on the existing ground and first floors in the same style and of the same stone.
Viskovic Palace – Located in the area called “Luke” on the waterfront below the old road, the Viskovic complex consists of four parts: a tower, a palace, a loggia with a garden and a new part of the palace. The oldest part of the palace is the tower built around 1500. It was a part of the town’s defensive system, this conclusion being based on the incised inscription on the tower’s doorpost – five Ps: “Parvum Propugnuculom Pro Praesidio Perasti.” On the highest floor of the tower, a cannon has been preserved. Next to the tower, is a two-story palace with loggia to which was subsequently added a new addition. The palace has three portals, all rendered in the bugnatto technique. The first portal is on the south side, on the garden wall, facing the sea. It carries a sumptuous coat-of-arms with a toothed fish in its upper part, a symbol of the casada “Dentali” to which the Vickovic family belonged, and a lion in its lower part – a symbol specific to the family. The main entrance to the palace is on the northeastern side, next to the old road. Its portal again displays the carved toothed fish from the Viskovic clan and the initials FCCV (Francesco Conte Colonello Viskovic). The ground portal of the loggia, with the incised year 1718 and toothed fish above it, is on the same side.
Mazarovic Palace – It stands in the southeastern part of Perast called “Luka” above the old road. Its facade is partly obscured by a line of houses that have been built in front of it, directly by the side of the old road. This mid-18th-century, two-story palace is one the most typical examples of baroque architecture, with a centrally set belvedere (an architectural motif which became widespread in Boka in this period). The belvedere decorated with volutes carries the coat-of-arms of the Mazarovic family. On the ground level is a portal carried out in the bugnatto technique, flanked by two baroque windows. The second story is enhanced by a balcony resting on six decorative brackets. As early as 1882, both the palace and the old house were referred to in the land registers as ruins.
Zmajevic Palace – It is situated in the western part of Perast in the area of called “Prencici”. The palace is referred to as “the Bishopric” because it served as a residence for two bishops, Andrija and Vicko Zmajevic. The palace, with an octagonal belfry and a family chapel dedicated to the Lady of the Rosary, represents the most distinctive landmark in the landscape of Perast and its most valuable architectural entity. The Zmajevics belonged to the casada Perojevic. The family coat-of-arms depicts a winged dragon and a star, placed above two crossed leathers, a symbol of the casada Perojevic. Before the construction of the palace, the Zmajevics are known to have lived in an old house on the coast, which preserved the Zmajevics coat-of-arms until recently. The palace was built in several phases, acquiring its final baroque appearance at the time of Andrija Zmajevic. This final transition is noted in an inscription on the facade which makes reference to 1664. The palace, which was built on a rock, using local stone, represents an excellent marriage of architecture and natural rock. The symmetrical placement of the palace with the center protruding over a rock cave, wings supported by strong bearing walls and a magnificent external staircase give the impression that the palace was built all at once. The palace originally housed the library of the Zmajevics, said to be one of the largest in Dalmatia.