IslanZvërnec Island is an island within the Narta Lagoon in southern Albania. The island is nearly all covered with tall pine trees and is just east of a much smaller island. It is 430m in length and has a maximum width of 300m. Zvërnec Island is connected to the mainland by a 270m long wooden bridged in Albania
On a small island within the Narta Lagoon, the Zvernec Monastery appears before hundreds of pine trees.
Also known as the St. Mary Of Divinity Church, the Byzantine era church was thought to be built sometime during the 14th century. Despite its age, the building is extremely well preserved.
The inside is full of beautiful paintings and exceptionally intricate woodworking. The outside has a well maintained garden, and a few modern structures belonging to the church.
These are the only buildings on the island of Zverenec, so don’t expect to eat out while you are there. Although, there is usually a food truck just across the water at the entrance, with cold drinks and snacks.
The whole visit to Zvernec can be done relatively quick though, but it’s a great place to spend an afternoon.
ACROSS A LONG WOODEN BRIDGE
The current bridge was built in more recent years and forks into two paths about midway through. The first of those leads to the old monastery. The second widens into a dock, where people can watch the native birds and locals come to fish the wide lagoon.
Right next to the entrance to the bridge, metal flamingos shoot out from the water. These are here because Narta Lagoon is known for its actual flamingos. After a long absence, the area is now said to be home to around 3,000 of these long-necked fellows.
If you like birds, you can also have a seat along the shore and search the skies and water for pelicans, herons, and a few other species.
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.