Ancient-Lost-city-of-Shas-Sas-Svac-Ulcinj-MontenegroAncient Lost city  of Shas – Šas – Svač with 365 churches

by Aleksandar Gazivoda

This time we will discover to you a new world. A world that existed before us and it will continue to exist after us, but it desperately waits for it secrets to be unveiled .
There, in the ruins of history lays ancient Illyrian city of Shas – Šas – Svač.


It’s territory, it’s location, it’s landscapes are so picturesque   that one can easily say “This is art” but of course art of nature  and a good hand of old Illyrian civilization that lived there, and in that manner it is considered one of the most attractive “dead cities” on the Adriatic coast.
The ancient city of Shas – Šas – Svač lays on the hill and on the lake with the same name. The city of Shas – Šas – Svač is also referred as “City of 365 churches” because on the Shasi hill is believed and evidenced existence of foundations and walls of 365 churches.

It is believed that the city of Shas – Šas – Svač was named after Saint Astius.
In the history the city of Shas is firstly mentioned in the IX century A.D. as an Episcopal city (Svacia Civitas).But through archeological discoveries it is verified that some churches are built around V-VI century.
Around year 1183 Stefan Nemanja   conquered the town and annexed it to his state. However, in 1242, following their failed invasion of  Olcinium, the Mongols, led by Batu Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan), destroyed Shas  and slaughtered its inhabitants. The ruins remaining from the Mongol invasion are today known by the locals as kishat, local phrase for churches. Based on historical sources in the XIII century Queen of Serbia Jelena ordered it’s reconstruction. By the XV century the old walls of city of Shas started to collapse so evidenced by a letter  written by the Archbishop of Shas  to Venice in 1406, where he pleaded  for monetary funding to renovate the town’s walls.
Around   year  1571 the city was completely destroyed by Ottoman empire and  was forever extinguished but never forgotten.

By archeological discoveries in 1985 there were found fragments of  prehistoric  pottery that originated from various epochs. On the eastern end, several pottery fragments were found decorated with fingernails, which possibly indicates early neolithic origin. Most numerous findings were of Iron Age pottery, found in several trenches, in the upper part of town and a great part of the suburbia. Such findings   provides evidence for the existence of an Iron Age fort. Nearly all kitchen pottery in Shas – Šas – Svač refers  to a Roman Catholic cultural foundation.
By legends that passed from generation to generation also evidenced in writings of Francisco Giustiniani in 1553 there were built 365 churches but by archeological discoveries there were found foundations and walls of only 10 churches.
The biggest church remains found on that location are Cathedral church of St. John the Baptist and St. Mary’s .
Talking about the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist we have to mention that   it was   Romanesque cathedral located at the highest point of the town. It was built in 1300 based on the inscription found on its facade. Based on the fragments remaining on its western wall, it is assumed that the church was built on an older church that was demolished by the Mongols.

The second biggest church found in Shas – Šas – Svač was the church of St. Mary’s which was a gothic-styled Franciscan church located on a plateau in the lower part of town. It is believed to have been built after 1300.
Except the archeological remains if you pay a visit to Shas – Šas – Svač you will find yourself enjoying the landscape in front of you , you can take a hike to Shas – Šas – Svač hill, you can refresh yourself swimming in the Shas – Šas – Svač lake, where if you have a little passion for diving you can discover the remains of an old city that lays under the lake, whose remains can be seen on a sunny summer day when the level of water  drops.

Considering all the facts that we discovered to you in the text above, old city of Shas – Šas – Svač hides numerous old secrets that waits to be unveiled about which  we  won’t write about, just to intrigue you that much so you pay a visit to this  ancient locality, incredible sightseeing , and discover them for you selves.