The Sanctuary – Ancient Church in Montenegro Valley

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These ancient church ruins, in a lush mountainous valley outside of Kotor, Montenegro, were a delighting and unexpected find.

Some photographs are among my most cherished not because they are my best, but because they remind me of the most magical moments of my life. There's a handful of memories that I carry with me everywhere I go, and this is one of them. They usually have to do with a sudden and unexpected discovery. And I must admit, it's never because I actually discovered something unknown, but rather that I simply wasn't fully prepared. But that doesn't change the moment of rapture when it happens. One such moment was when I was hiking the Quirang in Scotland, without any prior research, and stumbled upon the Old Man of Storr. Or the first time I crossed over of the Santa Cruz Mountains at sunset into a dense fog stuck on the western slopes. The experience pictured here is also on the short-list. We were hiking up to St John's Fortress in Kotor, Montenegro. It was already extraordinarily beautiful and rewarding. Out of the corner of our eye, we saw a barely noticeable hole in one of the fortress walls. We popped through, and it was like entering another dimension. The lush mountain meadows were a stark contrast to the dry Mediterranean landscape on the other side of the wall. And the ancient church (or at least old) seemed forgotten to time. It felt like we were the first to find it in ages, which made the moment even more powerful. Almost like finding the gate to Narnia. Of course, we ended up meeting plenty of other tourists who found it too. But that couldn't take away the moment – it is mine forever. I like to think this peaceful sanctuary has given the same brilliant moment to many others over several centuries.

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