Perast was at its peak in the 18th century under the Venetian Republic, when it had as many as four active shipyards, a fleet of around one hundred ships, and 1,643 residents. The 1,500 citizens of Perast were allowed to trade with large ships and to sell goods without tax on the Venetian market, which made them wealthy. The example of the wealth of people from Perast at the end of the 18th century is the fact that they managed to collect 50,000 Venetian gold coins (about 200 kg of gold) to pay the famous Venetian constructor Giuseppe Beati to build for them the highest campanile (55 m) on the East-Adriatic coast. There are two small islands near Perast: St George Island with the small church from the 12th century and the artificial island called Gospa od Skrpjela (in Venetian: Madonna dello Scarpello) which has a very interesting story. Namely, the locals had been throwing rocks and sinking old shipwrecks for 200 years from the reef whose top was 1 meter above the water's surface, thus creating a plateau of 3,030 square meters, on which they then built a church.