The Petrovaradin cliff and its vicinity – the area covered by Petrovaradin Fortress – was the perfect environment for the earliest human settlements. The discovery of stone tools from the Old Stone Age (70,000 – 40,000 BC), meant that the first to settle Petrovaradin were the Neanderthals. The first fortification on the Petrovaradin cliff was built during the Copper Age (3200 – 2000 BC) while during the turbulent Bronze Age (2000–950 BC), the most prominent settlements were those belonging to the Vinkovci and Belegiš cultures. It was on the foundations of these settlements that several settlements belonging to the Bosut culture were built during the Old Iron Age (950–250 BC). During the New Iron Age (3-1 century BC), the local Illyrian and Pannonian settlers witnessed the migration of the Celts, who started appearing on the Pannonian Plane. The Celtic Scordisci, tribe mixed with the Illyrians and, once they had settled in the center of the Danube region, erected a fortification on Petrovaradin cliff, which would later grow into an economic center.
Due to its dominant position, the Romans viewed the Petrovaradin cliff as an excellent strategic position for a fortress. At the beginning of the 1st century AD, a garrison known as Cuzum was stationed at the fort. The fort was part of the Roman defense system, called Limes, which spread along the right bank of the Danube. A Roman settlement, Acumineum, was located within present-day Petrovaradin. Acumineum got its name due to the piece of land which juts out into the Danube right where it's situated. At the beginning of the 1st century, the Romans fortified the existing settlement and named it Cusum. As of that time and until the second half of the 20th century, the Fortress was home to a military garrison.
In the turbulent centuries marked by the great migration of people, the area of Srem was under attack from the Huns, the Gepids, the Slavs and the Avars and it fell under the power of the Franciscan, Bulgarian, Byzantine, Serbian and Hungarian states. In the 13th century, numerous fortresses were built throughout the territory of Hungary, among them a fort on the Petrovaradin cliff (1243-1254). The fortress was named after Petar Terefi, the head of the Csanad parish, as was the settlement across the Danube, Petrovaradin (Petar’s fortress). In the 15th century, Petrovaradin became one of the wealthiest abbeys in southern Hungary.
Prince Croy laid the cornerstone of the new fortress on the 18th of October 1692 under orders from Emperor Leopold I, after whom the first bastion would come to be named. Preliminary design for the modern fortress, according to historical sources, was actually stolen from а French military architect, Sebastian Voban, who was the leading fortress builder in Europe during the period from the 17th to the 18th centuries.
The construction of the fortress took place in two phases. During the first phase, from 1692 to 1728, the Upper Fortress, the Lower (Water) Town, the Hornwork, the bridgehead on the left bank of the Danube and the fortification on the Great War Island were built. The second phase of construction started mid 18th century and lasted until 1780. When works were completed on the Upper Fortress, and Petrovaradin Fortress complex (arsenals, gunpowder storages, military barracks, officers’ pavilions, warehouses, a new command center, the military hospital, a pharmacy, a post office, bakeries, etc.).
Once construction was completed, Petrovaradin Fortress would come to be viewed as one of the strongest European fortresses, often referred to as Gibraltar on the Danube. The dominant military and strategic position of the rock the Fortress was built on was precisely the reason for its nickname, “Gibraltar on the Danube”. From its guard towers, the Fortress garrison could see the enemy approaching both from the land and from the water, which gave them sufficient time to prepare for a potential siege. Practically unconquerable, and defendable with only a small garrison, the enemy usually tried to circumvent it in order to avoid a long and expensive siege with an uncertain outcome.
Revolutionary events occurring in Austria in 1848 did not bypass the Petrovaradin Fortress. The Fortress garrison joined the forces of Hungarian revolutionary Lajos Kossuth and the Austrians sent the Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić to suppress the Hungarian revolt. He concentrated his forces in Novi Sad and Novi Sad was almost devasted by the reaction from the Hungarian artillery.
In the decades that followed, Petrovaradin Fortress was mostly used as a large warehouse and the sight of imprisonment for numerous infamous personalities. The life of prisoners within the Petrovaradin Fortress was fairly difficult in mid-19th century. Many of them had to manually operate the water pumps that supplied drinking water to the upper parts of the Fortress. The rest of these unfortunate men would have the task of cleaning the streets of Petrovaradin while shackled in chains, twice a day, early in the morning and late in the evening. The perpetual clinging of chains and the sound of iron scraping along the pavement being a recurrent sound that terrified the locals and ensured their obedience.
In 1764, the military engineer and commander of the mining core, major Schroder, began planning the construction of an anti-mine system, an underground military gallery that stretched 16 km below the Fortress. Its construction was finished in 1776 and, today, these tunnels are known as the “catacombs” of Petrovaradin. Austrian experience in the Seven Years’ War with Prussia and the loss of the fortress of Schweidnitz, convinced their war council to invest in the building of a counter-mining system that would disable the enemy from penetrating Petrovaradin Fortress by digging and mining. Under the command of engineer Schroder, 16 000 meters of underground galleries were dug to house soldiers- engineers, gun powder and digging tools. The soldier on guard was able to estimate the direction the enemy engineers were digging from, via the listening system, which allowed him to place counter mines, activate them and stop the enemy from penetrating the Fortress.
The Clock Tower on the upper St. Louis Bastion is definitely the most famous symbol of Novi Sad. At the time of becoming a free royal city, the city of Novi Sad also received a large clock, as a present. It was placed on the Petrovaradin Fortress in 1750. What is interesting about this clock is that the small hand shows minutes while the big hand shows hours. Hence, the nickname “the drunken clock”.
The big hand shows the hour and the small one shows the minutes. It was built here so that sailors, sailing on the Danube, could tell time from afar. The clock runs fast in cold, and slow in warmer weather which is how it got its nickname, “the drunken clock”.
Artist Yoko Ono dedicated her “One Day...“ sculpture, inspired by the military boat “šajka”, to the memory of the signing of the Versailles Treaty on the 28th of June 1919, which marked the end of the First World War.
The boat has a dual meaning. The first is historical, the boat being that of Serbian frontiersmen who defended the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the second a symbol of the journey through life. The sculpture sits at the bottom of the Fortress.
In the late 17th century, when the construction of the Fortress began, live cats were built into the foundations of the new fortification. It was believed that cats had nine lives and by sacrificing them the structure would achieve longevity.
There are many stories and legends which accompany the construction of Petrovaradin Fortress. Legends about various mutated animals and monsters, the legend of the fisherman’s daughter, of people lost in its underground, to name but a few.
After World War II in 1948, Petrovaradin Fortress was put under state protection and in 1951 most of it was given over to civil authorities. Since then, numerous ramparts have been reconstructed and the facilities were adapted to serve cultural and educational institutions, some of which remain to this day (the City Museum of Novi Sad, the Academy of Arts, the Planetarium, the Observatory, Atelier 61, numerous studios dedicated to the fine and applied arts).
The Observatory, as we know it today, opened to the public in 1985. It is situated in the part of the Fortress known, according to the old plans, as Hornwerk, 20 meters from the entry gate in the old guards building.
The Church of Saint George is the oldest temple in Novi Sad, built by Jesuits between 1701 and 1714. It was followed by the Jesuit monastery and three other sections. At the beginning, this complex was a Jesuit monastery with a church school, eventually becoming a parish church. The Statue of St. Ignacio, the founder of the Christian order, has been carved into the facade.
The church was built in the Baroque style decorated with statues of St. Francis Xavier, St. Jan Nepomuk, with a relief of Virgin Mary with Jesus, a big stylized cross and a plate of the Croatian King Tomislav.
Clergy, civilians and high-ranking officers are buried in this crypt. Josip Juraj Štrosmajer lived here as a young chaplain, as did the famous poet and writer Ilija Okrugić Sremac who spent 30 years of his life here.
Austrian emperor Franc Joseph visited the church in 1852 and King Aleksandar of Jugoslavija in 1919.
The Belgrade gate or the Gate of Prince Eugene of Savoy, as it was originally called, is situated on the southeast side of the lower part of Petrovaradin Fortress. It was built in the Baroque Classicism style in the second half of the 18th century during an expansion to the fortification system of the Lower Fortress. The gate connects the Saint Benedict and Saint Francisca bastions. It is 20 meters wide along the front entrance, 40 meters wide inside and 20 meters deep. Inside the gate, there are 4 guard posts and 2 entrances to side rooms. On both sides of the gate, there are 2 vehicle and 2 pedestrian passageways. The gate was completely renewed between 2011 to 2015.
Founded within the space of Studio Radošević under the slogan "Culture – action – communication", it has two separate entities: the ITD Gallery and the Gallery of Takeaway Originals.
The ITD Gallery explores and promotes new values, local and international, from the domain of design, photography and visual communications, it promotes the redesign of sound, movement, written word, video…
The Gallery of Takeaway Originals, as a nucleus of creative industry, tries to promote Petrovaradin Fortress as a creative zone, Novi Sad as the city of culture and helps improve the cultural tourist offers through a variety of usable art souvenirs created at Studio Radošević.
Welcome to the Virtual 3D tour of the Petrovaradin Fortress, home of the famous EXIT Festival. Enjoy the creative interpretation of history, get inspired and learn something new!
This tour is part of the "Contemporary and Traditional Cultural Tourism Route" (CULHUSRBTOUR) Project, which is being carried out under the Interreg-IPA Cross-Border Cooperation between Hungary and Serbia. CULHUSRBTOUR was created as cooperation between the EXIT Foundation and the National Park "ONTE" in Ópusztaszer, Hungary.
Interreg-IPA cross-border cooperation programme between Hungary and Serbia is being implemented under the 2014-20 European Union financial period, through Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).
This website was produced with the financial support from the European Union.
Exit Foundation is exclusively responsible for the content of the website, and the content of the site does not reflect the official European Union’s and/or Managing Body’s opinions.
Hungarian kings, before Bela IV, were able to conquer Petrovaradin Fortress but were not able to hold it. He was the first ruler that strengthened his power and bequeathed Petrovaradin to French Cistercian monks. They built their monastery here naming it Belfons. In the first half of the 14th century, in order to protect their possession, they also constructed a fortress. The fortress gained in significance as the threat of the Ottoman Turks increased. For Hungarian kings Mathias Corvinus and his successor Vladislaus II, Petrovaradin was a starting point for their expeditions against the Ottoman Turks. Nevertheless, in 1526, discord within Christians and the unstoppable Ottoman military machinery caused Petrovaradin to fall under the Turks for the first time. The road to Vienna was open.
The Project "Contemporary and Traditional Cultural Tourism Route" (CULHUSRBTOUR) under Interreg-IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Programme between Hungary and Serbia, aims to develop a new tourist route and establish a new cross-border link. Cultural-tourist cross-border cooperation CULHUSRBTOUR was created as the cooperation between the EXIT Foundation, which thus continues the mission to expand the common community in the region, and the National Heritage Park in Ópusztaszer, Hungary. Partners have already organised four tourist events within the year and a half of the project, including music, visual arts, painting and photography, joint art meetings, workshops and study trips to both partner countries, primarily aimed at young people. The results of the cooperation include unique 3D tours of the Petrovaradin Fortress and the National Heritage Park in Ópusztaszer. Through them, historical stories and legends of both sites are portrayed in an interesting and interactive manner. A contribution to the CULHUSRBTOUR project to develop cross-border cooperation reflects in the document study on a new cultural-tourist route between Novi Sad and Ópusztaszer.
Learn more: http://www.interreg-ipa-husrb.com/en/home/
The Interreg-IPA Cross-border Cooperation Programme Hungary-Serbia is implemented within the 2014-2020 European Union financial framework, under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). On the basis of “shared management system” of the participating countries - Hungary and Serbia, the Programme funds and supports co-operation projects of organizations located in the Programme-eligible area - Hungarian counties Csongrád and Bács-Kiskun, and Serbian territories: West Bačka, North Bačka, South Bačka, North Banat, Central Banat, South Banat and Srem. The Programme helps the development of a stable and co-operating region and the overall quality of life in the border region. It enables economic collaboration of organizations from the two countries, nurtures the common identity, and cultural and historical heritage of the border region, and contributes to its environmental sustainability and safety.