Novi Sad (Újvidék), Serbia

Reference work entry


Novi Sad, on the left bank of the Danube, is the capital city of Vojvodina and its commercial and cultural centre. In an area of long-standing military importance, the modern city was born in the late seventeenth century. It was under Ottoman and then Austro-Hungarian rule before coming under Yugoslav jurisdiction in the twentieth century.


Evidence of human habitation surrounding Novi Sad dates back 6,500 years. The Romans established a small settlement and later fortifications were built that developed into the Petrovaradin Fortress. The area fell to numerous invading forces before the Ottomans took control in 1526.

Austria wrested power from the Turks in the 1690s and set about re-building the Petrovaradin Fortress to reinforce the border with the Ottoman Empire. In 1748 Novi Sad, first mentioned in 1694 as a bridgehead adjacent to the fortress, was declared a free city. Developing as a trade centre, its cultural importance for Serbs likewise increased. In 1864 a major Serb institution, the Matica Srpska Arts and Culture Society, relocated to Novi Sad from Budapest, where it had been established 38 years earlier. The Serbian National Theatre was founded in 1861. The city was a home to socialism throughout the nineteenth century.

Following World War I the city was part of Yugoslavia. In World War II it was invaded by the Hungarian forces of Admiral Horthy, who annexed it in 1941, during which large numbers of Serbs and Jews were massacred. For its struggles during the war Novi Sad was awarded the Order of National Hero by President Tito in 1970.

In the aftermath of the war Novi Sad was designated capital of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and officially returned to the Yugoslav sphere of influence in 1947. It underwent much rebuilding in the communist era, consolidating its importance within the region. However, it suffered badly during the NATO bombing campaigns against Slobodan Milošević, with its power supplies cut off and many buildings, including its three famous bridges, destroyed.

Modern City

Among the chief industries are metal and chemical processing, agriculture, food processing, textiles, publishing and broadcasting. An important port, it links the Danube with the Backa canal network. It is also on the Begrade–Budapest railway. The nearest airport is Belgrade.

Places of Interest

Renowned for its diverse ethnic make-up, Novi Sad has a rich cultural life. In addition to the university, the Serbian National Theatre and Matica Srpska are based here. The most famous tourist landmark is the well-preserved Petrovaradin Fortress, standing imposingly on a rock. The current construction was built largely between 1692 and 1780. It came under civil administration in 1950.

There are many churches, covering a wide spectrum of religious groups, with the Catholic Cathedral to St Mary among the most prominent. The Fruska Gora monasteries were built between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, of which 18 remain operational.

The Novi Sad museum complex includes an art gallery, underground military catacombs, parts of the fortress and a museum dedicated to the poet Jovan Jovanović Zmaj. The Musuem of Vojvodina complex is 30 km outside Novi Sad and includes collections of art, archaeology, ethnology and history. Its most famous treasures are two gold Roman helmets. There is an Institute for Nature Preservation, documenting the ecology of Vojvodina.

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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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