Archives of Memories: Presentations of the History of Novi Bečej through Anecdotes, Photographs and Untold Stories

Breathe life into the forgotten stories of Novi Bečej through our rich collection of articles dedicated to people and events from the past. Travel through the ages, exploring the colorful array of historical moments that shaped our city. Here, memories and reality meet, bringing old streets, stories and events to life through interesting anecdotes, untold legends and rare photographs. Experience Novi Bečej from a new angle, through the eyes of the past that shaped our present, while we try to preserve the spirit and heritage that makes our city unique.

Medieval (or ancient?) tunnels in the center of Novi Bečej
Featured

Medieval (or ancient?) tunnels in the center of Novi Bečej

The valid General Urban Plan for Novi Bečej adopted in 1984 gradually lost its relevance over time, prompting the Novi Bečej Municipal Assembly to adopt a new General Plan for the settlement of Novi Bečej during the session held on June 6, 2005. The following month, precisely on July 25, 2005, it was published in issue 12 of the Official Gazette of the Novi Bečej Municipality.

For us local patriots, and especially for all those who hold the history of Novi Bečej dear to their hearts, it is worth noting Chapter 4.2. Zones of immovable cultural heritage and rules and conditions of their protection, pages 183 to 197. This chapter was developed thanks to the "Study of the protection of immovable cultural heritage in the territory of the Novi Bečej Municipality" from 1995 and other materials produced by the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments from Novi Sad.

For this story about the tunnels of Novi Bečej, pages 190-191 are very important, where under the subtitle Archaeological Sites, location 6 is listed: the area where medieval tunnels and stone sculptures were found. Finally, and probably for the first time in an official document, tunnels under Novi Bečej are mentioned not because of the stories that have been circulating among our locals since ancient times, but because of undeniable facts. Some of us were fortunate enough to see parts of the tunnels and verify that the tunnels indeed exist. This happened during the final works around the Workers' Hall (now the Cultural Center) in 1976, later in 1983 when the construction of the Health Center began, and in 1984 during the excavation of the foundations for the Hotel "Tiski cvet." Of course, the local authorities were also informed about these accidental findings, but unfortunately, they did not react properly, for reasons known only to them, but hastily filled up those huge passages to the tunnels. Due to their failure to inform archaeologists from the Vojvodina Museum in Novi Sad, we have been deprived of answers to many questions regarding the tunnels of Novi Bečej to this day.

Let these few lines about the documentation of the place and time of finding the tunnels be an attempt to draw the attention of the municipal authorities again, so that they may correct the missed opportunity from the past and engage in archaeological research to shed light on the secrets of the tunnels of Novi Bečej.

- In the late 1960s, to be precise, in 1968, a depression in the sidewalk was noticed on the cold side of P. Drapšina Street between house numbers 3 and 5. The location of this pit was closer to number 3 and about a meter to 1.5 meters from the house wall. Some boys were boasting at that time that they had descended through the hole and found themselves in a large tunnel. One of them was Jožef Šimon, a former municipal driver, who recounts the following about that event: "Playing in front of the former Hunting Lodge (next to Mladen Krstonošić's house - Mlađa), we noticed a depression on the sidewalk, and when we approached, we saw a hole that led under some bricks. We squeezed through it, and after sliding for 2-3 meters, we found ourselves at the bottom of something. When we lit matches, we saw a tunnel lined with bricks much taller and about two meters wide than us, leading towards the Tisa River. We took a few steps forward, but fearing the darkness, we quickly returned to the exit, from which we barely escaped."

- A hint of a possible tunnel was noticed in the early 1970s by the journalist Milorad Kiselički in his backyard, where for years all tenants threw garbage into a deep pit into which rainwater also flowed. By the late 1990s, the pit seemed filled, as confirmed by Ištvan Sekereš and the author of this text when Kiselički took them to the spot. The location of the pit was in the immediate vicinity of the western side of the wall of the Catholic parish. As an experienced journalist, Milorad Kiselički photographed that pit several times from its discovery, but he jealously guarded the photos.

- In the summer of 1976, as the construction of the Workers' Hall was nearing completion, rough works were being carried out in the part of P. Drapšina Street, from Ive Lole Ribara Street to the future hall. The old Turkish cobblestone pavement was removed, and they began digging the route for laying water and sewage pipes, after which that part would be asphalted. Between the house of Milorad Azucki in P. Drapšina Street number 2 and the gate of the Shoe Factory "Pobeda" (where the entrance to the parking lot of the Hotel "Tiski cvet" is now located), somewhere near the cold side of the sidewalk, a huge pit appeared during the digging. At the bottom of the pit, a tunnel with a direction from south to north was visible, whose walls were lined with large-format bricks. The tunnel was about 2 meters high, and the soil covering it was at least the same height. Besides Milorad Azucki, Radovan Popov, director of the PD "Sokolac," Mihajlo Peskar, the then president of the local community, Ištvan Sekereš, and many other people who confirmed the parameters mentioned here also saw the tunnel. Our expectations that archaeological research of the tunnel would begin then were not fulfilled because after 2-3 days, we found a buried opening leading to the tunnel.

- Testimonies about the next tunnel discovery were obtained from Dr. Mile Teofanovski and engineer Radovan Popov. According to their accounts, workers from the construction company "Zidar" from Bečej, during the construction of the Health Center in 1983, came across a tunnel located at the corner of the south side of the building. It was then observed that the direction of the tunnel was southwest to northeast.

- Around the same time, while digging the foundations for the Hotel "Tiski cvet" in 1984, Milorad Aćimov, a construction technician, informed us of a new tunnel discovery. The location of the opening leading to the tunnel was on the west side of the future hotel, approximately in the middle of today's terrace. Unlike other tunnels that were quickly filled, this one remained open for a full two weeks. The tunnel was 1.5 meters high with a semi-arched vault made of bricks, and there was a layer of soil about 1 meter thick on it. The tunnel led towards the part of the building where the offices of PD "Sokolac" were located.

- The latest tunnel discovery occurred in the late summer of 2014 when underground cables were being installed for lampposts in the courtyard of the Catholic church. The works were carried out by Jožef Šimon and Laslo Sabo. According to their accounts, while digging the foundations for the second lamppost, seen from M. Tito Street, their shovel literally sank. When they cleared the soil a bit, they saw a hole about one square meter in size, 1.5 meters deep, with walls made of large bricks. According to Jožef Šimon, it probably was an old buried well, while Laslo Sabo tends to believe it was a ventilation opening for a tunnel.

 

This research is based on the written testimony of Ištvan Sekereš and the accounts of people who saw the tunnels: Milorad Azucki, Radovan Popov, Mihajlo Peskar, Milorad Aćimov, Mile Teofanovski, and Jožef Šimon.

Related Articles

Novi Bečej

Short History of Novi Bečej

Dubravka Nešović

Dubravka Nešović