Municipality of Novi Bečej, heir of the Faro Convention

In the spirit of shared heritage: Exploration and preservation of the cultural heritage of the Municipality of Novi Bečej alongside the significance of European heritage. This section represents a thorough analysis of the cultural treasures that adorn our municipality, while emphasizing its connection to the broader European context. Discover the rich tradition, architectural beauty, and cultural events that shape the identity of our community as we explore how heritage and innovation can together enrich our future. Through diverse texts, we delve into not only the wealth of heritage surrounding us but also the ways in which we preserve, revitalize, and share it with the world, bridging the past, present, and future.

Arača
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Development project for the protection and presentation of Arača in function of sustainable development

The most significant cultural monument in the territory of the Municipality of Novi Bečej is the Arača Basilica, a cultural asset of exceptional importance for the Republic of Serbia, and of special significance for the Hungarian national minority.
Considering the significance and values of the Arača church, as well as the ancient settlement whose remains have been confirmed by archaeological research, the issue of site presentation is very significant and demanding. The realization of the project requires a multidisciplinary team and a longer time period.

The project was initiated by the National Council of the Hungarian National Minority, the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, and the Municipality of Novi Bečej. The central segment of the project concerns conservation interventions on the building itself, while other segments should define the procedures and paths to achieve sustainable development of the site, which suggests great tourist potential.
The project encompasses comprehensive and complex construction craftsmanship, conservation-restoration, infrastructure, archaeological, and horticultural works for the final presentation of the medieval Arača basilica, with the remains of the settlement and fortifications. The ultimate goal is also the establishment of a research and visitor center.
The Arača site is located in a beautiful natural environment of gentle Vojvodina fields. The basilica is often visited by pilgrims, believers, and tourists who are amazed by the beauty of the former splendorous church, preserved in the remains of its walls.
The richness of finds at the site indicates a long-lasting presence of people, from prehistory to the 17th century. By presenting various artifacts from such a long time span, from different cultures and peoples, their influences, ways of life from prehistory to modern times, a highly attractive research-tourist point would be created, which would have great cultural, educational, scientific, religious, and any other value.
The project is comprehensive and long-term. Some segments have already been completed. The conservation project concerning the restoration, reconstruction, conservation, and presentation of the basilica itself has been completed, and works have been carried out according to it in the last five years. The works are financed by the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, the Provincial Secretariat for Culture, Public Information, and Relations with Religious Communities, the Municipality of Novi Bečej, the National Council of the Hungarian National Minority, and certain funds have been provided through participation in IPA projects of cross-border cooperation between Serbia and Hungary.
Although small and without a strong economy, the Municipality of Novi Bečej manages to allocate certain financial resources every year for the restoration of Arača. The most significant contribution is the construction of an access road through the area, from the regional road Novi Bečej-Novo Miloševo to the Arača site, with a length of about 5 kilometers.
Dragan Rauški, employed in urban planning in the Municipality, is the most active participant in the project. His efforts initiated the development of the Spatial Plan of the Municipality of Novi Bečej, which pays special attention to the Special Nature Reserve Slano Kopovo and the Arača site. He is active in securing funds for the construction of a substation and power lines to provide electricity for the future complex, works on reaching agreements with owners of surrounding fields for land exchange to make the Arača surroundings state property.
In addition to conservation works, significant segments of the project include archaeological research within and around the basilica, in the immediate vicinity of the medieval settlement, to determine the boundaries of its spread, the existence of multiple churches and palaces, city gates and walls, as well as the documentation and presentation of findings.

Creating an attractive archaeological site at Arača will attract a large number of visitors, not only believers but also enthusiasts of antiquity and nature, due to the opportunity to observe rare bird species in the nearby Slano Kopovo nature reserve.

The construction of a research and visitor center is the ultimate goal of the project in ensuring the sustainable development of the Arača basilica site. The center space would have multiple functions: welcoming visitors who would be presented with the history of the settlement and the Arača basilica through a permanent exhibition, while periodic exhibitions would showcase findings and research results. Some findings from previous decades of archaeological excavations, undertaken by the Museum of Vojvodina and the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, now stored in repositories, could find their place in the permanent museum exhibition. Also planned is the creation of a replica of the Arača Stone located in the National Gallery in Budapest.

A multipurpose hall intended for educating visitors, students, and schoolchildren, for hosting various seminars and conferences, will also enable non-commercial activities available to experts and researchers in the fields of history, archaeology, architecture, ornithology, and other disciplines to organize and implement scientific and research projects. Accommodation facilities for longer stays on-site will also be available to them.

The complex, which would include catering services, is planned at a sufficient distance from the basilica itself to ensure reverence for the sacred structure and spiritual preparation of believers along the access road.

The project's goal is to secure funds for the conservation and scientific presentation of the basilica remains, the settlement, archaeological finds, infrastructure development of the site (water, electricity, access roads, parking lots, etc.) for easier and continuous access to the location, employment of local residents, as well as raising awareness of the heritage values ​​and the values ​​of coexistence of various peoples who inhabited this area through the centuries.

New facilities should architecturally reflect the values ​​of the old basilica, one of the most beautiful and oldest in AP Vojvodina in church construction, one of the few with characteristics of Romanesque-Gothic architecture and ornamentation, thus attracting an even larger number of believers and pilgrims, as well as others who enjoy the beauties of landscapes, old buildings, researchers, and scientists, and those who seek solace in divine providence.

By strengthening ties with Hungary, an increase in tourist visits by organized groups and a large number of buses are expected, which will also impact the improvement of the infrastructure of this part of Banat, as well as certain economic growth in the products of this region and the local population. This will deepen the ties between the two peoples, as well as among the local population.

Increased visits will also improve the economic position of the site itself, which, after the construction of accompanying facilities, will generate its own funds for self-financing activities, maintenance, and renovation of old and new buildings and capacities.

Adding to the attractiveness of the project would be the announcement of a public architectural-urban planning competition for the conceptual design of the entire site and the construction of accompanying facilities, according to the conditions of the cultural and natural heritage protection service. The competition could also have an international character.

To realize such a complex project, the active involvement of the local self-government - the Municipality of Novi Bečej (and due to proximity and shared history, it is possible to reach an agreement on cooperation with the Municipality of Bečej as well), provincial secretariats for culture, environmental protection, economic development, as well as expert teams from the Republic, Provincial, and Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments from Zrenjanin, and the Museum of Vojvodina, is necessary.

Through joint efforts, high standards can be achieved in all planned activities and align with European projects of similar orientation.

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