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.

Municipality of Novi Bečej
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The wealth of cultural heritage in the territory of the municipality of Novi Bečej

The architectural heritage of the Novi Bečej Municipality is diverse in typology, covering the period from the late 18th century to the emergence of modernism in architecture. In addition to ambient complexes, there are individual objects of religious and civil architecture, ethnological, as well as objects of industrial, technical, and hydraulic culture. The majority of individual objects, mostly religious ones, are categorized as cultural monuments of great significance, with the most important cultural monument being the medieval church of Arača, which has been designated as a cultural asset of exceptional importance to the Republic of Serbia.

Within the municipality's territory, there are twenty-one designated cultural assets, including twenty cultural monuments and one archaeological site. In the process of designation as cultural assets are the Spatial Cultural-Historical Unit "Old Core of Vranjevo" and the Hertelendi - Bajić Castle in Bočar, while the Spatial Cultural-Historical Unit "Center of Novi Bečej" is in the final stage of drafting the Decision proposal.

Sacral objects
Medieval Church Arača
This cultural monument of exceptional importance is located in the area between Novi Bečej and Novi Milošev. Since the beginning of the 18th century, after the departure of the Turks from Banat, it has been in ruins. The layout of this impressive building, as well as its spatial arrangement, is characteristic of churches in the transitional variant of the Romanesque-Gothic style and suggests the possibility that it was built at the beginning of the 13th century. The monumental ambitions of the builders are evidenced by the materials used - hewn stone and brick. The church is a three-nave basilica without a transept, with three semicircular apses. All aisles were vaulted with cross vaults. At the end of the 14th century, a Gothic bell tower was added above the northeast bay. Rich architectural decoration on the facades (blind arcades, pilasters, columns, a large rose window on the west facade) is preserved in fragments. The capitals and consoles have diverse decorative sculpture with figurative and vegetal motifs. During excavations in the 19th century, a stone slab with a representation of saints and donors, decorated with a triple interlaced ribbon, dating back to the 12th century, was discovered in Arača. Recent archaeological research confirms that there were monasteries and numerous graves on the north side of the church. Conservation works were carried out during 1972-1976, and in the last few years.

Novi Bečej was a multinational and multi-confessional community, as evidenced by religious objects of different faiths and nations.

Most significant temples

The Novobečej Orthodox Church dedicated to Saint Nicholas was built at the end of the 18th century in the neoclassical style. Contrary to the measured and harmoniously designed wall panels, the interior of the church exudes Baroque splendor. The iconostasis partition, whose architectural structure is covered with carved vegetal ornaments, bears forty representations of standing figures of saints and church holidays, painted by Stefan Gavrilović in 1804. One of the first representatives of Serbian Romanticism, Pavle Simić, executed wall paintings on the altarpieces and the nave in 1858. The church also preserves a number of valuable liturgical objects, with special attention given to the icon of the Mother of God with Christ, created in the best tradition of post-Byzantine iconography.
The Vranjeva Church of Saint John the Baptist, built in the early 19th century, has the usual facade decoration characteristic of Vojvodina religious buildings from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It boasts a magnificent interior with an iconostasis and wall paintings, executed by Jefimije Popović in the fourth decade of the 19th century.
Another valuable religious object is the Chapel called Monastery. It is located at an ancient cult site near the Tisa River - where, according to tradition, the Turks burned a Serbian monastery. It was built in the 18th century as a single-nave building with a semicircular apse and a tower above the western part of the church. The greatest value of the Novi Bečej Chapel is the movable material preserved, apparently from the older church. Particularly interesting is a triptych from the early 18th century, which carries the representation of Saint George slaying the dragon in the central field, while scenes from the saint's life are depicted on the side wings. Imperial doors, Crucifixion, and the throne icon of Saint John are parts of an older iconostasis and are kept in the "Monastery" along with numerous other icons by unknown authors from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

On the main street, Marshal Tito Street, you'll find the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to Saint Clare of Assisi, built in the first half of the 19th century. A little further from the center, you'll encounter the Reformed Church from the second half of the 19th century. Unfortunately, only the street fence remains of the synagogue, which was demolished during World War II.

In the Orthodox Church of Saint Archangel Michael in the village of Bočar, there is a valuable iconostasis dating back to the second half of the 18th century, originally belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Vranjevo, from where it was purchased in 1826 and transferred to Bočar. There are reasons to believe that this iconostasis is the work of the Bečkerek painters Dimitrije and Teodor Popović, as evidenced by the Baroque-Rococo stylistic characteristics.

The iconostasis and wall paintings of the church in Kumanovo, dedicated to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, from the second decade of the 19th century, were painted by Nikola Aleksić in 1854. He also painted icons, thrones, and choirs, Christ's tomb, as well as wall paintings on the church vault in Beodra. As a student of Arsa Teodorović, he was one of the most prolific painters of the first half of the 19th century, transitioning from classicism and Biedermeier to hints of romanticism throughout his four-decade-long career.

In Novo Miloševo, formed by the merging of two villages, Dragutinova and Beodra, there are three churches, two Orthodox and one Roman Catholic.

The Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel (Dragutinovo) was built in 1842 with eclectic features containing decorative elements of historical styles. The iconostasis, choirs, thrones, Christ's tomb, and the vault above the narthex were painted by Nikola Aleksić in 1854, while other wall paintings were done by Jozef Gojgner in 1872.

The Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Stephen (Beodra) was built in 1870 on the site of an older church from the mid-18th century. The church has simple decoration, without distinct stylistic features. Its appearance was significantly altered in the 1970s. The interior of the church is valuable due to the splendid iconostasis transferred from the previous, older church, crafted by the painter Teodor Popović from the renowned Veliki Bečkerek artistic family.

The Roman Catholic Church of Saint Mary Magdalene (Beodra) was built by Laslo and Lajoš Karačonji between 1838 and 1841. The church is a monumental neoclassical building with two bell towers, a rarity in Vojvodina. The entrance to the crypt, where members of the Karačonji family are buried, is on the apse. The interior is characterized by rich stucco decoration and valuable altar paintings.

Castles and Summer Residences

The intense economic activity that marked the past of these regions is also evident in the castles, of which there are five in the territory of the municipality. Three castles are cultural assets, and two in the village of Bočar are under preliminary protection, with the Hertelendi - Bajić Castle undergoing the process of designation as a cultural monument.

In the Novi Bečej area, a few kilometers away from the town, you'll find Sokolac Castle, built at the end of the 19th century in the neoclassical style by Lazar Dunđerski as his residential palace. The building has all the characteristics of neoclassical palatial castles that emerged in the 19th century in today's territory of AP Vojvodina, surrounded by a park and economic buildings.

On Biserno Island stands Rohonci Castle, built at the end of the 19th century on the estate of Baron Gedeon Rohonci, as a summer residence of a once highly developed and globally renowned agricultural property.

Karačonji Castle in Beodra, now Novo Miloševo, is categorized as a monument of great importance and represents one of the most magnificent and monumental castles in AP Vojvodina. It has over forty rooms. It was built by the landowner and nobleman Laslo Karačonji in 1846 in the neoclassical style. In addition to the castle, part of the former Karačonji estate includes an "agricultural town" with a grain warehouse and a roundhouse, rare examples in the field of agricultural heritage.

As part of the summer residences and castles in AP Vojvodina, these cultural monuments occupy prominent positions and represent significant links in the development of residential architecture, while the agricultural estates in which they were built also hold importance for the history of agriculture and economy. However, this heritage is also the most endangered, as none of the castles are in good condition and accessible to the public, meaning they are not used for cultural or touristic purposes.

Technical Culture Object - Grain Warehouse in Novi Bečej

The oldest preserved technical culture object, almost in its original form, is the Grain Warehouse, built around 1780. Novi Bečej, due to its favorable geographical location surrounded by fertile arable land and its access to the Tisa River, was a center of wheat trade in the region during the 19th century. The Grain Warehouse is a significant technical culture object that testifies to the former way of storing and preserving wheat, and its original function has been preserved to this day. According to sources, there were dozens of such warehouses in Novi Bečej in the 19th century. The massive single-story building of elongated rectangular shape was built next to the embankment at the former mouth of the Little Begej River into the Tisa River. Inside the Warehouse, all the constructive and functional elements made of quality oak are preserved: columns, beams, rafters, purlins, floors, staircases, and fences. The Grain Warehouse is designated as a cultural asset.

Archaeological Site - Matejski Brod

Among the numerous archaeological sites, Matejski Brod stands out, located northeast of Novi Bečej, on the banks of the former riverbed of the Little Begej River. Matejski Brod contains a continuity in the transition of settlements from the Starčevo culture to the early Vinča culture, above which a settlement of the late Pannonian culture formed. The most significant stages of the site are the construction phases of above-ground structures. Neolithic houses of rectangular shape, built of massive beams with floors and subfloors, have been discovered. They mostly had two rooms and, presumably, a double-slope roof. The remains of walls and floors show that wattle and daub were plastered with clay. The first systematic excavations were conducted in the period from 1949 to 1952, and continued in 1962.

Given that architectural heritage in the Republic of Serbia is generally in poor condition due to the lack of permanent maintenance and regular sources of funding, it can be said that the Novi Bečej Municipality is one of the rare municipalities in Serbia that doesn't treat its architectural heritage as a burden but as a value, seeing it as both an economic and cultural potential and an integral part of regional development. Despite insufficient financial resources, the Novi Bečej Municipality finds ways and various financing models for the restoration and revitalization of its architectural heritage. In the last ten years, a significant part of the historical buildings within the Cultural-Historical Complex "Center of Novi Bečej" (Schlesinger Palace, building of the Elementary and High School, Turkish-Bečej Savings Bank, People's Library, District Court building, St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, and several privately-owned houses) and the Cultural-Historical Complex "Old Center of Vranjevo" (Orthodox Church, Glavaš House, old municipal building, and Roman Catholic Church) have been renovated. The cooperation between the Novi Bečej Municipality and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Zrenjanin is at an admirable level and can serve as an example to other municipalities.

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