Church of Saint Nicholas: History and significance of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Novi Bečej

Dive into the past through the story of the Church of Saint Nicholas in Novi Bečej, the famous Serbian Orthodox Church that proudly carries the burden of centuries of history and spirituality of this region. This feat of construction symbolizes togetherness and faithfulness, representing at the same time a monument to past times and a place of faith that gathers the community in prayer and worship.



The Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Novi Bečej is the second presented structure in the series "History of Art – Protected Cultural Monuments in the Municipality of Novi Bečej," following the house of Vladimir Glavaš in Vranjevo. Alongside the residences of wealthier citizens, their palaces, summer houses, and castles within the territory of the Municipality of Novi Bečej, numerous church buildings of great significance have been preserved – both Orthodox and Roman Catholic temples. In this relatively small area, a total of fourteen have been documented, including the Medieval Basilica in Arač, with 11 declared as protected cultural monuments.

Among the protected monuments are: the Medieval Basilica in Arač (located 14 km northeast of Novi Bečej), the chapel "Manastir" and the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, the Pulai family chapel with a Calvary on the Catholic cemetery, the chapel of St. George on the Orthodox cemetery (endowment of Milanko Stanković) in Novi Bečej, the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist in Vranjevo, the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Archangel Gabriel in Bočar, the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Stephen, and the Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Novo Miloševo, as well as the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel in Kuman.

The valorization of the heritage of the Municipality of Novi Bečej is based on a comprehensive analysis of historical, social, natural, and cultural factors that have shaped and defined the identity of settlements in this municipality. These places have a highly valuable architectural heritage and a unique history for each inhabited area.

Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Novi BečejKey events in Novi Bečej have been recorded since the late 18th century when the Novi Bečej estate was acquired in 1782 by the merchant Pavle Hadžimihajlo after the sale of state-owned property. Just a decade later, the construction of the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas began. At that time, Novi Bečej became an example of a clearly defined spiritual, educational, and cultural space in a multiethnic environment, reflecting the desires of Serbs, Hungarians, Germans, and Jews to preserve the national, religious, and cultural identity of their communities. The town always aspired not to lag behind the richer and more developed European architectural tradition.

In connection with this, the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin, near the Tisa River in Novi Bečej, is one of the oldest church buildings, built around 1741. Before it, there was a smaller place of worship, built of wattle or clay in 1731. It is believed that there was once an Orthodox monastery on that site, even during the Ottoman era, hence the current church being called a monastery.

The settlement expanded northward, and a new and larger Serbian Orthodox Church dedicated to St. Nicholas was built at the end of the 18th century, a bit further from the Tisa. Klara Sisanji, a generous donor, was buried in the nave of this church on September 9, 1830. It is assumed that she donated funds for the iconostasis, painted in 1804. Even before 1739, a Catholic chapel made of brick was built in Novi Bečej, shortly after the arrival of the Hungarians. The present Roman Catholic Church was constructed with the funds of Klara Sisanji from 1804 to 1809 and is dedicated to St. Clare of Assisi.

Evangelicals are first mentioned in Novi Bečej in 1820. They built their Evangelical (Lutheran) church in the second half of the 19th century.

The Jewish synagogue was built in 1865 and was located at 16 Žarko Zrenjanin Street. Next to it was the residence of the cantor (assistant to the rabbi). Unfortunately, the synagogue was demolished immediately after World War II, and residential buildings were erected in its place.

In addition to socio-historical and urbanistic values, a significant element in the valorization of the protected Spatial Cultural-Historical Unit, the Center of Novi Bečej, is the natural environment. The proximity to the Tisa River, onto whose bank the protected unit directly extends, provides ecological and visual value to the whole area. Along with the preserved architectural heritage, it is considered a potential for the future sustainable development of this place.

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