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.

Introduction

Introduction

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.

A Brief History of the Foundation and Urban Development of Novi Bečej

Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Novi BečejIn the present area of Novi Bečej and its immediate surroundings, there were human settlements as early as ca. 3000 B.C. There were two extraordinary archaeological sites of this period in the vicinity of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo: Borđoš and Matejski Brod.[1]

The most famous remains from the Medieval period are the ones of the basilica Arača, located in the area between Novi Bečej and Novo Miloševo, at the distance of about 20 kilometers northeast from the city. The monastery was probably built in the first half of the 13th century.[2] While changing its owners, this monastery was reconstructed and expanded, and so its outer shape and inner content has been changing too.

Spatial Cultural-Historical Unit - Center of Novi Bečej

The building of the old district officesProtected spatial cultural-historical unit Center of Novi Bečej, is a well-preserved old center of the borough settlements, organized according to the administrative provisions and laws of the late 18th and early 19th century in Vojvodina, with authentic standardized old municipal buildings from the late 18th century, preserved until today, as well as the Serbian Orthodox Church St. Nicholas, built in the second half of the 18th century. The houses in the main street of Marshal Tito and Trg Slobode (Liberty Square) are mostly two-storey buildings, built in the 19th century until the First World War, with a preserved authentic look and allotment. With its architectural-stylistic values and the role in the historical events, political, cultural and educational life of the city, the valorized architectural heritage gave this unit an important place in the history of the Serbian people in Vojvodina and Serbia.

Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas

Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas

According to historical sources known so far, several years have been suggested regarding the commencement of the construction work of the Novi Bečej temple and all of them are within the second half of the 18th century. According to the record on the church itself, it was built in 1774. While writing about the history of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo, Lazar Mečkić contests this year, citing data from multiple historical sources. The book of Dr. Jene Sentklarai The History of a Parish of the Čanada Diocese states that the current large church was built in 1786. Dimitrije Ruvarac in Schematism of Eastern Orthodox Serbian Metropolitanate of Karlovci (Sr. Karlovci, 1900) mentions the year 1794, while Dr. Samu Borowsky in Torontúl vármegye (Budapest, 1911), suggests 1796, but this date is connected with the description of Vranjevo.15

Architectural and stylistic characteristics of the church

Architectural and stylistic characteristics of the church

The Church of St. Nicholas in Novi Bečej is a single-nave building with a bell tower above the western facade, an elongated space of the nave, and an altar apse on the eastern side, externally and internally pentagonal.

It is constructed of brick, then plastered. The roof is a pitched double-slope covered with clay tiles. Besides the main portal on the western side, the church has two side entrances, on the northern and southern sides.

The iconostasis of the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Novi Bečej

The iconostasis of the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Novi Bečej

The existence of the iconostasis of Stefan Gavrilović in a town Novi Bečej, in the Middle Banat, is not easy to explain when we know that the location of his creative work was almost always on the territory of Srem. That was admitted by O. Milanović-Jović while she was studying his work, back in the seventies of the 20th century; however based on her study Gavrilović was being credited for his work in Bečej in the first place.