The Petrovaradin Fortress (Novi Sad, Serbia)
The cornerstone of this mighty fortress on the right bank of the Danube river, also known as the “Gibraltar on the Danube”, was laid on 18th of October 1692. Its construction lasted until 1780. No wonder when you take into account the fact that there are 16 km (!) of underground ways and tunnels that have survived until today, a countermine system that once made the fortress unbeatable.
Recent researches show, that this prominent place, a rock some 40 m above the Danube and 125 m above sea level, has been chosen even in prehistoric times as a place for defence. The earliest evidence of humans dates back to 19,000 – 15,000 B C. Also in the Bronze Age, around 3,000 BC, people hid here and built fortifications. The Romans built a castrum (fort) called Cusum , to be part of the Danube Limes fortifications. In 1235, French monks of the Cistercians came in by order of King Bela IV of Hungary, to build a walled monastery on the ruins of the Roman fortress until 1252. Although further fortified, this fortress could not hold against the Ottoman invasion in 1526. A series of wars between Austria and Turkish armies followed, culminating in the Great Turkish War of 1687. This was the background of the birth of the Petrovaradin fortress, decided in 1692. The first siege started in 1694, Austria was victorious with Prince Eugene of Savoy, between 1697 and, decisively, in 1716. Further outworks were built in the period of 1753 – 1776, and the visit of Austrian Emperor Joseph II, in 1768, caused the building of the monumental tunnel system, built on 4 different levels. The finish of works made the Petrovaradin Fortress, covering an area of 100 ha and witha defense line of 5200 m (!), the biggest Austrian stronghold and the Gibraltar on the Danube. No more Turkish attack happened. The last heavy siege happened during Hungarian revolution in 1849, when Austrian troops wanted to force the Hungarians to surrender. The result was the bombing of Novi Sad, with two thirds of the the city destroyed. After WW I, the Petrovaradin Fortress was part of the kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and then Yugoslavia.
The whole military complex is divided into the Lower Town and the Upper Town. The Lower Town had residences of the officers of the fortress. The most impressive ones are the Baroque style Belgrade Gate from 1745 and the Monastery of St George (please refer to the section Novi Sad, Religious places in and around Novi Sad). In the Upper Town (the real fortress), one may admire the former barracks and a curiosity: The clock tower (18th century) of the fortress, the symbolic icon of Novi Sad: with the minute and the hour hands reversed. It was made in this way because theDanube fishermen wanted to see the time more easily, even from a larger distance. This old mechanic clock also runs faster in summertime.
The most prominent is the biggest pop festival in the Southeastern Europe, the EXIT Festival, happening each year in the Upper Town (in July). The Upper Town is also the place for the new World Tamburica Festival, in June (for both, please refer to the section Novi Sad, festivities and events).