Petrovaradin Castle (Петроварадинска тврђава)

Petrovaradin Castle


Location: Novi Sad  Map

Construction: 1692- 1776


Description of Petrovaradin Castle

Petrovaradin Castle is situated in the town of Novi Sad in Vojvodina region of Serbia.  Petrovaradin Castle was constructed in 1692- 1776 by duke Charles Eugène de Croÿ on site that was continuously inhabited by humans since Paleolithic period (19,000 to 15,000 BC). Constructed at the time of gun powder and massive cannons, you will not see any tall mountains and impressive walls. Much of the castle uses the earthworks of the hill to defend the military garrison inside. Underground tunnels served its defenders for supply and living quarters.


According to earlier information, the first human settlement on the Petrovaradin Fortress existed as early as 4500 BC. After archeological discoveries in the period from 2002 to 2004, the history of this area was moved to the period of 19,000-15,000 BC. Thanks to that, we know that man continuously inhabited the area of ​​the Petrovaradin rock from prehistory to the present day, and even the Paleolithic, when human habitats were mostly located in caves. Also, archeological excavations during 2018 have shown that the area of ​​the Lower Fortress has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

By researching the remains of settlements from the Late Bronze Age (3000 BC), archaeologists have found ramparts reinforced with stakes and palisades from that period, which testify that it was still in the time of the so-called of the Vučedol culture there was a fortified settlement.

Middle Ages
After the Neolithic, different cultures changed on the Petrovaradin rock. About a hundred years before the new era, this area was inhabited by Celts who were replaced a hundred years later by the Romans, who built the fortress of Kuzum (lat. Cusum) by fortifying the border on the Danube, which would be destroyed by the Huns in the fifth century. The name for the fortification that was located on the site of today's Petrovaradin fortress in Byzantine times was 'Petrikon'.

In the middle of the 13th century, Catholic monks from the Cistercian order (lat. Ordo cisterciensis) settled in almost the same place. With the permission of the Hungarian king Bela IV, they built a monastery called Belafons (Serbian: Белин извор, Hungarian: Bélakút). The monastery was fortified after the Tatar invasion.

The fortress gained greater importance with the increased danger from the new conqueror - the Ottoman Turks. Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus often stayed in Petrovaradin. There, in 1463, he concluded a treaty with the Venetian Republic and at the same time talked with the nobleman about the defense against the Turks. In 1475, Corvinus decided to go to war with the Turks. Hungarian King Vladislav II also visits Petrovaradin, where he encourages efforts to gather more manpower to repair towers and ramparts with various reliefs. In 1501, Archbishop Petar Varadi managed to rebuild the fortress with great efforts.

The appearance of the Petrovaradin fortress in the Middle Ages
The fortress consisted of two parts - external and internal. The main gate of the outer wall, which had a small movable wooden bridge, was built during the 15th century. In front of the outer wall of the fortress was a deep ditch. The outer wall had all the hemispheres reinforced with supporting pillars only on the east side. From the outer gate, it led to the gate of the inner fortress, which was rectangular in shape. The east wall of the inner fortress was a common wall with the outer wall. Where they were joined, it was reinforced with hemispheres. This wall was also reinforced with supporting sloping pillars and had two hemispheres on the west side as reinforcement. In the middle of the inner fortress was a church whose apse was facing east. There were round water tanks on both sides of the church. The commander's palace was located in the northwestern part of the inner fortress. On the left bank of the Danube, there was a bridge around which was a trench filled with water. On the west side of the bridge wall, there was a tower for an artillery battery with five openings for cannons. There were gates on the north and south sides of the wall.

In his record of Evliya lebelebi about the Petrovaradin fortress, he says:
The city of Varadim lies on the banks of the Danube, its citadel has a hexagonal shape and is located on a high hill that rises in the sky under the clouds. It is an inaccessible, solid and truly old city ... The city has seven large towers, all bastions are built harmoniously ... The fortress has only two hundred boarded houses without fences and gardens, then Sulejman Khan's mosque, ammunition depot and grain barns ... On the southeast side there are only hills and all the vineyards on them.


New century

The rule of the Turks
In 1525, there were only 1,000 cavalry and 500 infantry in the Petrovaradin fortress, and at the end of the year that number increased to 4,000 soldiers. Before the danger from the Turks, the command over Petrovaradin was taken over by Pavle Timori, the former commander of the city of Buda. His demands for reinforcements in the army and money did not arrive. Instead of help, King Lajos II only instructed him to move with the main forces to the left bank of the Danube and leave the command over the fortress to George Alapius.

On July 13, 1526, a Turkish army of 40,000 men led by Grand Vizier Ibrahim arrived under the walls of Petrovaradin. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent encamped near Ilok with the majority of his forces. After a two-week siege and with the use of a mine attack, the Turks managed to conquer the fortress, whose almost all defenders were killed. Petrovaradin remained under Turkish rule, as did a large part of the Hungarian state, until the Great Vienna War (1683-1699).

After the invasion of Austria and the unsuccessful siege of Vienna, the Turkish army began to withdraw and in a series of defeats left most cities as well as Petrovaradin. The majority of the imperial Austrian army, which consisted of 27 battalions of infantry and 77 squadrons of cavalry, arrived in Petrovaradin on July 18, 1688. In the presence of this army, about 3,000 soldiers were determined to work on strengthening the fortress. Only the gaps were repaired and a trench with four redoubts was built on the site of today's Podgrađe in front of which the trench was filled with water. There were also seven abandoned and burned houses. A pontoon bridge was also built. After the expulsion of the Turks from Petrovaradin, the demolition of the old medieval fortress began in order to begin the construction of a new one according to the then most modern system of building fortifications. Wanting to regain the lost fortress, the Turks began several campaigns. They suffered terrible defeats in the battles near Slankamen in 1691 and the battles near Senta in 1697, and due to bad weather conditions they left the siege of Petrovaradin in 1694.

The siege of 1694
Before the danger from the Turks, a lot of work was done on the Petrovaradin fortress. Two belts of earthen trenches were built on the south side of the fortress. This element of the Polish fortification was first mentioned in 1692 and was duplicated in 1694 by order of Count Carafe. Grand Vizier Surmeli Ali-pasha arrived from the direction of Belgrade before the Petrovaradin Fortress on September 9, 1694. The Turkish war fleet sailed the Danube. The intention was to lay siege to the fortress. The bombing began on September 12 from land and water. The concentration of Turkish artillery fire was on the trenches, the water city, two lines upstream from the bridgehead and the Austrian army in front of the bridgehead. The deployment of Turkish artillery on the Great War Island during this siege will later lead to the construction of a small fortification on that site. In front of the earthen trenches, the Turks made the first parallel from which they dug their hooves towards the trenches in order to start a mine attack. They also tried to destroy two pontoon bridges by throwing logs into the Danube, and they sent swimmers to cut the ropes that held the pontoon bridges with scissors. Relying on the fortress, the Austrians tried to break the siege with an outburst on September 14, but were repulsed. However, they managed to prevent the pontoon bridges from breaking. Preserving the pontoon bridges, the Austrians transferred the cavalry and infantry that arrived from Futog as reinforcements. Attacks on Turkish positions continued until September 19, but also without success. Meanwhile, the Shayka flotilla seized Turkish shayks downstream, which were intended for food supply. Everyday battles, rain, winds, great cold exhausted the Turks. A great torrent flooded the Turkish trenches and took away the tents. The new troubles and the appearance of epidemics among the Turkish army, as well as the approach of the upcoming winter after only 23 days of siege, began the retreat towards Belgrade.


The beginning of the reconstruction of the fortress and the battle of 1716
The catastrophic defeat of the Turkish army near Senta created favorable conditions for the Austrians at the peace negotiations in Karlovac in 1699. The first plan for the construction of the fortress was made by the engineering colonel Count Matthias Kaisersfeld, and the next engineering colonel was Count Luigi Ferdinando Marsigli. Colonel Michel Wamberg, an engineer, was in charge of the work, and after his death (1703), Colonel Giessenbir was an engineer until 1728. The fortress was slowly getting its shape. Bastions, ravelins and buttresses were built on the upper fortress. The foundations of permanent buildings have been laid. A new bridgehead and a small fortification on the Great War Island were built. The ramparts of the lower fortress were built in 1711.

The works were interrupted by the outbreak of the new Austro-Turkish War (1716-1718). In an effort to change the decisions of the Peace of Karlovac, Turkey undertook a campaign against Austria. Prince Eugene of Savoy came to Futog on July 9, 1716 with 42,000 infantry (62 battalions) and 23,000 cavalry (187 companies). There were already 8,000 soldiers in the Petrovaradin fortress. On July 26, 27 and 28, Grand Vizier Damad Ali Pasha crossed the Sava with about 120,000 soldiers (about 40,000 janissaries, 30,000 cavalry and infantry composed of Albanians and Vlachs). On August 2, there was a conflict between Petrovaradin and Karlovac. Count Johan Palfi, with 1,300 cavalry and about 500 infantry, encountered 15,000 Turkish cavalry. After several hours of battle, Palfi withdrew to Petrovaradin. Surrounding Petrovaradin, the Turkish army began bombing and digging trenches towards the fortress. On the other hand, during the night between August 4 and 5, Eugene transferred his troops to the Srem side and in the early morning attacked the Turkish army, which did not expect an attack. The left wing of the Austrian army under the command of Count Alexander Württemberg struck hard at the Turkish right wing. Together with the left wing, the Austrian center attacked the janissaries, who strongly opposed and repulsed the attack and pushed it into the center. By regrouping forces in the center, Eugene managed to stop the attack and the left wing was given an open path to the place where Damad Ali Pasha was, who was watching the battle in front of his tent from the highest hill. With the blow of the right wing and the reserve troops of the Austrian army, the Turkish line of defense began to fire. The cavalry that was supposed to help the janissaries turned and left the battlefield. Panic and disorder arose among the Turkish soldiers, which spread to the command. The battle was resolved by 11 o'clock. The Turkish army retreated towards Belgrade in a panic, and the Grand Vizier was killed. There are several versions of his death. One says that seeing the hopeless situation, he got on a horse and, together with a group of the most loyal fighters, flew into the heart of the battle, where he was hit by a bullet while the other committed suicide. The lifeless body of the Grand Vizier was transferred to the Belgrade Fortress, where he was buried. The great offensive tactics of Eugene of Savoy and the leadership of the troops of his generals solved the battle with a doubly numerically superior enemy in four hours. Austrian losses amounted to 2,212 soldiers killed, 2,358 wounded, of which 206 officers. The losses on the other hand are estimated at around 6,000-7,000 soldiers. The Austrians seized a huge amount of war material. The data on the seized material are quite different. Turkish sources state that 110 cannons were lost. The value of the entire seizure was estimated at 2,500,000 guilders at the time. This great battle left traces that can still be seen in the toponyms surrounding the hills: Vezirac, Alibegovac and Tatarsko brdo. After the battle of Petrovaradin, Eugene conquered Timisoara and Belgrade the following year, which provided favorable conditions for making peace with Pozarevac, which gave Austria Banat, Little Wallachia and the northern part of Serbia.

Continuation of the construction of the fortress
As the border between Austria and Turkey was moved from Srem to central Serbia, the Petrovaradin Fortress remained in the background and less important. Construction work was slowed down and a standstill occurred in 1728. Until 1753, only what was most necessary was done on the fortress. None of the started facilities were completed. The report of the commission of the War Council from 1735 shows that the eastern side of the hornwork was open and the earthen ramparts of the lower fortress were neglected and half demolished. A plan has been proposed to address these shortcomings, but there has been no progress.

The sweeping works on the fortress, which began in 1753, changed the appearance of the water city, the upper fortress, the bridgehead, the "hornwork", and the unbuilt walls of the "kronverka" were demolished. New barracks, gunpowder warehouses, stables and cannon sheds and stables are being built. These works were done until 1766.


In 1764, Major Schröder, a military engineer and commander of the mining corps, began plans to build a minefield system (underground military gallery) under the 16 km long "hornwork". The construction of the countermine system lasted until 1776.

Officially, the last works on the construction of the fortress were done in 1780, but the works were extended until 1790, when the Petrovaradin fortress became the most modern armed fortress of the entire Habsburg monarchy. At that time, its armament consisted of 400 artillery weapons of various calibers, which was an extremely large number at the time.

Free shooting company
Petrovaradin gained a privileged status within the Srem military border, but not in the form of a military community, but as a Free Shooting Company (Frey Schützen Compagnie). This happened on October 31, 1748, when the General Engelshofen Regulation came into force, which was confirmed by the Court War Council on March 10, 1751. As a Free Shooting Company, Petrovaradin was included in the Petrovaradin Regiment, but the Court War Council had jurisdiction over it. Vienna, which realized it through the commander of the Petrovaradin Fortress.

The company had 220 civilian shooters, and its main goal was to defend the fortress in case of a siege, as well as to supply the army in the Fortress and to serve the officers and military officers in it. By the way, all of them were released from the regular military border service. At the head of the Company, as a government body, was a captain appointed by the Slavonian General Command, whose center was in Osijek.

Full members of the Company, ie archers, underwent military training, partly with cannons, as artillerymen, and partly with rifles as archers. The company had its own seal, coat of arms and flag on which the citizens took the oath of allegiance. The inhabitants of the Company were divided into two categories: free shooters (or citizens) and beggars. In 1766, there were 370 civilian (shooting) and 70 Bečar families in the Company.

The inhabitants of Petrovaradin at that time were Austrian Germans and Germans from the Reich, Czechs, Shocks, and to a lesser extent Armenians, Cincari and Jews, and later Serbs from the Bukovac Community joined Petrovaradin in 1777.

In 1787, the Free Shooter Company ceased to exist, and Petrovaradin was de facto and formally granted the status of a community. When the civil militia (Landver) was created in 1808, the Petrovaradin community, including Bukovac, was supposed to contain two companies or companies, as a reserve for the crew in the fortress during the great war danger.

Fortress in the 19th century
Wanting to help the First Serbian Uprising, the citizens of Novi Sad paid bribe-paying Austrian officers with gold coins, and managed to smuggle two cannons from the Petrovaradin Fortress.

After the collapse of the First Serbian Uprising, its leader, leader Djordje Petrovic, along with some other leaders of the uprising, was detained in the Petrovaradin Fortress.

As during the 18th century, so in the 19th century, that is. from its founding in 1750 to 1880, units of the Petrovaradin Regiment took part in 30 wars and over 140 battles fought by Austria throughout Europe.

After the great floods in 1827 and 1832, a small fortification (Inzelshanac) sank in the Danube, which was built on the Great War Island.

The revolutionary events that engulfed Austria in 1848 did not bypass Petrovaradin or Novi Sad. The garrison of the Petrovaradin Fortress approached the leader of the revolution, Lajos Kossuth. Counter-revolutionary units under the command of Ban Josip Jelačić, entering Novi Sad on June 12, 1849, provoked a reaction from the garrison, which opened artillery fire on the city and almost completely destroyed it.

The first World War
After the Sarajevo assassination, the government's attitude towards the Slavic population deteriorated greatly. In Petrovaradin, the work of the Croatian Singing Society "Neven", the Croatian Reading Room and the Croatian Falcon was banned. After the penetration of the Serbian army in Srem in 1914, a large number of Serbs from Srem were arrested. Most of them were interned in Petrovaradin and placed in already prepared camps. There were over 2,000 people in the camp. Some have been charged with high treason and brought before a military court. They were sentenced to death and shot at the Petrovaradin Fortress on October 14, 1914. Three days later, the court sentenced another 37 people to death, who were immediately executed.

Austro-Hungarian non-commissioned officer Josip Broz was detained in Petrovaradin. Petrovaradin became one of the very important traffic hubs where Austro-Hungarian forces crossed the Danube. As the pontoon bridge was insufficient for the transfer of the army, a temporary bridge was built on wooden pillars, the so-called Pojorek's bridge. The bridge had electric lighting and was guarded by a hundred soldiers.


During the war, a large number of prisoners from the Balkan and Italian fronts were housed in Petrovaradin. They were used as free labor to build an embankment on the right bank of the Danube. A large number of wounded were in the Petrovaradin Military Hospital. For a while, the War Command against Serbia was located in Petrovaradin.

After the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front and the liberation of Serbia, the Serbian army continued to advance to the north and on November 9, 1918, entered Petrovaradin together with French colonial troops from Senegal under the command of Major Vojislav Bugarski.

Petrovaradin Fortress between the two world wars
In the first years after the First World War, the Petrovaradin Fortress remained without fortifications on the left bank of the Danube. Back in 1919, the then mayor of Novi Sad, Jovan Živojnović, announced that he would ask the new military authorities to hand over Mostobran to the city. The newspapers then wrote that "a characteristic remnant of the black-and-yellow rule in this area will disappear, as well as a hotbed of contagious miasms, which poisoned the air of the promenade and contributed to malaria, which Novi Sad became famous for." the surrounding area is under the jurisdiction of the city of Novi Sad and its demolition is allowed. Between 1922 and 1924, during the construction of the first permanent road-pedestrian bridge over the Danube between Petrovaradin and Novi Sad, almost the entire bridgehead was demolished. At the same time, during the construction of the access road on the right bank of the Danube, the Water Gate was demolished, as well as a part of the casemate rooms of the western part of the Water City.

Immediately before the Second World War, in 1939, works were carried out on the widening of the road to Kamenica and Petrovaradin. Along the right bank of the Danube, a part of the Water Retrenchment and the Inner Stone Gate were demolished, while parts of the outer fortifications were demolished in front of the Belgrade Gate. In addition to rare photographs of these demolitions, Rudolf R. Schmidt also left a written testimony. Even then, he noticed that the Fortress was "collapsing more and more" in recent years, and he considered the construction of the mentioned road insufficiently justified, and it seemed to him that it was a better solution if the road went around the Fortress, ie through Tranžament. costs of demolition of certain parts of the Fortress. Schmidt also testified about countless minor damages on the walls "due to the arbitrary actions of individuals". In his opinion, the Petrovaradin Fortress, in addition to its historical and scientific significance, could be the most striking landmark of Novi Sad, which can bring it "a lot of tourist importance, and should be protected from any damage", and Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan could serve as an example of can do so by turning one former military facility into a model park. Among other things, Schmidt informs about the fate that could have befallen the Petrovaradin Fortress. Namely, according to him, the former fortifications of the Habsburg monarchy, which lost their military significance after the First World War, were destroyed (Osijek, Brod, Karlovac, Pancevo). Allegedly, thanks to "Colonel General Dragoš Đelošević", Petrovaradin escaped such a fate.

World War II and Petrovaradin Fortress
Before the Second World War, a belt of concrete bunkers was built at the Petrovaradin Fortress in Petrovaradin and its immediate surroundings to accommodate machine guns and the crew that serves it. With the collapse and division of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after the April War of 1941, Petrovaradin became part of the newly formed Independent State of Croatia. The Pilot School, the air defense and later the command of the SS troops were located on the fortress. A large number of unsuccessful operations were launched from the Petrovaradin Fortress in order to destroy the partisan forces on Fruška Gora. By September 1944, more than half of the Petrovaradin garrison had joined the People's Liberation Army. The Petrovaradin Fortress was liberated on October 23, 1944, one hour after midnight.

Petrovaradin Fortress after the Second World War
The first ideas about the conversion of the Petrovaradin Fortress were given by the architect Branko Maksimović in 1937. According to his Project for the conceptual regulation plan of the city of Novi Sad, the impossibility of building a representative center on the territory of the city was noticed. Maksimović placed this Representative Center in the area of ​​the "lower trenches" of the Petrovaradin Fortress, ie the Water City, where future monumental buildings would be built. According to Maksimović, the demolition of this part of the Petrovaradin Fortress would create conditions for the construction of an extremely interesting and harmonious urban ensemble in the immediate vicinity of the center of Novi Sad, which would be framed by "the old fortress, Danube and future park ..."


After the Second World War, in 1948, the Fortress was placed under state protection. On the Republic Day, November 29, 1951, the largest part of the Fortress, which was handed over to the administration of the People's Committee of the Municipality of Novi Sad, was opened for the first time to the public. The following year, 1952, the City Administration for the Petrovaradin Fortress was founded, and the architect Andrija Sečujski was appointed its head. After only one decade of work, this Administration was integrated into the Municipal Organization "Gradsko zelenilo" in 1962, which lasted until 1981, when the Petrovaradin Fortress was returned to the city's jurisdiction and thoroughly registered as the property of the Novi Sad City Assembly and a cultural asset. interest.

RO "Urbanism" made in 1988 a detailed urban plan of the Petrovaradin Fortress. Extensive documentation on the condition of the Petrovaradin Fortress has been prepared. The general conclusion of the situation in the Fortress was reduced to three words: "The situation is bad." The situation at that time, in which each user of the Fortress took care only of his own needs, and no one coordinated or cared for the entire complex, was considered disastrous for the Fortress. By the decision of the Municipal Assembly of Novi Sad, at the end of 1991, the Public Company "Petrovaradin Fortress" was established, to which the Fortress was entrusted for management and use. At the same time, the City Assembly adopts the Detailed Urban Plan of the Petrovaradin Fortress, which directed the activities of this company. The public company was abolished after a year and a half of existence.

By declaring it a cultural and historical monument, transferring the Fortress under civil administration and obtaining the status of a cultural and historical monument of great importance, it did not prevent the occurrence of constant physical devastation of its entire complex. With all administrations, committees and commissions of the National Board of the Municipality of Novi Sad, the Municipality of Petrovaradin, the Municipal Assembly and the Executive Board of the Assembly of the City of Novi Sad, with all urban and other documentation, all protection, utilities and public companies, for Slobodan Jovanovic millennium was still a decrepit patient of one hundred and one diseases in need of thorough rehabilitation, care and revitalization. He also noticed that there is no lack of plans and programs, ideas and visions, and that there was always a lack of practical exams - realization. Also, back in 1996, Jovanovic warned that the Petrovaradin Fortress especially needed programs of intensive and urgent rehabilitation, a program of conservation and restoration measures and a far-reaching and parallel program of research (not only archeological) and presentation of its history, reality and prospecting.