Even before I start writing this post about historic churches in Novi Sad, I feel that it will be incomplete. When we travel, it often happens that historical sites that we want to see are either under restoration or they are simply closed. We stay in a certain place for a limited period of time and it’s precisely then when we can do the sightseeing. When we leave, we don’t know if we’ll go back to that same place ever again.
That’s why I think it’s so important to see as much as possible, although that doesn’t only depend on us. I’ve had such experiences before, I missed a lot of historical sites in Turkey last year.
Most recently, the same happened to me in Novi Sad. Although its historical centre is relatively small, it’s full of churches. Almost wherever you are, you can see a bell tower of one church or the other. I managed to see all of them on the outside, but I ended up visiting only three of them.
To one church I went back twice, but both times there was a function inside and it wasn’t really appropriate to enter as a tourist. The other churches were all closed. Additionally, there wasn’t anyone around whom I could’ve asked to open the church for me, like I did at several mosques in Turkey last year.
SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ST. GEORGE THE MARTYR
The Church of Saint George the Martyr is the most important Serbian Orthodox church in Novi Sad, because it’s a cathedral church. It’s immediately next to the Bishop’s Palace, in the centre of the historic area of Novi Sad.
The original early 18th century church was destroyed in 1849, during the revolution within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thus, the church that we see today is actually the 19th century construction, built between 1860 and 1880. They finally completed it in 1905.
I didn’t know anything about this church before going to Novi Sad. Perhaps, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that Paja Jovanović, one of the greatest Serbian painters and my favourite, had painted the 33 icons of the magnificent iconostasis in this church.
But, it’s a church, not a museum, so it’s not really possible to see each and every icon in detail. Rather, the iconostasis is intended to impress in its entirety, as a crucial ornament within the Serbian Orthodox temple.
When I go back to Novi Sad, I will make sure to visit this church again. The iconostasis is Paja Jovanović’s masterpiece and I would certainly like to see it again. In the photo below, you can see it a bit better, although the lighting in the church is not really made for taking great photos. But, I’m sure that you can get a good idea of how it is.
Another great Serbian painter, Stevan Aleksić, painted the wall and ceiling frescoes in the church.
SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE HOLY MOTHER’S ASCENSION
Perhaps, the church of the Holy Mother’s Ascension is the second most important Serbian Orthodox church in Novi Sad. It’s centrally located, immediately next to the Serbian National Theatre.
But, importance is a relative thing. It’s a very precious church, both as a religious temple and also historically, architecturally and artistically. This 18th century Baroque church was built in 1774.
It’s approximately 100 years older than the Cathedral church of Saint George the Martyr and that’s something that you immediately realise when you enter this church. You immediately see that it’s much older.
Master woodcarvers Marko Gavrilović and brothers Arsenije and Aksentije Marković made the magnificent iconostasis in this church.
Janko Holkozović and the Serbian Baroque painter of icons and frescoes Vasa Ostojić painted the icons of the iconostasis.
Certainly, photos can’t convey the full beauty of the artwork in this church. The subdued lighting creates a perfect religious ambience, but it doesn’t allow you to see the beautiful paintings and frescoes clearly.
However, the important thing is that you can see the church in its entirety, as it’s really intended, because it’s a temple of worship. In the photo below, you can see the rear part of the church and the main entrance.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE NAME OF MARY
Somewhat ironically, the Roman Catholic church of the Name of Mary occupies the most central position in the most central square of Novi Sad.
This Neo-Gothic church is the biggest and, in my opinion, it’s the most beautiful in Novi Sad. It dominates the city centre and when you go to Novi Sad, you can’t miss it. It’s in the middle of everything that you would want to see while visiting this city.
It’s a Roman Catholic church in a Serbian Orthodox city. But, it hasn’t always been like that. While it’s true that the Orthodox Serbs have always been the most numerous people in Novi Sad, at the time of construction of this church the city was ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Vojvodina and Novi Sad became part of Serbia after the First World War.
Thus, it’s not surprising that the Austro-Hungarian rulers chose the best place in the city for this church. The Roman Catholic religion is predominant both in Austria and Hungary.
The church that we see today was constructed in 1893. There used to exist two churches before this one, but they were both destroyed.
This church has four altars, although you can see three of them in this post. The main alter is the biggest one.
In the photo below, you can see the mechanical pipe organ, above the main entrance. That’s also one of the main differences between Catholic and Orthodox churches – they play music in Catholic churches, while there is no music in the Orthodox ones, just the singing.
Finally, a photo of a beautiful iron gate at the entrance to this church. Undoubtedly, it’s a magnificent temple that beautifully embellishes the city.
SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE THREE HOLY HIERARCHS (ALMAŠKA CHURCH)
I went twice to see this 18th century church, built in 1797. The first time there was a mass and baptism the second time. I could’ve stayed and waited for both functions to finish, but I didn’t know how long it would take, so I left.
I’ve seen the inside of the church from the entrance, but not properly and I couldn’t take any photos.
When I go back to Novi Sad, I’ll make sure to go back to this church. Apart from being the biggest Serbian Orthodox church in the city, it also contains works of art by some of the most prominent Serbian Baroque artists.
There is also an icon “The Mother of God on the Throne”, by great Uroš Predić.
SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE TRANSFER OF ST. NICHOLAS RELICS (NIKOLAJEVSKA CHURCH)
This and all other churches that I’ll mention in this post were closed when I went to see them, so I saw them only on the outside. It’s a pity, but that’s how it is. Perhaps, when I go to Novi Sad next time, I will be luckier.
They are all significant religious temples, in addition to their architectural and artistic value.
The same as many other structures in Novi Sad, the original Church of the Transfer of St. Nicholas Relics was destroyed in 1849. The church that we see today was rebuilt after that.
GREEK CATHOLIC CHURCH OF ST. APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL
This is a very strange church and I’d love to have seen it. They also call it the United Church, because it combines certain aspects of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
It’s also strange because the predominant religion in Greece is the Orthodox religion.
Built in either 1834 or 1837, it has its original appearance as it was not damaged in the bombing of Novi Sad during the 1849 uprising.
SLOVAK EVANGELICAL CHURCH
The Slovak Evangelical Church in Novi Sad, built in 1886, is a Protestant church. It’s an interesting fact because Catholic religion is the most predominant in Slovakia.
The history of Protestantism in Vojvodina and Novi Sad is also very interesting, but I’ll leave that for another time.
I’ve never been inside of a Slovak Protestant church before, so I hope that I’ll manage to see this church next time.
REFORMED CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The original Reformed Christian or Reformist-Calvinist Church was also destroyed in the uprising of 1849. The Neo-Gothic building that we see today was built in 1865.
The reforming Calvinist religion families settled in Novi Sad in the late 18th and early 19th century. I don’t know anything about this religion, so I’ll leave it for the time being, especially because I haven’t managed to visit this church either.
It would be easier for me to learn about the Calvinist religion if I could visualise the temple with the related information.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF ST. GEORGE
I’ve mentioned this church in my previous post, it’s in Petrovaradin. So, you will see this church if you visit the Petrovaradin Fortress. The way to the fortress passes by this church.
Built as a Jesuit monastery in 1714, it’s one of the oldest churches in the city.
HISTORIC CHURCHES IN NOVI SAD
There are nine historic churches in the centre of Novi Sad, but I managed to visit just the three of them. It was a bit of a bad luck.
But, I am glad that I’ve seen them all, although six of them I’ve seen just on the outside. By writing this post, I’ve learnt a bit of history about each of them and that’s precisely why I enjoy writing these posts. I learn about places and historical sites that I knew nothing about previously.
Also, I have a very good reason to go back to Novi Sad and I hope it’ll be very soon!