After Zrenjanin, I decided to go to Pancevo. In reality, it’s really Pančevo, but there is no a letter č in English alphabet, so all English language websites refer to it as Pancevo. I’ll do the same. In Serbian, the letter č is for the sound ch in English, as in chair. Every Serb will look at Pancevo and will read it correctly. So, this short explanation is for foreign readers, to know how to correctly pronounce the name of this city.
First of all, let me say that I’ve never been to Pancevo. In fact, despite the fact that it’s so close to Belgrade, almost no one that I know has been there. It’s a pity, because Pancevo is a perfect day trip from Belgrade.
At the same time, it’s very easy to go there, it’s pretty and there are some significant historic sites that you can visit. Additionally, the art lovers can see the works of some of Serbian most celebrated 19th century painters, which is really amazing.
There is a frequent bus service between Belgrade and Pancevo. You can catch a bus in front of the Danube Railway Station, the service runs every 15 minutes. From there, the journey takes approximately 20 minutes. You will arrive at the Pancevo bus station, which is right in the city centre. Really, it can’t be easier and more efficient.
On my way there the bus was half full but on the way back in the evening, there were more people travelling. I suppose, if when you arrive and the bus is full, you will just have to wait for another one unless they let people stand, which I don’t know if they do.
From the bus station, I started my tour of Pancevo in Vojvode Radomira Putnika street. Basically, this street takes you to the city centre. As you can see, there are some beautifully restored buildings and also various shops, coffee shops, bakeries and other amenities.
The most central part of the city is behind these buildings.
MAIN PEDESTRIAN STREET
However, in line with my usual bad luck, the main pedestrian Njegoševa street and also one part of the main square were under restoration. You can see the extent of the works in the photo below. Although some people used this street to go about their daily business, it was very noisy and dusty, so I didn’t go there.
It’s a long street, I assume with nice buildings and a lot of shops and coffee shops. But to see it, I’ll have to go back to Pancevo some other time.
I’ve said many times before, I’m very happy to see when they do the restoration works. But at the same time, I’m unhappy because I can’t see those particular sites in their full glory and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back there again.
In case of Pancevo, it’s very close to Belgrade and going back will be easy. It’s really a problem when I’m in a far away place and going back there is a bit more tricky.
KING PETER I SQUARE
The same as Belgrade, the Ottomans conquered Pancevo in 1521. But, in 1718 Pancevo went back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the same as the rest of Vojvodina.
Thus, the city centre concept in Pancevo is the same as in Novi Sad, Sremski Karlovci and Zrenjanin that I’ve already written about. There is a big main square, with monumental buildings and with a Catholic church although in Pancevo, the church is slightly detached from the square.
Additionally, the inevitable Serbian Orthodox church is also in the centre, but slightly away from the main square, exactly the same as in other cities and towns in Vojvodina.
But, this square is a park. It means that when you stand in the centre of the square, you can’t see almost anything because of the trees. It’s only when you approach the buildings surrounding the square that you can see them properly.
Whether the main square in the city is a park or totally empty, it’s a choice that the city makes. I’ve seen a lot of main squares turned into parks, in Qiuto and La Paz for example. But, I’ve also seen a lot of main squares with no trees, such as in Madrid, Lisbon and Istanbul.
Personally, I think that it’s better if people can properly see beautiful buildings that form the square, but that’s my opinion.
One of the most monumental buildings in the square is the former military building, built around 1830. It’s a commercial building today, with offices and shops.
Perhaps, the most important building in the square is the former Magistrate or City Hall building, built in 1838, which houses the National Museum today.
The other side of the square was under restoration and closed to the public, so I couldn’t properly see anything there. That also included the pedestrian Vojvode Živojina Mišića street. Although there were no works in this street, because of its proximity to the works, it was noisy and very dusty.
SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN PANCEVO
From the main square, I went to see two magnificent Serbian Orthodox churches. They are both in Dimitrija Tucovića street.
Perhaps, the most important one is the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God. Built in 1810, it’s one of few Serbian orthodox churches with two bell towers. The great Serbian 19th century painter – Konstantin Danil – painted the icons of the iconostasis in this church.
The Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God is very close to the main square.
But the Church of Holy Transfiguration, although in the same street, is approximately 10 minutes walk away.
Built in 1878 in the Neo-Byzantine style, it’s dramatically different from other Serbian Orthodox churches in Vojvodina.
What’s also very special about this particular church is that two most prominent 19th century Serbian painters worked on its decoration. Uroš Predić painted the icons of the iconostasis and Stevan Aleksić painted the wall frescoes.
After visiting these two Serbian Orthodox churches, I went back to the city centre, more precisely to the Gymnasium Square. This small square is almost an addition to the main King Peter I Square. That’s where the Roman Catholic Saint Charles Borromeo Church is.
I mentioned that the Catholic church in Pancevo was not in the main square. But, you can see it from the square because that’s how people that designed that whole area wanted it to be.
Built in 1757, not long after the city changed hands from the Ottomans to the Austro-Hungarians, it’s the oldest church in Pancevo. Unfortunately, it was closed and I couldn’t see it inside.
Immediately next to the Catholic church, you will see the “Uroš Predić” gymnasium. It’s in a building that you can see in the photo below, constructed in 1888. The school was established in 1863.
There were some other old buildings in the square, but also some ugly new constructions. It’s a small square and it was almost impossible for me to find a spot from where I could take a decent photo of all buildings in the square.
A building in the photo above is opposite the Catholic church and a building below is next to the church. It’s some sort of a hospital.
From there, I decided to go to see what’s potentially one of the most important historic sites in Pancevo. In the next two photos, you can see the Catholic church, although it’s not a completely clear view.
I don’t know what the building below is, but it looked nice and I took a photo. It’s probably just some shops and offices.
GEORG WEIFERT SQUARE AND BREWERY
Coming to see the Weifert Brewery was the biggest disappointment and soon you will see why. But first, let me say that I didn’t know anything about this person.
Georg Weifert, or Đorđe Vajfert in Serbian, was an industrialist and founder of modern Serbian mining, also the Governor of the National Bank of Serbia and Yugoslavia. He also had a brewery in Pancevo.
Although the first brewery in Pancevo started producing beer in 1722, this current building is from the 19th century. For most of its existence, it belonged to the Weifert family. The communist government nationalised in 1946, after the Second World War.
The Weifert brewery produced beer until 1977, when the production moved to another site. Then, it become a warehouse and its machinery was dismantled and sold as scrap metal. Finally, in 2005 the biggest and the oldest part of the brewery burnt down in a fire.
In the photo below, you can see one small restored part of the former brewery. It houses the small Beer Museum and the Beer Hall. Unfortunately, it was closed and I couldn’t visit the museum.
The rest of the building is in a desperate state.
It was only when I went behind the building that I saw the extent of destruction. It’s a pity. Can you imagine this structure fully restored, with its old machinery inside? It would’ve been a spectacular site, the prime tourist attraction. Or, it could’ve been redesigned as a hotel like they’ve done in Belgrade with an old brewery in Skadarlija.
Like this, there is really nothing to see, it’s just a shell of the former celebrated industrial complex. In fact, it’s sad to see this structure in this state. If it’s left like this for longer, in the end they will have to pull it down completely. That would be a tragedy.
I suppose that there is no money for restoration or perhaps there is no political will. For a small city like Pancevo, a site like this one would be of immense importance because I assume they would want to encourage tourism.
Anyway, I hope that the reason will prevail and that they will do something very soon.
NIKOLE ĐURKOVIĆA STREET
I have to mention this street. It runs between Weifert Square and Đure Jakšića street. I don’t know what’s going on, but right in the middle of the historic area, there is this street in a catastrophic condition.
These are not abandoned houses. There are people living in them. The street looks so bad that it’s an outright attraction just like that.
I assume that, because these are private houses, the city doesn’t want to pay for their restoration. At the same time, I also assume that residents can’t afford to have them restored.
Nevertheless, potentially they are beautiful and the city should do something. Like this, it’s a very ugly image in the middle of what’s otherwise a rather nice historic area.
BY THE TAMIŠ RIVER
Next, I went for a walk by the Tamiš river. Danube is also nearby, but the city is detached from it. It’s really Tamiš that runs through Pancevo.
I first came across an old train. There are some restaurants there.
In the photo below, you can see a bridge over the river which you cross when you arrive from Belgrade to Pancevo.
Otherwise, the river bank is nice although in need of some regular maintenance. Also, the same as in Belgrade, you will find a lot of floating bars and restaurants there.
I walked all the way to the Red Warehouse. Built by the military in 1787, it served as a warehouse from its construction to the present day. It’s also one of the oldest constructions in the city.
THE REST OF PANCEVO
Before going to see historic sites slightly detached from the central area, I went for a coffee and something to eat in one of numerous coffee shops that you can find in the city centre.
The Evangelical Church, in the photo below, was built in 1906. It primarily served the German evangelical community that lived in the city at that time.
However, as there are almost no Evangelist left in the area, the church is closed and it no longer has it religious function. I’ve read that they occasionally organise classical music concerts there.
Directly opposite the Evangelical Church, there is the 1905 building of the “Nikola Tesla” electrical engineering high school.
Finally, at the end of my visit, I went to see the Roman Catholic St. Anne Church. This church is far from the city centre, it took approximately 20 minute walk for me to get there.
Georg Weifert built this church in 1923, as a family chapel. I don’t think that this is a functioning temple now. It looked abandoned and a bit dilapidated. I hope that they won’t let it decay further, as otherwise it’s a very beautiful construction.
From there, I came back to the bus station and took a bus back to Belgrade. I didn’t go to see some other important historic sites far from the city centre. But, that’s not really a big problem.
I want to go back to Pancevo in the future. I want to see the historic centre again, after all restoration works have been completed.
Going to Pancevo is very easy and fast and it’s such a nice way to spend a day away from Belgrade. I would also urge everyone in Belgrade to follow in my steps. If you live in Belgrade and you’ve never been to Pancevo, go!
You will enjoy your visit much more than you could imagine.