I visited two Serbian Orthodox churches in Pancevo, although I believe that there some other ones too. These two churches are in the centre of the city and they are easy to visit. However, the main reason why I decided to dedicate a post to these two churches is because, in addition to being precious religious temples, in my opinion they are also like museums. Namely, some of the most prominent Serbian 19th century painters worked on their decoration.
To be honest, I knew very little about Pancevo before I went there. I only read a bit about the National Museum. So, in addition to seeing a place that I’ve never seen before, one more reason why I went to Pancevo was to visit this museum. It houses an iconic painting by one of my most favourite Serbian painters – Paja Jovanović.
It was in the museum, while I was talking to the museum curator, that she told me more about these two churches. Thus, after she had told me about the painters that worked in these churches, my interest got ignited. So, immediately after the museum, I went to see them.
CHURCH OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD
To properly understand the location of the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God, let’s have a brief look at the history of Pancevo.
The same as Belgrade, the Ottomans conquered Pancevo in 1521, but in 1718 Pancevo came under the Austro-Hungarian rule, which lasted until the end of the First World War. That’s why Pancevo looks like other former Austro-Hungarian towns.
The concept of the city centre is the same as in other places in Vojvodina. There is a big main square with monumental buildings and the Catholic church is in or near the main square. The Serbian Orthodox church, although in the centre, is slightly away from there.
Catholicism was the official religion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Orthodox church certainly had a lower status. After all, Serbs were just one of many minority nations within the Empire, although they were the most numerous in Vojvodina.
The church was built in 1810, approximately 100 years after Pancevo became the Austro-Hungarian possession.
It’s not the oldest church in the city. The oldest one is the Roman Catholic Saint Charles Borromeo Church, built in 1757.
But I believe that the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God is the most important church in Pancevo now . After all, Serbs are the most numerous in the city today, thus the Orthodox religion is the leading ideology among different religions that exist in that part of Serbia.
Additionally, this church is one of two Serbian Orthodox churches with two bell towers, that I’ve seen. It’s a neo-Baroque structure, with classical elements. Unfortunately, photos don’t properly convey its magnificence and you really have to see it, to appreciate its architecture within the city context.
As you can see, the church is beautifully decorated. In fact, it’s as glamorous as other perhaps more important churches that I’ve seen, such as the St. Nicholas Cathedral Church in Sremski Karlovci.
That’s because one of the most prominent Serbian 19th century painters – Konstantin Danil – painted the ceiling and wall frescoes, as well as the icons of the iconostasis.
What’s special about this church is that Konstantin Danil painted everything. In other churches that I’ve seen, one artist would paint the icons and the other one frescoes.
You can see a lot of his paintings in museums in Belgrade and Novi Sad, but if you want to learn more about the life and work of this important Serbian painter, undoubtedly, this church is the best place where you can come.
I took photos of some of the icons within the iconostasis, otherwise it’s impossible and quite frankly unnecessary to take photos of all of them. The icons and the whole church are very beautiful.
CHURCH OF HOLY TRANSFIGURATION
As I’ve mentioned, I learnt about the Church of Holy Transfiguration totally by chance, from the curator in the National Museum. She told me not to miss it because it’s where I could see the work of two more prominent Serbian 19th century painters.
This church is in the same street like the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God, but it took me approximately 10min walk to get there. As Pancevo is a small place, this also means that this church is far from the city centre and unless you deliberately go there, it’s very easy to miss. I would’ve certainly missed it, had I not been told about it.
Two Serbian painters that worked in this church are Uroš Predić and Stevan Aleksić. You can also see a lot of their paintings in museums in Belgrade and Novi Sad. I’ve used one of Stevan Aleksić’s paintings as the main photo of my post “Serbian Painting in National Museum Zrenjanin”.
You will immediately notice that this church is different from other churches in Vojvodina, that I’ve written about. That’s because this church follows the neo-Byzantine architectural style.
Another peculiar thing about this church is that its bell tower is separate from the church. The only other church like this, that I’ve seen in Serbia, is the Church of Ascension in Belgrade.
They’ve restored the bell tower to its original look, I believe that they will do the same with the church. That’s why they look different at the moment.
Uroš Predić painted the icons of the iconostasis.
I took photos of some of the icons for this post, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s impossible to photograph absolutely everything. Also, you can only take good photos of images at the same level as you. You can’t take photos of paintings in the upper part of the iconostasis, as they normally come out distorted.
After all, it’s a church and not a museum and you should really go there to see Uroš Predić’s masterpiece in its entirety. It’s simply magnificent.
Stevan Aleksić painted the wall and ceiling frescoes, but unlike the scintillating iconostasis, the ceiling and the walls of the church are in a relatively bad state. I believe that, with time, the candle smoke tainted the images and it’s almost impossible to see anything properly.
I took a photo of the image below, above the main entrance of the church. It was really the only properly visible image, although you can notice the dark shade over what should be crystal clear colours.
I hope that they will soon restore this church and preserve Stevan Aleksić’s invaluable masterpieces. Perhaps, there is a plan for that, we will see. If and when I go back to Pancevo in the future, I may be pleasantly surprised.
I am sure that there are other Serbian Orthodox churches in Pancevo, but I visited just these two. If you think about it, for a city as small as Pancevo, that’s more than enough.
If you go to see these two churches, you will be able enjoy the works of art by some of the most prominent Serbian 19th century artists, in addition to visiting important religious temples.
This is especially valid for art students or simply for anyone interested in Serbian art and culture.