Travelling in Serbia is cheap. There are regular intercity bus links, although perhaps not as frequent as they were in Turkey last year where I also used buses to travel across the country. But, Turkey is much bigger, with a much bigger population. Normally, such services match the needs and requirements of the local population.
MY HOTEL IN ZRENJANIN
I went to Zrenjanin at the beginning of October. At that time, the weather was perfect, with day time temperatures around 25 degrees C and a bit cooler in the evening. It’s the weather that allows you to stay outside all day long, without feeling hot. In fact, I had to wait for a bit cooler weather to do my travelling in Serbia. September was prohibitively hot. You can’t really do much when it’s 30 degrees C outside, unless you are on the beach.
That’s why I decided to stay a night there. Zrenjanin is a small place, much smaller than Novi Sad. You can easily see everything in one day. I could’ve done a day trip from Belgrade. But, apart from visiting touristic sites in a new place, I also like to take some time to absorb new impressions, the place and its people.
I stayed in a very nice Centar Lux 2 hostel. Frankly speaking, I am not sure why this particular establishment is a hostel and not a hotel. It was certainly much better than many Paris or Madrid hotels where I stayed in the past.
Most importantly, this establishment is centrally located, in the main pedestrian King Aleksandar I Karađorđević street. It’s in the Scheherazade building built in 1900, in the photo below, that belonged to Teodosije Turner.
CHURCH OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD
I started my tour of Zrenjanin at the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God. This 1746 construction is the oldest church in the city.
MAIN PEDESTRIAN STREET
The main pedestrian King Aleksandar I Karađorđević street starts with some beautiful buildings. In fact, the whole historic area of Zrenjanin is as beautiful as in Novi Sad, but smaller. It’s one more place in Serbia that has a rich Austro-Hungarian architectural legacy.
You can see a former building of the Serbian Savings Bank below, built in 1899. It houses the city pharmacy today.
Immediately opposite there is the House of the Family Kovač, built at the beginning of the 20th century.
The main pedestrian street contains a lot of impressive buildings, plus they’ve beautifully restored almost all of them.
I know that each building has its own interesting history. People in the past carefully constructed them, so that their richly decorated facades embellish the street.
In the photo below, you can see the end of this street and the city’s main Liberty Square.
One more impressive structure in this street is the 1909 building of the former Bece & Son department store, modelled on the Wertheim Kaufhaus department store in Berlin. It was the first purpose built contemporary department store in Zrenjanin.
Immediately next to it is the former house of the powerful merchant family Štagelšmit, built in the second half of the 19th century.
The street ends with the magnificent Bukovac Palace, built in 1895.
The same as in Novi Sad, the main square in Zrenjanin is also Liberty Square. It’s a very beautiful and big square where the Austro-Hungarian architectural legacy reaches its peak. Apart from one building that I will mention a bit later, all other buildings in the square create a uniquely magical atmosphere.
Without any doubt, the most prominent structure that dominates the square is the Roman Catholic St. Ivan Nepomuk Cathedral, built in 1868.
Unfortunately, the Cathedral was closed and I didn’t visit it. I went back several times during my stay in Zrenjanin, but I wasn’t lucky. It’s a pity, although I’ve noticed the same pattern with almost all Catholic churches that I’ve seen. The only one that I could visit was the Cathedral in Novi Sad.
It’s in stark contrast to the Serbian Orthodox churches which are normally always open.
A monument to King Peter I Karađorđević the Liberator occupies the central part of the square. In 1941, the fascists destroyed the original monument, erected in 1926.
So, the monument that we see today is a replica made in 2005.
The inevitable Neo-Baroque City Hall is also in the square, immediately next to the Catholic Cathedral. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
Built in 1820 and reconstructed in 1887, it originally served as the County Palace.
Some other monumental buildings in the square are the National Theatre and the National Museum, next to each other.
On the other side of the National Theatre, you will see the former Grand Hotel Vojvodina, built in 1886. But, it’s no longer a hotel, there is a bank there now.
You can also see one small part of the modern Hotel Vojvodina building, in the photo below.
However, after all these beautiful structures, the presentation of the Liberty Square wouldn’t be complete without a photo of the 1963 building that you can see below.
It’s fascinating how people in the past paid attention to what kind of buildings they were constructing in order to create a beautiful city. Then later some other people arrive and construct monstrosities.
Certainly, this building doesn’t belong to this square. Apart from being ugly, it’s also too tall. It ruins the harmony of the square and it doesn’t have any architectural value.
In my opinion, the best would be to pull it down and construct something that would add to the beauty of this glamorous area of the city. But, that’s not going to happen, at least not for the foreseeable future.
Finally, there is also a building of the City Library, that further adds to the charm of this square.
From Liberty Square, I went to Gimnazijska street to see the Catholic Piarist Church, built in 1846, immediately next to the Zrenjanin Gymnazium. Unfortunately, it was closed and I couldn’t visit it inside.
Piarists, a religious order dedicated to education, provided free education to poor children.
That’s why the building of the Zrenjanin Gymnasium is next to the Piarist church, constructed at the same time in 1846.
Dr. SLAVKO ŽUPANSKI STREET
After everything that I’ve already described in this post, perhaps you would think that there is nothing else left to see in Zrenjanin. But, the best, the most impressive part of the city is still to come.
From Liberty Square, I continued my tour of the city in Dr. Slavko Županski street. On my left hand-side there was the 1882 building of the former Third Gymnasium.
But, it’s an electrical engineering “Nikola Tesla” school today.
You may think that there are two different buildings in the photo below. In fact, it’s one building with one part of its facade painted in yellow and the rest in light green.
When the Catholic Church established the religious institute of School Sisters of Notre Dame in Zrenjanin in 1880, they initiated construction of this building. They completed it in 1909.
The yellow part of the building is a primary school “Vuk Karadžić”. There is a chapel incorporated into the building, dedicated to Charles Borromeo.
Interestingly, between 1944 and 1960, the green part of the building housed the orphans from all parts of Yugoslavia, children of people that died during the Second World War.
The other side of the street starts with the City Hall building. You can clearly see how big that building is. In the earlier photo, you could only see one part of its main facade.
The City Park, created in 1890 as part of the then County Palace, is next to the City Hall. Unfortunately, it was closed and I couldn’t visit it.
You may have noticed an ornament at the corner of the City Hall building in the photo above. I couldn’t find any information about it, although it’s a beautiful feature which you can’t miss when you pass by.
One more impressive building in this street is the former National Health House. Originally built at the beginning of the 19th century and later reconstructed, it served as a hospital for the poor.
There are various state institutions in the building today. Unfortunately, it’s the only building in the street that they haven’t restored, you can clearly see its crumbling facade. But, I hope that they’ll restore it soon, so that this street shines in its full glory.
Around the corner from the former National Health House, I went to see the Russian Church.
AROUND THE LAKE
Next, I went to see the most beautiful part of Zrenjanin, around the small Lake III. In the past, the lake was part of the Bega river which runs through the city. But, they turned this small section of the river into a lake in 1985.
You can see three historic structures in the photo below that together form a very magical image. The green Small Bridge over the lake was constructed in 1904.
The Reformed Church, built in 1891, served a community that separated from the Evangelical Church in 1866. However, I’m not sure if this church still serves the same purpose. It was closed and it also looked completely abandoned.
They nicely painted the front facade of the church, but the back part of the church is crumbling. I don’t think that they would allow a functioning temple to come into such a bad state.
Without any doubt, the Neo-Romantic building of the Zrenjanin Court House is the most monumental structure in the city. Built in 1908, it strategically occupies what really is the best possible position in the city.
The Trade Academy, built in 1892, is directly opposite the Court House. Interestingly, it’s the only unrestored building that slightly spoils what’s otherwise an absolutely magical area.
I’ve read that they did some restoration in 1982, but only on one small part of the building. I hope that they’ll do something in the near future. It houses the electrical engineering school today.
Two images that follow are of the former School Sisters of Notre Dame Religious Institute, but this time seen from behind.
As I’ve already mentioned, you may think that these are two different buildings, while it’s one building painted in two different colours, depending on their current function.
Then, there were some idyllic images of Vojvodina style houses across the lake, with their reflection in the water.
At the end of the lake, before I turned back, I came across an old, abandoned factory that you can see below. I don’t know what they are planning to do with it, but no matter what, I think that they should restore it.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information about this splendid structure. I sincerely hope that they won’t demolish it.
THE REST OF ZRENJANIN
You will also find some interesting historic buildings in King Peter I street. One of them is a building of the former Austro-Hungarian bank. Built around 1900, it was the first purpose built bank in Zrenjanin.
From there, I went to see the Slovak Evangelical Church, built in 1837. Unfortunately, it was closed and you can also see that it’s not in the best state. Perhaps, it’s one more abandoned church in the city.
From the church, I went to see the Pin’s Villa. This beautiful dilapidated structure, built in 1894, is the so-called “Museum of Destruction” now.
I don’t really know what’s going on here and why they allowed for this magnificent building to come into such a desperate state. I’ve read that there are plans for its restoration, but whether that’ll happen, we’ll see in the future.
BY THE BEGA RIVER
I finished my tour of Zrenjanin by going back to the Bega river. There are some beautiful buildings along the river. I took the photos below from a bridge over the river.
I’ve read that there used to exist the magnificent steel Eiffel Bridge, which the communist authorities removed in 1969. Then, they built a totally non-descript and ugly concrete bridge in its place.
Certainly, it’s sad to see how newer generations of people ruin what older generations made before them. You really have to be utterly stupid to remove a major historic landmark and replace it with something without any architectural and artistic value. But, there are many examples of such catastrophic decisions in Belgrade too.
In these photos, you can see the Lazar Dunđerski Palace and Brewery, built in 1911, on the left bank of the Bega river.
There were some initiatives to reconstruct the old Eiffel Bridge and I hope that they’ll do it some day, for the sake of people that live in that city. After all, we all want live in a nice, clean and aesthetically pleasing environment. But, I don’t think that they’ll ever do it.
So, I spent one night in Zrenjanin and I would encourage you to do the same. In reality, you can see all this in one day. But, if you want to visit the spectacular National Museum and also sit down in one of numerous coffee shops along the main pedestrian street, you would need more time.
In my opinion, there is nothing better than when you leisurely enjoy in everything that surrounds you and you slowly absorb the place, its people and energy.
In that respect, Zrenjanin is absolutely magical.