Located in the Northern half of Serbia and on the banks of the Danube river, Novi Sad is the country’s second-largest city after Belgrade, having a population of roughly 250,000. It is marked by the river, by the extensive Petrovaradin fortress above town and by a series of historic buildings in the city center. Novi Sad serves as the capital of the Vojvodina province. Translated from the Serbian language, the city’s name means “new plantation”.
Like many places in this part of Europe, Novi Sad has a storied past with affiliations to many different states and empires. From the Middle Ages on, there were a number of villages in that area that were inhabited by a mixed Hungarian and Slavic population. In 1526, the Ottoman Empire conquered the area, driving the Hungarians out and establishing a rule over the region that lasted until 1694, when the Habsburg Empire took over. The actual foundation of the city of Novi Sad came in 1748. After more than two centuries under Austrian rule, the Vojvodina came to the Kingdom of Serbia in 1918. After belonging to Yugoslavia until the country’s dissolution in 1992, Novi Sad and the entire agglomeration became again a part of Serbia again. During the Kosovo War, NATO air raids targeted the city, causing significant damage.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Novi Sad and the surrounding areas have experienced a boost with significant population growth and economic development. Vojvodina has for a long time been the most productive agricultural region of Serbia and Novi Sad has also added many jobs in manufacturing and in the tertiary sector. Visitors today enjoy a generally open atmosphere and an emphasis on culture and the arts. Having been elected the European Capital of Culture in 2021, the city hosts several large festivals every year, including the well-known music festival Exit. .
Novi Sad’s main attraction is the Petrovaradin Fortress, once Europe’s largest fortress that has today been turned into a city district. Built on grounds where a prehistoric settlement already existed thousands of years ago, construction of the fortress started in 1692 but wasn’t finished until almost one hundred years later. Petrovaradin is Novi Sad’s cultural center, hosting the Exit festival and being home to numerous galleries and artist workshops.
Other main sights in town include the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Serbian National Theatre, the art collection of the Gallery of Matica Srpska and the Name of Mary Church, a three-nave building with neo-gothic architecture, colorful roof tiles and pretty stained glass windows. It can be found at Liberty Square (Trg Slobode) in the center of town. Not far away from here, Dunavska is Novi Sad’s main shopping avenue with plenty of unique stores and cafés. When walking through the easily navigable town, visitors should pay attention to the murals and other works of art that have been placed on many facades.
However, art is not the ony attraction the city has to offer. Not far from town, the Fruska Gora National Park offers plenty of outdoor opportunities as well as important habitats for many species. And for those looking for a day at the beach, the Strand is a popular sand beach at the bank of the Danube river and a favorite spot for locals on hot summer days.