I went to Sremski Karlovci the other day… This town is very close to Novi Sad… It’s just a 6-mile ride … but when you use a wheelchair you need to plan for everything…
There was Beauty and tranquility all around me. This town has 12000 inhabitants, but where are they?
Probably having lunch: a scented yellow soup with rinflaish and red sauce.
Then fried meat and a salad.
And after that a bottle of white wine with kuglof and finally the inevitable bermet … but that’s another story.
In this Town every fountain, street and tree have their own story.
The legend says that Sremsk Karlovci originated as one of the many outposts of the Roman Empire on the northern border of Limes. Then the vineyards that adorn Karlovci and its surroundings were also created. Namely, at that time wine could only be made in the territory of Italy, but the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius decided to violate this law, so in the third century there were new vineyards here, and the wine became part of the everyday life of the inhabitants of this region.
Karlovci are mentioned again in 1308. as a fortress under the name of the Caro around which a settlement begins to emerge. There is an assumption that this name was derived from the name of the Serbian king Dragutin Nemanjić, who was married to the Hungarian princess Katalin, otherwise known as the granddaughter of King Bela IV and he got this area as a dowry. When King Dragutin broke his leg while hunting, he gave the throne to his younger brother Milutin and retreated to the property he had received in marriage: a lavish castle, that he also got as a dowry, where he made wine, went hunting and enjoyed a fantastic view. While the king rested, the soldiers guarded the top of the hill that had since become known as Stražilovo.
This idyll is interrupted by the Turks occupying Karlovci in 1521. They remained there until 1699 when the famous Karlovac Peace was signed, which was signed on one side by the Ottoman Empire and on the other by Austria, Poland and the Venetian Republic. Karlovci entered the world history and became part of the Habsburg Monarchy under the name of Vojna Krajna.
Then begins the most significant period for the development of Karlovac. The printing press opened, the first Serbian gymnasium was opened, the first theater performance was held, the Seminary was erected, which was the second oldest in the Orthodox world right after the Kiev Spiritual Academy, the Cathedral was erected.
The May Assembly was held in Karlovci when the Serbian Vojvodina was founded, thus achieving the centuries-old aspirations of the Serbian people for a special status within the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
For almost two centuries Karlovci where the center of the spiritual, political and cultural life of the Serbian people in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. Home of famous writers, painters and philosophers. By moving the patriarchate and other institutions to Belgrade, Karlovci have lost their significance so far, and today Karlovci have become a Baroque town and a unique living museum ..
When you walk in the main square, there are a number of important buildings to be visited, but when you go a little deeper, it gets harder because there are streets that were once called Hill, Mud, Donkey, Gold, Dirty, even soiled street.
Only here there is the one and only Pissing Hill or Three Hag Grommets Hill, the Donkey hill where in the Turkish time donkeys ate grass and so on. There are still delightful names such as the aptly named Wolfetown from which the locals in the 19 century went wolf hunting, then there is the Smelly Cemetery where they buried the people killed by the plague in the 18th century, or the Mammoth Hill so named because of the remains of the mammoths that were found there, Axe street where a guy killed a servant with, you guessed it, an axe etc.
Of course these places don’t look like this today, but they are still inconvenient for a wheelchair user. However, the center with its surroundings is a sufficient experience, it is well organized and I have been pleased to do the exercise.
Here are some of the most important buildings that are a must see in Karlovci.
The Patriarch Hall
One of the most monumental buildings in the late 19th century in Vojvodina, which today serves as the permanent residence of the bishop of Srem, but also as the summer residence of the Serbian patriarch. It also houses the Museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the so called ‘Treasure’. The Mony was not an issue, so inside you can see wallpapers of lamb skins that only two other courts in all of Europe have, and it took two years for the whole court to be painted. Here is also the oldest printed book of Serbia, The Belgrade’s Four Century Gospel which dates back to the middle of the sixteenth century.
Karlovci Theology Building
The first Serbian Orthodox Theology building was founded by Metropolitan Stefan Stratimirović in 1794. The building, in which the St. Arsenije Theology was placed, was erected by Patriarch George Branković for the needs of the Church’s National Funds in 1900. The same building houses the SANU Archive, a branch of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Built in 1903. at the initiative of Patriarch George Brankovic, as a boarding school for pupils of the Karlovci theology. After the Second World War, Stefaneum experienced a similar fate as the rest of the buildings, and today in the building is the Institute of the Serbian People, founded by the World Serbian Community.
The Orthodox Cathedral
The Orthodox Cathedral dedicated to St. Nicola was built in the year 1762. The locals also call it the Widows monastery because the widows of the famous Serbs from the 16th to the 18th century have spent their last days here. Today’s look was after the reconstruction of 1909-1910. and represents the masterpiece of the Serbian Baroque. The legend says that the painter Paja Jovanović once had a commission from King Peter the First Karađorđevićto paint nine big oil on canvas paintings for the church of St. George at Oplenac. But when he heard that the king did not like his paintings , Paja decided to donate them to Karlovci in protest.
The oldest Serbian gymnasium founded in 1791. Today’s appearance of the building, where the philological gymnasium is located, was 100 years after it was founded thanks to the money of the Andjelic brothers. Since 1907 girls could enter Karlovci Gymnasium but only those from Sremski Karlovci so that parents could keep an eye on them.
Karlovci gymnasium, in addition to bearing the title of the oldest in Serbia, preserves a great botanical treasure – Volnijev herbarijum, the oldest herbal collection in the Balkans, dating back to the 18th century and bearing the name of Andrija Volnija, a botanist from Slovakia, and the most popular professor and Director of the Karlovci Gymnasium in History.
The Four Lions Fountain
Even if you want to, you can’t miss the Four Lions Fountain that was built in 1799 in honor of the completion of the first Karlovci waterworks. The legend says that anyone who drinks water from this fountain will someday return to Sremski Karlovci. And no one will stop you from trowing a coin and making a wish. Even though, once upon a time, every Karlovci-like house had its own well, all the meetings were and are still always scheduled at the fountain.
Of course, besides the fountain, there is also a famous restaurant with the same name.
It is not known who first got the name: the fountain or the restaurant but what is reliably known is that at least every third visitor has the surname Jovanovic because it is the most common surname in the city. But to distinguish who they are, they are called by the names of Mustache, General, Greek, Zanfirovi, Joldini, Lapčanovi, Pecula and Rajkini. Many also respond to: Rabbet, Coward, Kurjak, Rat, Puculjkov, Rooster, Risovi … imagine that a Rabbet is in a cafe with a Kurjak…. In Karlovci everything is possible.
The house of Branko Radičević
Branko Radicevic lived in Karlovci for 6 years. Sremski Karlovci and Stražilovo had a great influence on some of Branko’s later works, eg. “Đjački Rastanak” in which Branko expresses the desire to be buried in Karlovci.
Roman Catholic Church
The Orthodox and Catholic churches are next to each other. They say that Orthodox church is one of the most beautiful examples of architecture from this period, while the cathedral is special in because of its Baroque portal. It was built at the place where the Benedictine basilica was once situated.
The Town Church
The church is dedicated to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. It is first mentioned in a record in 1599, and on the old foundations of the temple was restored in 1719. At the port of the church there is a plateau which is today under the protection of the state and represents the highland natural monument of Sremska Karlovci.
The building was built between 1808 and 1811 in neoclassical style. The most significant event related to this institution is the proclamation of the Serbian Vojvodina from the balcony of this building in May 1848. Today the headquarters of the Municipality of Sremski Karlovci is in the building of the Magistrata.
The Vrangel Monument
The first monument to Russian emigration in the world that was erected in 2007, and dedicated to the General of the Russian Army, Peter Nikolaevich Vrangel, who lived in Karlovci for several years. He, unlike most of the refugee Russians who considered Karlovci only as a rest stop, sincerely loved Serbia and asked to be buried in a “brotherly Slavic Orthodox country on a piece of Russian soil.” He was buried in a Russian cemetery in Belgrade. Several families of descendants of Russians from these difficult times live in Sremski Karlovci today.
The Karlovci Pharmacy
One of the oldest pharmacies in Vojvodina, built in 1890 and still working. Ludwig Strasser is its founder, and it is characterized by its interior that was made in Venice that shows the ambience of the second half of the 19th century, the wooden drawers are still inscribed with Latin inscriptions, as well as the impeccably painted ceiling.
The House of Angelina Dejanovič
The Wines of Karlovci
Here, wine is produced from the time of the Roman Emperor Marc Aurelius Probus, who planted the first vineyards here. The locals have always been excellent wine growers. They run their own vineyards, which at that time was not customary even in the most famous wine growing areas. They did not allow the grapes to be too large, and as cutters they were real masters. It was a rule that three or at most four grapes should be left on one cluster. The vineyard was carefully grown so that it doesn’t have a surplus, and therefore there were many clusters of the ages fifty and a hundred years old, which still make some excellent grapes….
Almost all the grapes were black, because it was more resistant than white. There was very little white grapes and white wine. only a fifth of all quantities…
Today, however, thanks to the many years of efforts of scientist Sime Lazic, who has worked for years on the breeding of varieties, one of the most famous white Karlovci wines got the name force. However, the most famous Karlovci wine is Bermet, a dry desert flavored wine, that was made from over thirty plants, served at room temperature. About three hundred years ago, the recipe for bermet was a strictly guarded wine-growing secret, that sommeliers from Italy, Germany and France tried to solve. However, in war and love, all means are allowed, so bermet is still said to be the best drink for a man when a woman drinks it…
Now where there is bermet there is also kuglof.
Karlovci do not go without it. You can describe a kuglof in a variety of ways, but you can not say that it is a light cake. How could it be when instead of milk goes bermet which follows cinnamon, walnut, candied fruit, chocolate. Many love kuglof especially the Germans and the French. The legend says that the unfortunate queen Mary Antoanette when she married the king of France brought kuglof models with her. According to some rules of the Vienna School, kuglof can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner with milk, coffee tea, wine or bermet. The unconventional rule is that the chocolate kuglof goes along with red wine or coffee and the yellow one with white wine or tea. It can be as big as a loaf of bred or hand size depending on the housewife’s inspiration and the size of the model. Otherwise, kuglof can last up to 15 days though such a case is not recorded because it usually disappears in one moment. Over 400 recipes are known today.
Written and enjoyed,