A quiet urban oasis tucked between the Danube River and the Fruška Gora Mountain, Sremska Kamenica is one of the favourite destinations of the people of Novi Sad because of its beauty, quiet streets, Srem wine, but also the spacious Kamenica Park, ideal for an outing in nature. Through the historical tale of the place where the famous children’s poet and doctor, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, spent his last years, we introduce you to the suburban settlement of Sremska Kamenica and its most interesting sights.
Sremska Kamenica is a town, which, due to its favourable location between the right bank of the Danube and the northern slopes of Fruška Gora, creates a special microclimate, pleasant for people. It has more than 12 thousand inhabitants, and the most important parts of Sremska Kamenica are Gornja and Donja Kamenica, Čardak, Staroiriški put, Bocke, Tatarsko brdo, and weekend settlements Popovica, Paragovo, Glavica, Grigovac and Artiljevo. Sremska Kamenica is also significant for its institutes for cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases as well as for oncology, which are unique hospitals in our country.
The house where the famous ‘uncle’ Jova Zmaj lived, was later turned into a museum, which contributed to the popularisation of this place. Further, the fact that he was a great poet whose poems children adore to this day, is evidenced by the popular monuments in his honour in the centre of Kamenica, but also in the centre of Novi Sad.
Sremska Kamenica Has a Rich Past
About 2,300 years ago, this territory was ruled by the warlike Illyrian tribe Triballi, who were later defeated by the Celtic tribe Scordisci, who stayed for the next 100 years. With the arrival of the Romans in these areas, the border on the Danube was established, which was supposed to protect the empire from the invasion of the barbarians from the north. Between today’s Petrovaradin and Sremska Kamenica, a Roman fortress was built, the so-called Cusum and the military camp. Near the camp, a settlement sprung up, on the site of today’s Sremska Kamenica. The first written information about Sremska Kamenica comes from 8 July 1237, when the Hungarian king Béla IV donated this property to the Belin Studenac Monastery (a Cistercian Abbey in today’s Petrovaradin). During the Hungarian rule, this craft and trade centre was called Kamenac. With the arrival of the Turks, the place was destroyed and desolated, and it stayed that way until the beginning of the 18th century when the Habsburgs arrived. The place changed its name to Kamenica in 1728, and it passed into the ownership of Count Marczibányi and his son-in-law Karácsonyi. After that, Kamenica developed rapidly, so in 1886, it became a municipality. In 1955, Kamenica was annexed first to Petrovaradin, and then to Novi Sad, and it has remained a part of it since.
One of the favourite picnic spots of Novi Sad residents, which is often on the must-see lists of the curious tourists visiting Novi Sad, is Kamenica Park. With an area of about 20 hectares, it is considered the largest park in the area of Novi Sad. It is located opposite Novi Sad Štrand and Ribarsko Ostrvo, and it is home to the famous Marczibányi–Karácsonyi Castle. Namely, the construction of the castle and the arrangement of the park were started by Marczibányi István, adviser to Empress Maria Theresa. The castle was built by the Marczibányi de Puchó family from 1797 to 1811. From the half of the 19th century to 1918, it was owned by the Karácsonyi family.
The reconstruction of the castle and the construction of the park were accompanied by stories about the love of Guido Karácsonyi and Maria Marczibányi, who loved her life in Vienna. Namely, Guido received the Kamenica manor with a castle as a dowry and decided to move a part of the prestigious Vienna here for Maria. That is when the castle got the appearance of a representative classicist one-story building, which it has retained until today. The park spread over 28 hectares and was designed according to English landscape parks. A sculpture Five Heads was placed on the hill, which the lord called the Hill of Love and the members of the Karácsonyi family were represented on the tops of those pillars. The park was decorated with several other sculptures – the Pompeian Column, Adam and Eve, the Girl who Lies, and the Sphinx. The remains of these works of art can still be seen today in the hidden glades of the park. When you leave the park, you can continue your walk along the promenade along the Danube, from where you can enjoy the view of the river, the Liberty Bridge, Ribarac, and Novi Sad.
After 1918, the castle and the park became the property of the state and the Home of the Serbian-American Friendship was established here, with the involvement of Colonel John Frothingham and his wife Jelena Lozanić, where orphaned children were placed and educated. After World War II, Kamenica Park often changed owners and over time became an oasis for many animal species. The Children’s Village, for children without parental care, was placed here in 1975. Since 2008, the castle has been under state protection, as a cultural monument, and is not open to visitors.
There Are Two Churches in Kamenica
The Serbian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God was built in the spirit of traditional Serbian architecture (Moravian style), with Baroque elements. It was built in the period from 1737 to 1758, in the place where there was a temple beforehand. The Kamenica church preserves a historically significant icon of the Archangel Michael, oil on canvas from 1856. In addition to its artistic value, its importance is reflected in the fact that in 1903, in front of this painting, the conspirators swore that they would overthrow King Alexander I, which they did. In the church, there is also a gospel, which was written in Lviv in 1644, and the gilded cross, which the Serbian delegation received from the Russian Emperor Nicholas I, in 1854. Within the church gates, there is a building in which the first Serbian national school was operating as early as 1701. A new building was later built on the foundations of the old facility.
The Roman Catholic Church of St. Cross was built in 1746, on today’s Zmajev Square, and was later renovated and expanded, thanks to the efforts of Count Márton Marczibányi. In 1869, Count Guido Karácsonyi donated an organ to the church, which has four bells of different sizes.
Law Enforcement School
The school building of the Police Academy (formerly the Internal Affairs High School) was built in 1848, for the needs of the military pioneer school of the Habsburg Monarchy, and was known as the Kamenički Štift, and later the Cadet School. The Gendarmerie and Non-Commissioned Officer School, the Cadet College, which was moved from Osjek, operated in this building, and after World War II, the training of police personnel began. Today, the building is a real historical monument, built in the style of romanticism, by an unknown author. The base of the building is in the shape of the Cyrillic letter ‘Š’ (Ш), with short courtyard wings. There was a park around the building, with an area of about 16 hectares, but today there are many supporting buildings on more than 14 hectares.
Kamenica has always lured the people of Novi Sad with its natural beauty, pleasant climate, quieter life, and a wonderful view of the Danube. The famous Jovan Jovanović Zmaj spent the last years of his life here. The house where he lived from 1875 to 1904 was turned into a museum dedicated to him and is a cultural monument. It is located in the street that bears his name, at number 1. The house originates from the second half of the 19th century, and it was built in a typical Pannonian style, with a rectangular base and a simple façade. The house was opened for visitors in 1933. The permanent exhibition is divided into several units, and the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
From Children to Jova Zmaj
In the immediate vicinity of this house, on Zmajev Square, in the centre of Kamenica, there is a monument From Children to Jova Zmaj, which shows the poet giving a book to a child. The sculpture is the work of the sculptor Ivan Meštrović, who gifted it to Matica Srpska in 1954. It was mounted in its present place in 1973. The name of the elementary school in Sremska Kamenica also bears the name of the famous poet.
In Sremska Kamenica, at 21 Karađorđeva Street, there is a house that is more than 200 years old. As evidenced by the inscription on its facade, it was built in 1797. The façade and exterior are decorated in Baroque style, but the interior of the house has undergone significant changes, as it still serves as a residential building today. There is a memorial plaque on the house, which says that Dr Radivoj Simonović, a Serbian doctor and photographer from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, grew up here.
Numerous Tourist Offers
Today, Kamenica has numerous tourist offers when it comes to restaurants, wine cellars, lodgings, etc. Whether you find yourself in this Srem town by accident or on purpose, you can taste the famous Srem wine in the Šukac cellar, or enjoy the specialities of the Kordun, Campus, Fruškogorska terasa, Sunce, Sremac čarda, etc. and, if necessary, stay overnight in one of the facilities such as the Zmajevo gnezdo.
Author: Historian Ljiljana Dragosavljević Savin, MSc
Photo: Marko Pudić; Vladimir Veličković; Vojvodina Travel