If you fancy an interesting trip that won’t last too long, cost too much, or have you spend most of your time in your car, Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina fits the description perfectly.
Vojvodina is a real melting pot. Everything intertwines here – from climate and customs to languages and cultures. It has one national park – Fruška Gora which is the home to 17 Serbian Orthodox monasteries (the oldest one dating from 15th century), twenty one nature reserves, nine nature parks, twenty castles, thirteen rivers, and five major lakes. This is the place that caters to everyone’s needs and preferences – those who wish a nice, relaxing weekend away, far from hustle and bustle of cities, and those who are always ready for an adventure, preferably an adrenaline fueled one.
We have picked four beautiful locations that are a stone’s throw away from the capital city of Belgrade but these are, by no means, the only attractions you should visit. Vojvodina has definitely plenty more to offer.
1. Fantast Castle (also known as the Dundjerski Castle) – This is, by far, the most elegant castle in Vojvodina with such a rich and eclectic history that will leave you wanting to hear and see more. Back in the late 19th century, the Dundjerski family was considered the Vojvodinian royalty. Although, they were not of blue bloods per se, the family’s wealth and influence were tantamount to those of the most prominent Austro-Hungarian aristocrats.
Bogdan, the head of the Dundjerski family, owed 1,500 hectares of land while the castle’s complex spans 65 hectares. Some say that he built this magnificent structure just to squash the rumours that he was going bankrupt. Others say that he simply wanted to leave some kind of legacy in this part of Vojvodina that would be a true witness of his power and wealth.
Bogdan was a lifetime bachelor, having never married, and a hedonist through and through. His biggest passions were women, wine and horses. His stables were considered one of the best in Europe at the time and, at certain point, he had 1,400 thoroughbreds on the property. Today, tourists can have riding lessons here because there are still around 80 horses and six stables left. You can also take long walks in the area surrounding the castle, or play tennis at one of its courts.
Although the castle was looted and heavily damaged immediately after the World War II, it has been lovingly restored to its original Neo-Gothic style, and today houses a luxury hotel.
The Fantast Castle is located close to the town of Becej, some 60km from Novi Sad and 135km from Belgrade
2. Tour Vojvodina’s Wineries – Vojvodina has been a wine making region since Roman times. It was actually the legions of the Roman Empire that spread viticulture here, in the wake of their military campaigns. The Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius Probus, who was born in the imperial city of Sirmium (today, the town of Sremska Mitrovica in Vojvodina), planted vineyards on the slopes on the Fruška Gora mountain in 232 A.D.
Vojvodina, especially the region around Fruška Gora, is known for its wineries and a production of a very special wine that is endemic to this part of the world. This sweet, dessert wine is called Bermet, it is infused with 20 different herbs and spices, and only a handful of wine making families in and near the town of Sremski Karlovci know the secret recipe for Bermet which is passed on from generation to generation.
According to some documents, Bermet was even served at the Titanic and was one of the favourite wines at the Vienna Court at the time when the Austro-Hungarian Queen Maria Theresa ruled. The legend goes that the Queen liked Bermet so much that, when the Royal Palace run out of this wine because the wine makers from Sremski Karlovci stopped making it having been drafted to the war, she immediately pulled them out of the war just to resume the production of her favourite wine.
There are many wineries to visit in Sremski Karlovci – Kovačević, Bajilo, Dulka, Mačkov Podrum, Kiš, Veritas and Živanović, to name just a few – and most of them will allow you to tour their cellars and taste their wine.
3. Palić Lake – Many say that this is not only one of the most beautiful lakes in Vojvodina, but definitely one of the most beautiful in Serbia. Palić Lake is located 8km from the northern Vojvodinian town of Subotica, and, according to local myths, it was created from the tears of shepherd Pavle who often brought his sheep to graze there.
The lake was mentioned for the very first time in the documents dating back to 1462, while, in early 18th century it was discovered that the lake’s mud and water have medicinal properties. Palić is home to many endemic animal species plus 19 species of fish, 9 species of amphibians, 6 species of reptiles, 207 species of birds, and 20 species of mammals.
Today, Palić Lake is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Vojvodina. You can go sailing here, visit the nature’s reserve, engage in bird watching, and go on hiking tours or a photo-safari. The three beaches all have cycling lanes, and you can do a spot of fishing too. If you prefer a calmer holiday, there are several spas in the hotels on the lake with thermal springs where water temperature never drops below 25 degrees Celsius.
4. Royal Imperial Palace in ancient Sirmium – You might remember that we mentioned the ancient Roman town of Sirmium (today, the town of Sremska Mitrovica) earlier as the birth place of the Roman emperor – Marcus Aurelius Probus.
In 35 B.C.E. Sirmium was one of the strongholds of the Roman Empire in Southeast Europe. The town was formed during the Emperor Augustus’ invasion of Illyricum, and was frequently used as a base for military campaigns against the barbarian groups from the North who had been persistently attacking the frontier in this part of the Empire.
Relevant historical documents show that Roman emperors Domitian, Septimius Severus, Maximinus Thrax, Claudius II Gothicus, Probus, and Diocletian, and the infamous usurpers Ingenuus and Regalian all resided in Sirmium for longer or shorter periods of time.
Photo: Courtesy of Republički zavod za zaštitu spomenika kulture Beograd
Sirmium had everything that a Roman town should have had – the Imperial Palace, adjacent circus, public buildings, Licinian baths, a granary and commercial areas. There were luxury residences and even multi-storied buildings called insulae. The town was protected by thick walls and supplied with water via an aqueduct from one of the springs on the Fruška Gora Mountain. The town streets were paved and flanked by porticoes. There was even a functioning sewer. Local coins were made in the town’s mint while artisans made objects out of precious metals, glass and clay. One of the more magnificent structures here was the shrine dedicated to Jupiter, the Roman god of light and sky.
Today, you can still see and visit the well-preserved remnants of the Imperial Palace in Sremska Mitrovica, enjoy in the Roman mosaics, archaeological excavations, fragments of frescoes, architectural ornaments, and even the heating system that was uncovered beneath almost every floor in the palace.
Cover photo: Courtesy of Natural Travel Office