Novi Sad is one of the three largest cities in Serbia, and only an hour’s drive from Belgrade. Although it has never entered any competition for the most beautiful town in the country, if such a contest existed, it could easily win the Grand Prix. Novi Sad also owes its beauty and grace to its inhabitants who in this era of fast communications have preserved the tranquility of lowlanders and natural kindness. Under the Petrovaradin Rock, a little Pannonia hill of Mt. Fruska Gora, a young town on the Danube was born – Novi Sad, in existence for a little bit over 300 years. First references to it date from 1694, two years after the construction of Austria’s Petrovaradin Fortress had begun. There, at the ”Gibraltar of the Danube”, on the 1,255th kilometer of this river, the medieval Hapsburg monarchy had risen from the ashes by building this Fortress, after the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 had been fought off. In the place where the three rivers meet – the Danube, the Tisa, and the Sava, and so do three civilizations – those of Christian East and of Christian West and of Islam, many ethnic and religious communities found shelter and sanctuary. The place saw the Gepids, Huns, Avars, Slavs, Germanic peoples, Magyars, Byzantines, Turks… On the Petrovaradin Rock, Romans had erected a fortress, which was later rebuilt by the Hungarians and kept by the Turks. After the Turks had been expelled at the end of the 17th century, the Austrians built a bridgehead facing the fortress, on the left, marshy bank of the Danube, around which a settlement of soldiers, merchants, and tradesmen developed. In the beginning, the settlement was named Racko Selo (’Serbian Village’), and later Petrovaradinski Sanac (’Petrovaradin Trench’). As the town grew, after the wars had ended in early 18th century, the townspeople, eager to get their freedom, succeeded in gaining the status of a FREE ROYAL CITY, after paying a buy-off amount of 80,000 Forint; the status was granted by Empress Maria Theresa, and the name acquired was, in Serbian version, NOVI SAD. The date was February 1, 1748.
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