About Pancevo

The City of Pančevo is located in South Vojvodina, Republic of Serbia at the confluence of the Tamiš and the Danube rivers, at the very edge of the Panonian Plain. It is the economic, cultural and administrative centre of South Banat and one of the most important industrial centres in the Republic of Serbia. Including its 9 surrounding villages, the city area covers 755 km2. Pančevo is just 15 km away from Belgrade and 40 km away form the Nikola Tesla International Airport. Its ethnically diverse population numbers 128,447 of which majority are Serb. 67% of them are working-age population and 10% are with college or university education which is well over the Republic average.The climate is exceptionally agreeable with the annual average of 12ºC.


When 850 years ago, roaming across the marshlands of Banat, the Arabian geographer and travel book writer Abu Abdulah El Idrisi made a short note about the trading settlement of Bansif, he probably did not know that he made it for all posterity. His writing Pastime for Those Who Wish to Travel the World, dating back to 1153, is the first reliable written document speaking of the settlement found at the confluence of the Tamis and the Danube rivers. This settlement with numerous “resourceful Greek traders” has often changed its name in the course of history. If any Roman travel writer, for example, had stayed there longer, he would have made a note of a settlement called Panuka. It is hard to say how its name changed from Panjajeva and Čomva to Pansala, the toponym found in the 15th century geographic maps. What we can say with certainty is that the Old Slavic word Pačina used to stand for stagnant water or a place in the marshlands.

Today, the town with its close surroundings lies on a dense network of ancient settlements and necropolises, the most important one being Starcevo Town from the Neolith period, about 5,500 years BC. It gave name to an entire Neolith culture stretching from Serbia to Greece - the Starcevo Culture.

City of Pancevo

Evidence of ancient systems of rule in these parts is scarce. Since Middle Ages, Hungarian, Turkish and Austrian rules have taken turn, while the Serbian ethnic entity was continuously present. Some records, although poor, remained from the period of the Turkish rule in Banat. Pancevo was in the hands of the Ottoman Turks from 1552 to 1716, when the Turks retreated before the army of the Austrian count Claudio Floribunda Mersey. The Austrians then urbanized this backwater Turkish town, turning it into a trading centre. As early as 1718 Pancevo became central district town with the right to organise annual fairs. Four years later, one Abraham Kepis originally from Pozun, was granted a license to produce beer and brandy, which means that the beer making tradition of Pančevo dates back to 1722.

In the second half of 18th century, the Military Border was set up as a European defence not only against Turkish raids but also frequent plague outbreaks that raged to the south of the Danube. Pancevo was the headquartes of a major army regiment, but the strict military rules forced the population of Pancevo, mainly Serb and German, to plead with Vienna for the status of a free community. Awarding of this status in 1794 helped the town shake many military duties, merge the German and the Serb community into one, launch a faster urbanization and encourage affiliation of artisans into guilds.

According to the 1795 census, Pančevo population numbered 4,588 people largely male, Orthodox and of artisan background. Pančevo had experienced an urban boom at the beginning of 19th century, when brigadier general Mihovil Mihaljević paved the town streets and squares, built public and military buildings, introduced the system of public lighting and arranged the green town surfaces. In parallel with the town expansion and densification, a solid town core has formed giving Pančevo an urban character, strengthening trade and artisanship and establishing an economic base as a starting point for the town prosperity during 19th century.

At the end of the 19th century, Pančevo had two Orthodox churches, an Evangelical, Reformist, Romanian Orthodox church and one synagogue. There were also the town Grammar School, Artisan School, Trade School, Civil School for Girls, Civil School for Boys, Higher Serbian School for Girls and the Serbian Common School. At the turn of the 18th and 19th century, squares formed around the town core which remain even today as the historic centre of Pančevo. Its public and representative buildings still stand out in size and façade decorations. Various associations grew in number: citizens of all nations and confessions established choruses, societies of artisans, farmers and sportsmen. The Shooting Society was founded in 1813, the Hunting and Gymnasts’ societies in 1833, and the Serb Church Choir in 1838. In this widely positive climate, freed of the military grip, a group of volunteers led by Nikola Đurković recited and sang the songs composed for the lyrics of the Pančevo priest and poet Vasa Živković. Abolishion of the Military Border in 1872 contributed to the social and cultural bloom.

At the end of 19th century, as a municipality in the Hungarian entity of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Pančevo got railway connections with Vršac and Bečkerek. At the same time, the flow of the Tamiš river was regulated. All this contibuted to the development of trade and industry. An obvious symbol of the firm step taken towards the market economy was the Industrial - Artisan Exhibition held in the Pančevo Common Gardens in 1905, with 713 participants from Southern Hungary. Further, social changes were inspired by great political turnovers, most important of which was the annexation of Vojvodina to Serbia upon the end of WWI. Over a period of years after WWI, fast industrialization and population inflow have changed the face of the town. According to 2002 census, the Municipality of Pančevo had over 127,000 inhabitants, 76% of whom declared as Serbs. Today, members of 23 ethnic entities live in Pančevo, among which Macedonian, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, Croat, Muslim, Bosnian, Roma, German, Austrian, Vlach, Greek, Jewish, Tzintzar, Russian, Ruthinian, Chinese, Swiss etc.

Historic data are kept and studied in the following professional institutions: the Town Museum, Town Library, Historic Archive and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments. The Town Museum, which was founded in 1923 houses the archaeology, history, art history and ethnology departments as well as standing exhibition and a special purpose exhibition space. The most important legacies left to this institution are those of Olga Smederevac, Zoran Petrović, Slavko Pavlov and Stojan Trumić, while one of its most valuable exhibits is the large canvas “Seoba Srba” (The Great Movement of the Serbs”) painted by Paja Jovanović.

In 19th century, a large number of reading clubs opened. Today, the Town Library keeps all reading material in departments for children and adults, in the historic and science book stock and the reading room. This institution holds over 135,000 books, the oldest one being Cicero’s “On duties” printed in 1561. The Pančevo Historic Archive keeps 795 different book stocks. One of the best kept ones is the Old Town Hall book stock safekeeping daily materials published from 1794 to 1872. The archive harbours nine kilometres of various written material and is one of the biggest such institutions in the country.

The Institute for protection of cultural monuments takes care of the immovable goods found on the territory of eight municipalities of the South Banat. The City of Pančevo has three immovable cultural monuments of outstanding importance. These are the Transfiguration Church, Vojlovica Monastery and the archeological site of Starcevo Town.

The history of education in Pančevo can be traced back to 1770 when Maria Theresia of Austria transferred the jurisdiction over education from the church to the state. Today, Pančevo City has 21 elementary and 8 secondary schools whose most outstanding pupils also attend the Regional Centre for Talented Children. Thanks to the vicinity of Belgrade, a large number of high school leavers continue their education at some faculty of the Belgrade University.

In the past, the inhabitants of Pančevo often fell victims of diseases and had a short life span. Most victims died during outbreaks of plague which spread from the south to the north, in spite of the sanitary barrier on the Danube.

The first civil pharmacy opened in 1793, while the foundation stone for the first hospital building was put down in 1803. Today, the Pančevo Hospital, with its 750 beds, treats over 20,000 patients annually and services over 300,000 specialist examinations. About 235,000 citizens of Pančevo City as well as the municipalities of Kovin, Kovačica, Opovo and Alibunar use the services of this institution.
In spring 1869, Jovan Pavlović started a weekly in Serbian titled “Pančevac”, which continued to be published to this day. A large number of newspapers in various languages were started in the past, but today, in addition to the “Pančevac’, there are two more journals in Serbian and one in Romanian. Other media companies are the Radio-Television Pančevo and several commercial radio stations.

Pančevo has no theatre today in spite of two centuries long theatrical tradition. The cultural institutions which organise the town’s cultural life are the Culture Centre with a large scope of activities ranging from international art exhibitions to film screenings, and the Youth Centre which is more oriented to the needs of the young public.

The town choir tradition started in 1838, when the first Serb Church Choir was founded on a Serb-populated territory. Later, members of other nations and confessions also founded their choirs. These music societies were champions not only of spiritual life but also entertainment. We now have several active town choirs, the most rewarded one being the Academic Choir “Jovan Bandur” currently marking its 35th year of existence.

Life on the border and the military character of the original settlement have definitely decided the choice of the first sporting society to open in Pančevo: in 1813, the Citizens’ Shooting Club was established. Today, Pančevo numbers about 100 sports clubs whose cabinets are filled with numerous cups and medals.

In the past, more prominent ladies of the town engaged in charity work, but the charity organisations which were established in 19th and the beginning of 20th century no longer exist. At the turn of the 3rd millennium, in a more complex social environment, a large number of NGOs and citizen initiatives appeared trying to contribute to the development of the local community.

First records of any painter in Pančevo were made in 1764. Since then, many famous artists were born and worked in Pančevo. The most prominent among them is the 19th century painter Konstantin Danil who painted the iconostasis at the Church of Our Lady’s Assumption. At the beginning of 20th century, Uroš Predić painted the iconostasis at the Transfiguration Church, thus becoming the last great Serbian ecclesial painter. After WW2, five painters worked within the art group “Pančevo 5” lead by Stojan Trumić, famous for his paintings of Banat. Today, more than 100 painters, members of various professional associations, live in Pančevo. Some 30 years ago, the Art Colony “Deliblatski pesak” was established, having produced over 800 paintings so far. The Modern Art Gallery also has a rich art stock, and it also organises attractive international events like the Biennale of Visual Arts an the Glass Art Workshop.

Of course, the story of our city would be incomplete unless numerous companies are mentioned, the Brewery being the oldest. A town with growing economy needed savings banks – which developed into business banks – in addition to good traffic connections with neighbouring towns and regions and visionaries and strong leaders like Djordje Weifert who shared part of his wealth with his fellow citizens. Today, Pančevo is the centre of oil, chemical, and petrochemical industries whose potential and participation in the gross domestic product exceed that of Montenegro. Over some periods of time, Pančevo was home to great names of Serbian literature like Miloš Crnjanski, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj and Isidora Sekulić. Here, the greatest Serbian comedy writer Branislav Nušić was a trade apprentice, while the world famous physicist Mihajlo Pupin attended Grammar School. Pančevo is also the birth place of our modernist lyrist – Milan Ćurčin, the first Serbian violin virtuoso Dragomir Krančević and the ethnologist Jovan Erdeljanović. Svetislav Kasapinović and Kamenko Jovanović were champions of the political fight for the autonomy of Vojvodina and resistance to the attempts at Germanization and Hungarization of the Serbian population.

Although the Serbs, Germans and Hungarians used to be political adversaries who had violent polemics in the Town Hall and in local newspapers, they still managed to join efforts in order to improve their town and enjoy the local entertainment. Even the posters inviting people to various lectures, concerts and theatrical performances were trilingual. In spite of the bitter experiences from the late 90ies, the citizens of Pančevo have managed to preserve the spirit of tolerance they built in the past.

Pancevo - Official website

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