Petrovaradin Fortress: Gibraltar on the Danube, Novi Sad and Danube beauty, the symbol of Novi Sad. It is a pride and love of the Novi Sad residents, as well as all those who have ever seen and conquered it, overcoming its numerous steps. It is made of history, culture, art and beauty. It is the second largest in Europe and is exceptionally well preserved. The imposing complex that rises above the right bank of the Danube has been built by thousands of people for almost a century and it has been proudly watching over Novi Sad for more than two hundred years. As a cultural and historical monument, the Fortress is one of the favourite places of Novi Sad residents and numerous tourists who visit our city every day. The barracks, arsenals and bastions that were once home to numerous Austrian officials and soldiers, today are the home to exceptional cultural and artistic institutions, and catering facilities.
When I embark on a walk through the Fortress, I usually take the famous stairs from the St. George’s Church in Štrosmajerova Street, climb up to the Upper Fortress or the Upper Ludwig’s Bastion. At the exit from the tunnel, I come across one of the “secrets” of the Fortress for which it is famous and unique in Europe. Tucked under creeping greenery there is the “ITD Gallery”. Its creator, the Novi Sad artist Branislav Radošević, is one of the bastions of art and culture of the Fortress. From his studio and sales gallery, you can take “Serbia in slices” or wear some of the symbols of Novi Sad.
From there, I reach the wall in a few steps and follow its line “upstream”. Then, the magnificent “Long Barracks” stands to my left. A simple building with striking yellow facade. That yellow facade is perforated with openings in which numerous micro worlds are hidden. We can see those worlds if we knock on the heavy wooden door and, with the approval of the host, enter the hidden spaces of the Petrovaradin Fortress. These worlds are woven from paintings in various techniques, photographs, prints, old objects. These are art studios. In them we can meet Borivoje Popržan, Duško Stojanović, Srđan Soldatović, Andreja Baća Vasiljević, Vladislav Šešlija, Martin Candir, Bojan Kiridžić, Ivana Kosanović, Gordana Nonin, Dragan Kurucić and many others. All of them are members of the Association of Artists of the Petrovaradin Fortress “Likovni krug” (“Fine Art Circle“). Back in 1952 already, numerous young artists, led by Jovan Soldatović, decided to turn the unused spaces of the Petrovaradin Fortress into a venue of artistic work. That was how an art colony was born that has been creating in one place for over sixty years. Art studios can also be found in other buildings at the Fortress. About eighty studios have provided working and living space for almost four hundred artists in the past sixty years. That is why it is unique in Europe. That is why our Fortress is also unique.
Outside “Likovni krug” (“Fine Art Circle”), at the end of the “Long Barracks” and the walk, there is another artistic gem. The tapestry gallery “Atelje 61” of exceptional importance and high artistic range is located in an intimate space. “Atelje 61” was founded back in 1961 thanks to the vision and awareness of the artists Boško Petrović and Etelka Tobolka. In the beginning, it was located in the studio of this prominent artist, the founder of tapestry art in our country. Today, as a unique centre of tapestry art in Serbia, but also in the region of the Western Balkans, and one of the few in the world where tapestries are systematically made, nurtured, preserved and popularized, after more than half a century of existence, “Atelje 61” has become one of the most relevant institutions for the history of ideas, tendencies and results of our tapestry art from the second half of the 20th century until today.
Author: Ksenija Vasin