Sremski Karlovci

Sremski Karlovci, the baroque wine town

The romantic town of Sremski Karlovci is nestled on the northeastern slopes of Fruška Gora in Serbia. It was the seat of patriarchs and the place of the first  Serbian Orthodox School in the Habsburg Monarchy. This town of kuglofs and the wines had a huge role in the cultural and spiritual life of Serbian people for more than two centuries.

Sremski Karlovci Gostina 4 Lava and Karlovac Grammar School

Sremski Karlovci, Restaurant 4 Lions and Karlovac Grammar School

 

How to get to Sremski Karlovci

The city belongs to the Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina. It is located on the right bank of the River Danube, about 11 km far from Novi Sad, and 80 km from Belgrade.

The easiest way to visit is individually or within excursions organized by local agencies in Serbia. Also, you can take a bus (check the schedule here) or train from Novi Sad to Sremski Karlovci (check the schedule here).

 

A few words about the history of Sremski Karlovci

The first mention of Sremski Karlovci dates back to 1308, as a fortress named Karom, built on Roman foundations.

This area was under the Ottoman rule from the early 16th to the late 18th century. But when the town and this region became part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire, many Serbs emigrated to Vojvodina from other parts of Serbia, as well as the Hungarians, Germans and Romanians.

By the way, Sremski Karlovci became known in 1699, as the place where the round table was used for the first time in international diplomacy during negotiations. In honour of this memorial day, the Chapel of Peace was erected at the beginning of the 18th century on the hill above Sremski Karlovci. The agreement is known as the Karlovci Peace Treaty. It was signed between the Habsburg Empire, the Russian Empire, Poland and Venice on one side, and the Ottoman Empire on the other.

Vojvodina region became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, in 1918, and then renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. After the Second World War, it became an autonomous province of the Serbian Republic, and it has the same status in the Republic of Serbia.

 

What to see and visit in Sremski Karlovci

Almost all important sights are in the central zone around the Square of Branko Radičević and within walking distance. The centre is a pedestrian zone, with restaurants, bars and important buildings.
We visited this charming town after visiting the monasteries of Fruška gora on one sunny day in October.

 

The Patriarchal Court

Sremski Karlovci became an important centre of Serbian Orthodox culture after the First Great Migration of Serbs in 1690, and later after the abolition of the Patriarchate of Peć (Kosovo) in 1766. In 1713, Karlovci was declared the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate. 

The current Patriarch Court was built from 1892 to 1894 by the patriarch Georgije Branković. It was built in the style of Italian palaces, with three backyard parts. Well, this is the most impressive building in Sremski Karlovci and probably in Vojvodina.

Sremski Karlovci Patriarch Court

The Patriarch Court

 

Today, the Patriarchal Court is the seat of the Bishop of Srem, the Eparchial Administrative Board, and the Ecclesiastic Court. It is a summer residence of the Serbian Patriarch, as well. Uroš Predić, the famous Serbian painter, painted the court chapel.

Sremski Karlovci Patriarch Palace

Entrance to the Patriarch Court from the backyard

 

Sremski Karlovci Inside of the Patriarch Court

Inside of the Patriarch Court

 

You can visit the Treasury and the Museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church within the court. There are various valuable items, icons, and works of art from the 18th and 19th centuries. Some items are from destroyed churches in Bosnia and Croatia.

Sremski Karlovci Inside of the Patriarch Court

Exhibition items in the Museum of Orthodox Church, Patriarch Court

 

The fence with iron bars, a wall, trees and flowers surround the court. An interesting old white-marble column is in front of the court, and the Patriarch winery is across the building. In 1920, the new central residence of the Serbian Patriarch was built in Belgrade, and Sremski Karlovci lost its previous significance.

Patriarch Cellar Sremski Karlovci

Patriarch Cellar

 

The Clerical High School of St Arsenije Sremac

The first Clerical High School of St. Arsenije Sremac was founded by Metropolitan Stefan Stratimirović in 1794.

Sremski Karlovci the Clerical High School of St Arsenije Sremac

Left: Premier Prezident Hotel; right: The Clerical High School of St Arsenije Sremac

 

Today’s school is located close to the Patriarch Court. It was built in 1900 by the Patriarch Georgije Branković. You can see his bust inside the building. Visits are possible only by appointment.

Interestingly, the entrance staircase is surrounded by two interesting statues of barechested sphinxes.

Sremski Karlovci the Clerical High School of St Arsenije Sremac

The facade and the entrance of the Clerical High School of St Arsenije Sremac

 

Behind this building, there is the Theological Seminary, the boarding school for students of the Clerical High School. It was built in 1903 by Patriarch Georgije Branković.

Sremski Karlovci Srpski Pravoslovni Bogoslovski Internat

The Theological Seminary

 

The oldest pharmacy

On the Branko Radičević Square, surrounded by cafes, there is one of the oldest pharmacies in Vojvodina.
It was built in 1890 and it is still working 🙂

Sremski Karlovci the Old Pharmacy House

The Old Pharmacy house

 

The pharmacy is known for its specific wooden interior made in Venice. Even today you can see the Latin inscriptions on the wooden drawers. And of course, the cash register is amazing 🙂

Sremski Karlovci Old Pharmacy Stara Apoteka

Interior of the old pharmacy

 

The Church of Holy Father Nikolai

Next to the Patriarch Court, there is the Orthodox Church of Holy Father Nikolai, built in the middle of the 18th century.

Sremski Karlovci Church of Saint Nikolai

Church of Saint Nikolai

 

The interior of the church looks stunning.

Sremski Karlovci Inside of the Church of Saint Nikolai

Iconostas of the Church of Saint Nikolai

 

Jacof Orfein and Teodor Kračun, the famous Serbian icon painters, painted the iconostasis. This is the masterpiece of Serbian Baroque painting in Vojvodina.

Iconostais of Church of Holy Father Nikolai

Iconostasis of the Church of Holy Father Nikolai

 

 

Sremski Karlovci Church of Holy Father Nikolai

Church of Holy Father Nikolai

 

In front of the iconostasis, there is a part of relics of St Arsenius of Srem, the patron of the Eparchy and the Seminary. Also, several bishops were buried in the crypt of this church.

Sremski Karlovci Relics in the Church of Holy Father Nikolai

Relics in the Church of Holy Father Nikolai

 

On the walls, there are several paintings of Paja Jovanović, the famous Serbian painter.

Sremski Karlovci Paintings in the Church of Holy Father Nikolai

Paintings in the Church of Holy Father Nikolai

 

The Catholic Church

Next to the Church of St Nikolai, there is the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, painted in yellow. It was built in 1768 in the Baroque style and it was restored several times. The church is known for its carved door, but it was closed during our visit.

Sremski Karlovci Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church

 

The “Four Lions” Fountain

One of the town’s symbols is the “Four Lions” Fountain.
It is located close to the churches, and it is a favourite meeting place for both locals and tourists.

The Baroque fountain was built in 1799 from the red marble. It was renovated in 2007, and the water flows from the jaws of four lion heads.

Sremski Karlovci Fountain 4 Lions

“Four Lions” Fountain

 

According to the legend, everyone who drinks water from the fountain will come again to Sremski Karlovci.
Someone says that you can come again and stay, or even get married there 🙂

Sremski Karlovci the four Lions Fountain

The “Four Lions” Fountain

 

City Hall of Sremski Karlovci

The impressive building of the City Hall is located across from the “Four Lions” Fountain and the churches.

Centre of Sremski Karlovci

City Hall at the centre of Sremski Karlovci

 

This building was built between 1808 and 1811 in neoclassical style. From its balcony, the Serbian Vojvodina (Dutchy) was proclaimed in May 1848. It was used for various purposes, even as a prison. However, today it is the seat of the Municipal Government of Sremski Karlovci.

the City Hall of Sremski Karlovci

The City Hall of Sremski Karlovci

 

Karlovci Grammar School

Behind the fountain, there is a marvellous building of the Karlovci Grammar School.
It is the oldest high school in Serbia, and probably the most beautiful gymnasium.
The school was founded in 1791 by metropolitan bishop Stephen Stratimirović with the permission of Emperor Leopold II.

The respectable merchant Dimitrije Anastasijević Sabov and the wealthy citizens of Karlovci helped the bishop with financial resources.

In the beginning, the school had six grades, four lower and two higher, and the language of instruction was Latin. In 1852, the seventh and eighth grades were added. Interestingly, since 1907, girls could also go to school, but under the control of their parents.

Sremski Karlovci Karlovci Grammar School

Karlovci Grammar School

 

However, the present building was built in 1891 with the help of Patriarch Georgije Branković and the brothers German and Stevan Anđelić. There is a note on the top of the building and above the entrance: “The Anđelić brothers to the Serbian people”. The Hungarian architect Gyula Partos made a design for this beautiful building combining red and yellow colours on the facade.

Sremski Karlovci Entrance to the Karlovci School

The facade and the entrance to the Karlovci School

 

I was very impressed by the school building.
Unfortunately, we could not visit the old school library which has over 18,000 books, manuscripts, and magazines. A very valuable item is the phototype edition of “Miroslav’s Gospel”. It is the first real and complete facsimile of the oldest Serbian Cyrillic book written in the 12th century.

Also, there is Volni’s herbarium from the end of the 18th century, which is the oldest herbarium collection in the Balkans.

Sremski Karlovci Inside of the Karlovac School

Inside of the Karlovac School

 

Branko Radičević

Many famous Serbs and intellectuals studied in this school. One of them was Branko Radičević (1824-1853), the Serbian romantic poet.
His bust is located in the courtyard of Karlovci school. Also, the main square and the street where the school is located are named after him.

By the way, his most famous poem is “The Parting of School Friends”, in which he wrote about pupils’ games and life in Sremski Karlovci. If you have time, visit the Museum of City to learn more about him. His tomb is located on the Stražilovo Hill, 4 km far from Sremski Karlovci.

Sremski Karlovci Statue of Branko

The bust of Branko Radičević

 

Karlovci School today

Today, the gymnasium is a philological school where students learn classical languages (Latin, and Old Greek), but also modern languages, history and geography.

And there is one interesting thing about the school. It was a place where the cult Serbian movie “Barking at the Stars” was filmed. 

 

Viewpoint and statue of Duško Trifunović

The city’s best view is from the hilltop known as the Magarčev breg. Prepare to follow the narrow and interesting path of many steps coloured in blue with the inscribed names of various fish on them 🙂

Sremski Karlovci the Path to the Viewpoint

The path to the viewpoint of Sremski Karlovci

 

But when you reach the top, there is a breathtaking panoramic view of the town, the Danube River, and Fruška Gora. The viewpoint has two levels, and in the open part, you can see the gilded cross.

Sremski Karlovci Panoramic View from the Viewpoint

The panoramic view of Sremski Karlovci from the viewpoint

 

On the second level, you can see the statue of the Serbian poet Duško Trifunović (1933-2006).

Viewpoint of Sremski Karlovci and the Statue Od Duško Trifunović

The viewpoint of Sremski Karlovci and the statue of Duško Trifunović

 

By the way, he wrote many beautiful poems which well-known Serbian musicians arranged making popular songs in ex-Yugoslavia. Most people don’t even know that the lyrics of these favourite songs are the work of Duško Trifunović. Some of them are:
◊ Bijelo Dugme: Ima neka tajna veza, Pristao sam biću sve što hoće;
♦ Zdravko Čolić: Glavo luda,  Malo pojačaj radio, Rijeka suza i na njoj lađa, Da mi nije ove moje tuge, Ljubomora;
◊ Seid Memić-Vajta: Bilo mi je lijepo s tobom, Zlatna ribica, Lejla, Ne očekuj da te iko razumije;
♦ Indexi: Ti si mi bila u svemu naj, naj, naj;
◊ Željko Joksimović: Ima nešto u tom što me nećeš, etc.

After the outbreak of war, he escaped from Sarajevo in 1992, and he lived in Novi Sad and Sremski Karlovci. But he wished to be buried in the Čerat cemetery in Sremski Karlovci. So, this spot is also known as “The Duško viewpoint” by him.

The viewpoint can be visited from the 1st of Aprile to the 31st of October.

 

Wineries and Bermet wine 

This region was known by grapes from the Roman times and the reign of Aurelius Probus. He planted the first grapevines on the slopes of Fruška gora, and since then, the production has been constantly developing through the centuries.

The dessert Bermet wine is the speciality of this region. It was served on the royal Wienna court, and according to the legend, on the famous Titanic, as well.

Today, Sremski Karlovci is a very important spot on the Fruška gora wine road. By the way, there are 18 wineries and wine cellars in town. Check their opening time and make a reservation for visiting and wine degustation.

So, we visited the Bajilo cellar, located in the centre of the town, in the lagums from 1864.

Sremski Karlovci Bajilo Wine Cellar

Bajilo Wine Cellar

 

The Bajilo family came in 1966 from Dalmatian origin. They brought the rich winegrowing culture and wine tradition to Sremski Karlovci. Today, the Bajilo wine house is one of the largest producers of grapes in Sremski Karlovci, grown on the slopes of Fruška gora.

Sremski Karlovci Bajilo Wine Cellar

Inside of the Bajilo Wine Cellar

 

We enjoyed the degustation of the excellent Bajilo wines, and of course, the Bermet wine.
Well, it wasn’t easy to decide which of them to buy and bring home… 🍷🤩

Sremski Karlovci Bajilo Wines

Bajilo Wines and famous Bermet wines

 

Accommodation and restaurants in Sremski Karlovci

You can spend half or a whole day visiting the town and tasting delicious Vojvodina cuisine and wines.

Take a break for coffee, cake, lunch or dinner in the restaurants in the centre.
“Bermet Villa” offers an excellent choice of wines and dishes.
◊ “Gostiona kod Četiri lava is next to the fountain “Four Lions”, in the house from the XVIII century and it has a nice outdoor area.
♦ The small pastry shop “Belilo” offers delicious ice cream and traditional cakes, located next to the old pharmacy.
◊ “Dunavska terasa”  restaurant offers great food and it has the best terrace with a beautiful view of the river Dunav. The wedding celebrations are often organized there, as well. It is a part of the hotel complex “Dunav”, situated about 500 m from the centre.

But if you like to spend one or more days, you can choose between apartments, guest houses or villas close to the town. Enjoy 5* Premier President Hotel&Spa, located next to the Clerical High School of St Arsenije Sremac for luxury moments.

 

 

Festivals in Sremski Karlovci

Various manifestations and art colonies take place there during the year. The most famous events are:
♦ “The Grožđebal – Karlovačka berba grožđa” is held at the end of September.
◊ “The Kuglof festival” at the end of May is dedicated to the traditional cake.
♦ The poetry festival “Brankovo kolo”, the Film festival, etc.

Check here the schedule of events.

 

Visit Sremski Karlovci

In one day, you can combine the visit to this town and the monasteries, hiking or walking in the beautiful greenery of Fruška gora. Also, you can visit Novi Sad city and the impressive Petrovaradin Fortress.

Whether it is a romantic weekend or a stop within organized excursions, there are many things to see and do in this charming city of spiritual life, poems, wine, and kuglofs.

And, I am sure that visiting Sremski Karlovci will remain a pleasant memory.

Sremski Karlovci Wine Shops

A street with wine shops in Sremski Karlovci

 

 

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Natania
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