Serbia: Bač Fortress hosts high-profile ceremony to celebrate Europe’s top heritage Award

On 1 October, the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Petrovaradin, hosted the National Award Ceremony for the rehabilitation of the Bač Fortress, a Grand Prix winner of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2018, Europe’s highest honour in the field. Mr. Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Mrs. Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary-General of Europa Nostra, jointly unveiled the bronze Awards plaque on the Donjon Tower, accompanied by local children and representatives of the numerous different nationalities living in Bač and its surroundings.

2018 Local Award Ceremony for the Bač Fortress, Serbia

The ceremony was opened by addresses delivered by Commissioner Navracsics and the Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

Tibor Navracsics congratulated the entire team for its hard work and determination which led to this well-deserved success. “The success of the framework “Centuries of Bač” led it to become a model for how to implement an integrated and holistic approach to heritage conservation, while at the same time creating conditions for socio-economic development benefitting the wider community. It is also a leading example of national and European projects working in synergy. The approach grew from one originally centred on the Bač Fortress to one which defines this Danube region as a cultural landscape. Owing to the sustainable conservation, the Bač Fortress has been revived and transformed into a tourist and education centre,” stated the Commissioner.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović also praised this exemplary heritage achievement from Serbia. “The award-winning rehabilitation project of the Bač Fortress sets an outstanding example and is a powerful incentive for future projects that will bring new life to cultural heritage and, in this way, offer multiple benefits to the local communities”.

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra thanked Commissioner Navracsics for his great commitment to the preparation of an ambitious European Action Plan for Cultural Heritage. “In the spirit of this future European Action Plan, full attention should be paid to cultural heritage within the framework of the accession negotiations between Serbia and the European Union as well as other countries in the region. Serbia’s cultural heritage is a priceless treasure for this country and for Europe as a whole. Cultural heritage is a strategic resource for society, economy, culture and the environment and its great potential must be fully unlocked”.

Ms. Asja Drača Muntean, representing the Ministry of Culture, Ms. Dragana Milošević, representing the Provincial Government, and Mr. Borislav Antonić, the Mayor of Bač, and co-host of the ceremony, also addressed the audience. Following the interventions by Dr. Slavica Vujović, author and manager of “The Centuries of Bač” project, and Mr. Zoran Vapa, Director of the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Commissioner Navracsics and the Secretary General of Europa Nostra unveiled the bronze Awards plaque.

The Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, the host of the ceremony and the leading organisation behind the rehabilitation project of the Bač Fortress, also had the opportunity to give copies of the Awards certificates to the main partners of the project – the Museum of Vojvodina, the Faculty of Technical Sciences (University of Novi Sad) and the Municipality of Bač.

Among the guests of honour were His Excellency Mr. Sem Fabrizi, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, Ms. Asja Drača Muntean, Assistant to the Minister for International Relations and European Integration, Ms. Danijela Vanušić, Assistant to the Minister for Cultural Heritage, Ms. Dragana Milošević, Provincial Secretary for Culture, Public Information and Relations with Religious Communities, and Mr. Ivan Đoković, Vice-President of the Provincial Government and Provincial Secretary for Economy and Tourism.

Representatives from the two other Serbian projects who were awarded in 2018 – the Conservation Project of the Pavilion of Prince Miloš at the Bukovička Spa in Arandjelovac and the Research and Cataloguing of the State Art Collection in Belgrade were also present along with delegates from national, provincial and local institutions and colleagues from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Vukovar, Croatia. Representatives from several religious communities and different associations, heritage enthusiasts and a number of Bač’s residents were also in attendance.

A professionally guided visit to the Donjon Tower and the Franciscan Monastery in Bač, which is the newest rehabilitation project to be undertaken within the “Centuries of Bač” project and which has been financed with an EU grant, was organised for the ceremony participants, who also had the opportunity to enjoy a small concert performed on baroque organs by local student David Bertran.

“Ever since 2003, the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Petrovaradin, through “The Centuries of Bač” project, has been fighting a battle to improve the conditions of its cultural heritage sites and to create stronger connections with the community, promoting local talent and strengthening local associations. Therefore, we are extremely proud that so many local people and associations contributed to the ceremony programme, such as David Bertran, Magdalena Kanja, children from the chamber orchestra of the Elementary School ‘Jan Kolar’ from Selenča, the conductor Dr. Juraj Suđi, the association ‘Kolevka Bačke’ and the traditional restaurant ‘Didina kuća’”, noted Dr. Slavica Vujovic, the Architect Conservator responsible for the rehabilitation project of the Bač Fortress.

The full day’s programme presented a unique opportunity to reflect and discuss new approaches to preserving cultural heritage. At a round table discussion entitled “Berlin Call to Action – Initiatives Deriving from the Award Winning Centuries of Bač Project”, international cooperation and the potential for development within professional and local communities was explored.

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