The Bač fortress
The Bač Fortress represents the most sigificant and the best preserved medieval fortress in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. The Bac Fortress is an authentic "water town/burg", designed as a defence system adapted to marshy land, quite unique among the fortifications on the left side of the Danube River.It is to west from the Bac settlement, erected on an elevation surrounded by a deep Mostonga River meander. The complex – the spatial cultural and historical unit consists of a fortified castle with a barbican and an area where the mediaeval suburb used to be, now only a mediaeval Gate Tower remains.
The period between 1338 and 1342, when king Charles Robert Anjou strengthened the border of the kingdom, is connected with the formation of a part of today’s fortress. This is the time of the rise of Emperor Dušan and the Serbian - Hungarian wars, as King Charles mentioned in a letter as a threat and the reason for undertaking the work on the fortress in Bač. The strengthening and upgrading of the fort lasted for almost two centuries. Work on strengthening and adapting the fortress to new military and engineering requirements was led by archbishops who were often prefects. Efforts of Peter Varadi II, a humanist, scholar and art lover who rounded architectural oeuvre and deepened defense water trenches around the fort in the period between 1495 and 1501 are recorded. In one of the letters sent from Bač, the Archbishop wrote: "We can enjoy the purest Danube water, and if Narcissus were alive, he would be able to enjoy looking at this image in the water!" Last reconstruction, before the Ottoman rule, was during the time of Father Paul Tomori (1523 – 1526). The defensive system was then completed.
Suburbium of the fortress, surrounded by palisades, was located on a naturally elevated terrain formed by the meandering of the river Mostonga, in the direction of east to west. The town was entered by bridge and through the front gate of the tower. In the northwestern part of the meander, there was a fortified castle located on the island. The castle could be reached by passing through a separated barbican surrounded by water from all sides. The plateau where the fortress is built is relatively small in size and covers an area of 8,700 m2. The basis of the fortress, measuring 5,600 m2, has a trapezoid shape adjusted to the terrain. There were five protruding defence towers with firing lanes on the corners connected by a 2.5 m wide and 12 m high rampart. The towers were different shapes and sizes. The eastern part of the fortress was best defended, since there was a donjon tower with a residential palace, a well and a cistern. Buildings for different purposes leant against the inner side of ramparts - palaces, economic structures along the western rampart and a number of grain pits. All the buildings were constructed of brick with stone used for decorative elements.
On the outside, the fortress looked well-fortified, powerful, beautifully shaped and dominated the fertile plains of Bačka. A circular tower with balconies on stone consoles was drawing special attention. A tower with a Gothic chapel on the first floor stood out inside the fortress, as well as the donjon tower - the most dominant object of the fortress. The donjon tower had a regular square base and was oriented diagonally to the sides of the world, with a separate spiral staircase in the north-western façade and protruding toilets on the northeast facade. Palaces were adorned with terracotta elements made in the spirit of the early Italian Renaissance.
The first time Bаč fell into Turkish hands was in 1526 after the Battle of Mohač when the Turkish army was led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The role of the Serbian "Emperor" Jovan Nenad, who won Bаč back in 1527, was noted as well as the fact that after his death, Serbian despot Stefan Berislavić tried to strengthen the defense system in this part of the Danube. Turks finally occupied Bačka fortress in 1529, but the government was established after 14 years. In the long period of Turkish domination the fortress was in deep behind with small crew. Valuable information about Bač, the fortress and the suburbium was left by Evliya Çelebi. During a visit to Bač in 1665, among other things he noted this: "It's a great fortress on a lake that receives water from the Danube; it has a rectangular shape and it is made of brick ... In this town there is another big tower – a real cosmorama facing the lake. There is a wonderful rest area like the emperor’s. It's a castle as beautiful as Havernek where all enlightened and sincere friends of the town meet to relax and have fun".
Judging by documents and old engravings, the town did not suffer severe damage during the liberation from the Turks in 1686.
During the Rakocije uprising Bač suffered heavy losses and the fortress was destroyed several times. After being blasted in 1704, the fortress was abandoned. Being unable to be used for defense, the fortress began to live a new life – as a glorious ruin. It was especially interesting to treasure seekers and those who were taking brick and stone for almost two and a half centuries.
In 1948, the fortress in Bač got the status of a cultural monument, which has stopped further deterioration and removal of materials and opened the way to an organized care for its preservation.
(аутор текста: Др. Славица Вујовић, архитекта-конзерватор).