On the Right Bank of Beauty
They have a theater festival dedicated to Shakespeare, King’s Hill and Royal Villa, the beach from an unforgettable movie, deep forests and a powerful river, the only tunnel in Vojvodina and a stunning viaduct, a unique view of the slopes of Fruška Gora, a mountain lodge that is not reached by climbing but descending, the view that extends as far as Karlovci and Novi Sad... The nature gave Čortanovci so much, and everything else was up to the people and their cleverness. They are still being waited for

Text and Photo: Miodrag Grubački

At the place where Fruška Gora begins or ends, where it is closest to the Danube and where its eastern slopes intertwine with Dubok Dol, through which the Budovar stream flows, lies Čortanovci, a village which, as locals say, has more guests than permanent residents. About two thousand inhabitants live in its eight hundred or so houses, and the so-called ”weekend settlement”, which surrounds it on all sides, has up to three thousand smaller buildings and summer houses whose owners are mainly from Novi Sad and Belgrade.
Traces of settlements here date back to the Neolithic. The found remains of pottery, stone weapons and tools indicate that the first settlers were engaged in cattle breeding, hunting and fishing on the Danube. Later archeological traces date back to the first century of the new era and the time of the Romans, who remained there until the end of the 5th century and left behind several developed settlements, roads and fortifications. The remains of the stone fortification of Castro Hercules, from which an important Roman road from Slankamen to Petrovaradin was protected, have been preserved. The fortification was probably built at the end of the 3rd or the beginning of the 4th century, and today it is possible to see the circular wall of the southeast tower, a little over a meter high, and the walls of the main rampart, almost two meters wide, at the site of Prosjanica. Explorations have shown that part of the fortification is located in the Danube riverbed.


In order to reach the river here, one must descend to the lowest point of Duboki Dol. Roads meander through the dense Mihaljevac forest, and one, to the surprise of passers-by, ends at ”Kozarica” Mountain Lodge, built in 1952 almost on the very bank of the Danube. There is probably not a single mountain lodge on the planet at an altitude of eighty-four meters, especially one that must be reached by descending down a hill. A new interesting scene soon follows: a gentle sandy beach with a wooden gate and the inscription Illusive Summer of’68.
There is no mistake, the intention is evident – it is at this place that the film family of the unsurpassed Bata Stojković, with the sounds of Viennese waltzes and red wine, went through harmless adventures on July of 1962 in the eve of the European turmoil. While Czechs girls from ”Panjenki” orchestra and a series of impressive characters from the local milieu were refreshing in the river, in this cinematographic work of Goran Paskaljević from 1984, the bridge on the highway near Beška, Kovilje Marsh, Arkanj, reefs and ornamental willows can be seen in the Danube infinity, stringed along in the sand. On one of them, a board with inscription ”Willow of Love” again unmistakably points to a famous scene from the film featuring Petar (Slavko Štimac) and Ruženjka (Sanja Vejnović).
The beach and the forest are separated from the rural streets by the Belgrade-Novi Sad railway. Its route runs through the only tunnel in Vojvodina, followed by the viaduct, almost three kilometers long (under construction), thanks to which the people of Čortanovci have lately been often mentioned in the media. The future railway, designed for high-speed trains, descends here from Fruška Gora to the river bank, and continues along the Danube towards Sremski Karlovci and Petrovaradin.
Above the railway rises a part of the settlement called Kraljev Breg (Royal Hill), after King Dragutin Nemanjić, the founder of the monastery of Remet, who owned an estate with a castle in that area. The tradition of luxury facilities is continued by Villa ”Stanković”, which was built in 1930 by cardiologist Radenko Stanković, professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade, personal physician of King Aleksandar I Karađorđević and deputy of King Petar II Karađorđević. The villa was built by the design of our famous architect Dragiša Brašovan, in the style of Serbian medieval castles, and is located on a property that covers 35 acres spread over several terraces. Dr. Stanković came to this location attracted by the stories about the wind of Fruška Gora, which flows between Koviljski Rit and Fruška. He built a villa on a place where it would be logical to build a pulmonary hospital.
After World War II, the building was nationalized and adapted to the protocol needs of state institutions, and now it is under the jurisdiction of the provincial administration in Novi Sad and is not open to the public. The interiors and courtyards of Villa ”Stanković” served as an effective set design for another film made in Čortanovci – Father by Force, which was directed in 1969 by Soja Jovanović.


After the ambient festival ”New Fortress Theater” began here in 2009, in 2014 the director Nikita Milivojević founded ”Shakespeare Fest”, an international theater festival featuring contemporary world productions of plays by William Shakespeare. It has been held every year since then, guided by the idea of ​​nurturing the works of the world’s greatest playwright by performing under the open sky, as in Shakespeare’s time, but also to turn the exceptional space of Villa ”Stanković” into an attractive cultural and tourist site.
A visit to Villa ”Stanković” includes a walk around it, where you can come across unexpected and almost surreal natural watercolors, such as a narrow passage cut between two terraces, covered with a wooden bridge, with steep earthen verticals from which roots and wild greenery emerge.
People in Čortanovci do not forget their famous locals, the most famous probably being Andrija Andra Jović (1877–1945), a pioneer of the Olympic movement in Serbia and the founder of the first football club in Serbia – Belgrade BSK, in 1911. He is the first Serb to be a member of the International Olympic Committee, and he is also the holder of the Albanian Commemorative Medal and twelve war and peacetime decorations. To his honor, the Olympic Committee of Serbia donated to Čortanovci the Olympic flag and declared it the ”Olympic Village”. A memorial plaque placed at his birthplace and a plaque at the entrance to the village are an homage to Jović today.
People here remember the golden age of tourism with melancholy, in the 1970s, when a hotel with one hundred and twenty beds was successfully operating, as well as six restaurants in the Mihaljevac forest, and guests arrived from all parts of the former Yugoslavia. Although naturally destined as a great place to rest, only twenty kilometers from Novi Sad and less than an hour’s drive from Belgrade, Čortanovci have had a hard time overcoming all the transitional turbulences and are again fighting for a tourist place under the sun. Given all the potentials, it is worth hoping and believing that it will begin to thrive again, because everyone will win as a result – the locals, tourists, weekenders, artists, archaeologists, nature lovers... And most of all, passers-by who want something new and unexpected, which is not lacking in this part of Serbia.


Čortan (chortan) a Slavic unit of measurement for about 1.5 kilograms of fish, mostly small carp. As the fish trade has always been present, and in connection with money – a chortan of fish was bought for money – it is believed that the name of the village derives from that word.


The Waters of Saint Sava
At high water levels, you can reach the Kovilj monastery, on the opposite bank, by sailing through a tributary called the Old Danube. Saint Sava also sailed this watercourse in the 12th century, when he went to the monastery to reconcile his brother Stefan with the Hungarian King Andrew II. After staying briefly near Čortanovci, he came across a spring and was recuperated, so the spring has remained It was developed and lined with stone in 1890, and renovated about fifteen years ago.


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