The present contribution comprises three periods of Austrian administration at Sremska Mitrovica, the last years of the existence of the Military Confines (1848 — 1881), the period of the rise of the Serbian middle class (1881 — 1914) and the event which take place in the course of the World War I (1914 — 1918). After the repression of the revolution of 1848, in the territory of the regiment of Petrovaradin the laws and institutions formerly in force were introduced again. At Mitrovica, which was the seat of the regiment headquarters, the military regime made impossible the economic and social prosperity. The citizens took advantage of the fall of Bach's absolutism to realize some rights concerning municipal revenues and local autonomy.

At that time was founded the most ancient cultural institutions: Serbian civil reading room and Serbian church choral society. The dissolution of the Military Confines and the construction of the railway line, which took place a little later, opened widely the door to the unimpeded penetration of the capitalism into this part of Srem, whose center was Sremska Mitrovica. Great changes cam about in the eighties and nineties of the XIX century, when the town from the seat of the headquarters of a military unit in the Confines became an important commercial and financial center. At that time, there were 108 great business houses, 347 artisans' workshops and several banks. The capitals invested in the first industrial enterprises carne from Bohemia, Hungary and Austria. At the end of the XIX century there were about 700 workers employed in the industry. The local branch of the Socialdemocrat party was founded in 1903. The management of the municipal administration was in the hands of Serbians, economically the strongest ethnical group. By a decree of the Serbians, economically, dated on the 2nd of June 1881, the political commune was promoted to the rank of free royal town, with a complete autonomy. The town had its own statutes, its coat of arms and its seal. The organs of the municipal administration are: Municipal assembly, as the enacting body, the mayor and the town administration as executive organisms. According to the census of 1902, the town had 1,817 houses with 11,518 inhabitants; the population was formed of Serbians, Croats, Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians and Slovaks.

The bourgeoisie of individual nationalities manifested its national aspirations by a lively activity of cultural institutions and societies. In addition to five primary schools, a secondary school with modern side and a vocational school, there developed in Mitrovica at that time its activity the first school for deaf-and-dumb children on the whole territory of South Slavs. There were also several reading rooms, choral societies and amateur theatricals. A that time there were issued in the town six local newspapers. When the World War I broke out, Mitrovica, being a frontier town, experienced difficult days. The Austro-Hungarian terror swept down upon the Serbian population. Not far from the town, in a field called Leget, there took place, on the 6th of September 1814, a great fight between the Austrian and Serbian armies in which a whole Serbian regiment of the Timok division was destroyed. On the 1st of November 1918, the citizens overthrew the Austro-Hungarian regime and established the authority of the Popular Council. In this way, after two hundred years, came to an end the domination of the Habsburg emperors in Mitrovica.

Radomir PRICA





Mitrovica has a secular urban tradition. On a comparatively small area with restricted material possibilities and under constant pressure from outside, there developed a lively constructing activity which has left visible traces. At the time when the Petrovaradin regiment of Confines had been founded in 1750 with the seat in Mitrovica, there began a period of intense and important building activity which extended over more than a hundred years, with the stress on the first decades when most of these buildings came into being.  On a town plan from 1780 which was discovered in the War Archives in Vienna as well as on two others preserved in the Museum of Srem, there are inscribed 36 buildings constructed for the needs of the military administration of the Confines. Nine such buildings have been preserved up to the present day, partly or entirely modified. Some of these buildings, for instance the one at the corner of Svetozar Markovic and Braca Radic street or the building in Pinkijeva street number 6, have maintained the principal characteristics of the architecture of the Military Confines: solidity, simplicity an austere symmetry, frontages without any architectural decorations. Simultaneously with the building activity, closely connected with the Military Confines or rather the one which resulted from the needs of the administrative apparatus, there develop another kind of building activity — bourgeois architecture.

The rapid rise of the trade and crafts during the period of the civil administration gave rise to a very lively and accelerated construction of the trading and craft center. On old plans there are clearly to be seen two principal squares, formed at that time, as the first town planning wholes in the modern sense of the term. The monuments of sacral character occupy an important place in the whole of architectonic legacy. Almost all of them, except the old Orthodox church, were built in the interval from the end of the XVIII to the beginning of the XX century. The most interesting of all is the old Serbian church, situated near the Save, built to all probability during the Turkish stay in the town. The church has been restored and the Museum of Church Art is at present in it so that this old and important monument has got an adequate destination and continues to exist under the new conditions. The great Orthodox church of St Stephen's and the Catholic church of St. Demetrius's are representative edifices executed in the classical style. The Ruthenian Ascension Church is of more modest size and of more recent date. When the Military Confines had been abolished in 1881, Mitrovica was granted the autonomy and it obtained the civil administration. From the architectonic and town planning point of view, the most important character of this period is the construction of monumental public buildings and an ample restoration of the old ones.

In this period were recorded for the first time the names of designers, professionally trained architects, such as Vladimir Nikolic. During this interval were constructed many private houses of a rather representative aspect.  The new architecture developed under the influence of the West, of eclectical styles which prevailed in Europe on the transition between the XIX and the XX centuries. 


Gordana PRICA & Branko VASILIĆ



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