Novi Sad is the main administrative centre of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. There were human settlements going back to prehistory in the area where Novi Sad stands today. Located in the basin of what was once a sea, in the Pannonian Plain, on reclaimed swampland, Novi Sad has always been a place of reconciliation between European and Balkan cultures at the point at which they collide.
Between 1692 and 1780, during the Austro-Hungarian period, the Petrovaradin Fortess, one of the best-known fortifications in Europe, was built on the right bank of the Danube. The city of Novi Sad was founded by skilled merchants and industrious craftsmen who plied their trade in the fortress. Twelve soldiers and twenty bakers, butchers and other craftsmen are recorded for posterity as the founders of the city. When the wealthy residents of Novi Sad bought exemption from feudal administration from Austro-Hungarian Empress Maria Theresa in 1748, freedom and independence became the foundations from which the economic and cultural growth of the city would develop.
A striking feature of Novi Sad is its patchwork of cultures. Both the distant and the more recent past has shown that the residents of Novi Sad have always respected the enduring values of knowledge, work, devotion, peacefulness, tolerance and moderation as the foundations of progress. All this sets Novi Sad apart as a unique place notable for its hospitality, multilingualism and openness. Novi Sad’s 300,000 residents get their life energy from the Danube, a river which has shaped both their temperament and the outline of their city.
The continuity of the city’s cultural development is reflected through the duration and development of nationally important institutions, such as Matica Srpska and the Serbian National Theatre. In Petrovaradin Fortress, tourists can visit the Novi Sad City Museum which houses the Department of Cultural History exhibition, a permanent display showing the city from the first half of the 18th century to the mid-20th century, as well as the Planetarium with its observatory. Tourists who visit Novi Sad can also browse the extensive collections housed in the Museum of Vojvodina, the Novi Sad branch of the Institute for Nature Conservation (the collection has 60,000 exhibits), the Matica Srpska Gallery (with more than 7,000 works of art) and the Gallery of Fine Arts – Gift Collection of Rajko Mamuzić (which includes a collection of Serbian fine art from the second half of the 20th century). Novi Sad is also home to the Collection of Foreign Art, the Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection (with some of the finest examples of Serbian painting from the first half of the 20th century), the Heritage Collection in Sremski Karlovci and the Jovan ‘Zmaj’ Jovanović Memorial Collection in Sremska Kamenica.
Novi Sad is a city of cultural events and festivals. They include Sterijino Pozorje, the Zmaj Children’s Games, the Novi Sad Music Festivities, the International Jazz Festival, the Cinema City Film and Media Festival, the International Alternative and New Theatre Festival – INFANT, the Videomedeja International Video-Art Festival, the International Tourist Danube Regatta, the International Agricultural Fair, the LORIST International Fairs of Hunting, Fishing, Sport, Tourism and Science, and EXIT – the largest music festival in southeast Europe.
Novi Sad University has 19 faculties and specialised departments in which classes are held in national minority languages or in which those languages can be studied.
Due to the excellent grape growing conditions, the vineyards of Fruška Gora have been amongst the most important in Central Europe since the Middle Ages. In the Fruška Gora region there are three winemaking centres: Petrovaradin with Sremski Karlovci, Irig and Erdevik.
Not far from Novi Sad is the Fruška Gora National Park which harbours habitats of a large number of animal species. In Fruška Gora, besides forests, valuable ecosystems and geological features, there are also the famous Fruška Gora monasteries and a large number of picnic sites, including Iriški Venac, Zmajevac, Andrevlje and Koruška, as well as the Međeš and Borkovac lakes.
On the shoreline of the Danube near Novi Sad there is the Koviljsko-Petrovaradinski Rit marsh, a significant bird habitat which is home to some rare and endangered species. Each year at the beginning of June a photo-safari is held in the marsh.