Sremska Mitrovica: From ancient Sirmium to urban city in Serbia
January 1, 1970
by Jellena Milla Jovanovic
Sremska Mitrovica lies on the remains of ancient Sirmium, one of four capitals of Roman Empire. It was founded before 4th century BC, in province Pannonia. It’s located on the northern bank of the river Sava, 76km west of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The city is significant administrative, economic, cultural and educational center. The extremely favorable geographical position of the city is conditioned by the proximity of the highway, the international railway line, the airport Nikola Tesla ( 60km distance), the sports airport in the nearby village Veliki Radinci, as well as the fact that the city lies on the river which connects it with important destinations across the European continent.
Sremska Mitrovica through history
The city was originally inhabited by Illyrians and Celts. It was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC. Many of Roman emperors were born in this city or in its surroundings. One of them, Marcus Aurelius, most likely died here in 180 BC. Sirmium was one of the centers of early Christianity and a place of Christian martyrdom. Well preserved remains of Christian basilica in the center of the city bear witness to this. The Huns destroyed the city in the 5th century, but it was restored to the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century. Sirmium fell to Avars after a long siege in 582.
The remains of Sirmium
Most archaeological monuments belong to the second century and later. Remains of the Imperial residence have been identified in the southeast of Sremska Mitrovica, a basilica, and a hippodrome. Two cemeteries, a grain silo, and baths have been identified in other places, while the course of the city wall can be followed for quite some distance. Artifacts from excavations, frescos, a Roman ship, numerous inscriptions and architectural pieces can be found in the Museum of Srem and the Museum of Vojvodina, in Novi Sad.
One of the most important archaeological discoveries is the palace – circus architectural complex, the Imperial Palace. It was built at the end of the 3rd or at the beginning of the 4th century. Evidence of the luxurious interior, the fragments of frescoes, mosaic pavements and architectural ornaments imported from different parts of the Empire, can be seen on the archeological site. The visitors’ center at the Imperial Palace complex is open from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm.
St. Irinej’s Bridge – The longest pedestrian bridge in Europe
St. Irinej’s Bridge is a pedestrian bridge over the river Sava, between Sremska Mitrovica and Macvanska Mitrovica. With a total length of 262,2 meters, this is the longest hanging pedestrian bridge in Europe. The bridge is located exactly on the site of former Roman Artemis Bridge, one of the largest buildings of the ancient Sirmium. At the time of persecution of Christians, “the holy martyrs of Sirmium” were executed on it. The bridge got its name after one of them.
Places you can see and enjoy in
National Park Fruska Gora
This park is located between Sremska Mitrovica and Novi Sad, the capital of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. It’s a half-hour drive away or less. If you want to escape from everyday obligations and city turbulence, to spend a pleasant time in nature with your family or friends, you have a number of picnic areas on Fruska Gora. Most of these areas have benches and tables, they are located near the roads, restaurants, cultural and historical monuments. Fruska Gora is adorned with numerous Orthodox monasteries of extreme importance for national identity and spirituality of Serbian people. It is also famous for its wines that can be tasted in over 60 wine cellars. Sports fishing can be organized on the accumulation lakes of Fruska Gora, or you can just relax and enjoy on the beautiful banks of the Danube.
Special Nature Reserve Zasavica
This Special Nature Reserve is located only 20km far from Sremska Mitrovica. It’s famous for extremely rare species of plants and animals. There is a visitors’ center, a wooden building with a high tower, offering a fantastic view of the surroundings. There are many marshes and pastures. Zasavica is a place where you can enjoy the untouched nature in peace and quiet. You can sleep over in the visitors’ center. There are two rooms with a total of seven beds, and in front of it, there is a pier for boats that are moored. There is also a caravan park. You can enjoy local cuisine in the “Beaver’s Bar” or you can prepare food by yourself. This Reserve provides excellent opportunities for fishing.
City attractions and manifestations
This city offers a number of events that take place throughout the entire year and I’m certain that you will find yourself in one of them.
In early May, a traditional Motorcycle rally is held, for all the bike fans, who can enjoy the music of popular rock bands from this area. For summer lovers, fun is guaranteed on the beautiful beach “Brioni”. A variety of sports events and nightclubs offer a good time throughout the season, from June until September.
One of the leading cultural events is Srem Folk Fest, the international festival of folklore that is traditionally held every year in August. The aim of the Festival is to connect people from all over the world through song, dance, and music.
Sirmium Rock Fest is a two-day music festival of the less known bands, with the intention to promote them, but also to gather young people that binds the music. If you are a jazz fan, there is the SM Jazz ‘n’ Blues Spring Fest.
Night of the Museums is a cultural event during which the museums stay open late into the night for those who prefer this kind of fun.
Fireworks Festival is an entertainment for the whole family, and in addition to fireworks, visitors can enjoy in the amusement park.
For all wine lovers, including myself, there is a Golden Day of Wine. It is an international wine celebration, which is held in Sirmium on the birthday of Emperor Probus, 19th August, in the complex of the Imperial Palace. Visitors can enjoy wine tasting and high-quality music program.
And for those who prefer the winter, there is also a Magical Square, an event that completes the new year’s good mood. The program is rich with content intended for children of different ages, but also adults. If you like skating, there is a skating rink on the Main Square from December until February.
Food and accommodation
There are many bars and restaurants where you can try some of the local specialties, such as “cevapi” or “sarma”. Some of them, like Restaurant “Splav Krug”, is located by the river, where you can enjoy your favourite drink and fine cuisine by the water, served by friendly and kind staff.
If you decide to stay longer, there are many modern, comfortable and quite affordable apartments and hotels at your service. Some of them are located by the river or near the city center.
- Apartments and restaurant Posejdon
- Vila Bela Ruza
- Bed & Breakfast Kod Papiste
- Plaza La Hotel
- Hotel Wood
- Hotel Srem
- Hotel Sirmium
I’ve lived here for almost 30 years and I had a desire to go away, start over somewhere I’ve never been before. But I’ve seen other cities, in other countries and my only wish was to come back to my peaceful hometown. Long walks by the river, beautiful sunset over the water, my morning coffee in one of my favourite bars…There’s no other place I’d rather be but here…You will understand me after your first visit.