Cultural landscape of Bač and its surroundings

Date of Submission: 01/02/2019
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Serbia to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Autonomus Province of Vojvodina
Coordinates: E19 52 57 N45 23 31
Ref.: 6386
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Description

Cultural landscape of Bač and its surroundings belongs to Danube regions in Serbia (the Vojvodina Province) and it is situated on the borders of the Pannonia plain.

Cultural landscape of Bač and its surroundings is containing numerous cultural and natural sites and monuments, which witnesses at least 8 millennium long cohabitation of man and nature. This territory is characterized  by water flows (the Danube river and its left tributary, the Mostonga river, but also other, smaller water flows), wetlands and loess plains which could be drained and therefore have been suitable for life and agriculture ever since prehistory to modern days. The floodplain includes alluvial forests, marshes, reed beds, freshwater habitats, alluvial wetlands, as well as flood-protected forests.

Thus, this area has seen and preserved traces of all changes and reforms in the history agriculture.  Natural heritage is verified as Bačko Podunavlje Biosphere Reserve, which is inscribed in UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2017. It could be described as one of organically evolved landscapes - since it is continuously developed cultural landscape which, even in contemporary society, has maintained its role narrowly tied to traditional way of living that is transforming. At the same time, it has preserved significant material evidences of its development trough time.  

There are also archaeological sites, confirming the presence of man and the use of the marshy lands throughout the millennia. The preserved architectural heritage, built in the vast period from the 12th to the 19th century, under the influence of Western Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Barokue style, as well as Byzantine and Islamic art represents a definite testimony to the cultural diversity, interlacing and linking the cultures of the Balkans with the West and East. The combination of historical, cultural, artistic, and natural values gives this cultural landscape its significance.

Cultural landscape of Bač and its surroundings includes territorial parts of three municipalities – Bač, Bačka Palanka and Odžaci, covering the entire territory of 9 whole cadastral neighboring municipalities with 10 settlements with a population of around 25.000 inhabitants.

Landscape character assessment (identification and valorization) is becoming the activity of a public interest that brings a value to the territory which can significantly contribute in defining the sustainable development. The geomorphological processes in the Pannonian Plain and the fluvial system of  Danube River, and their influence on the cultivation processes of the territory and adaptability of the human settlements, the history of agricultural rationality and continuity of settling in the area are essentially the main subject of the “cultural landscape” interpretation.

Historical development 
It was the left bank of the Danube and its marshy lands and the Mostonga river banks which in the distant past provided refuge to numerous peoples (the Getae, Celts, Sarmatae, Lazyges, Romans, Huns, Slavs). The first mentioning of Bač was in a written document from 535. In the Middle Ages Bač becomes an important historic place, for the most period under the rule of Hungarian kings. Historical sources mention the place under the names: Bache, Baacs, Baach, Bács, Bach, Bath, Latin Bachia, Greek Παγάτζιον. It was an administrative and religious centre and a favourite resort to many a European ruler. A Muslim geographer, Al-Idrisi, marked Bač in his “The Book of Roger” in 1154. wrote, “Bač is a famous place, ranking among other major cities. There are markets, merchants’ and craftsmen’ shops, Greek scholars… However, the wheat is inexpensive, as there is plenty of it” … “Bač and Kovin are major export-import towns with dense population. These are the major Hungarian towns, with most of the buildings, and there one can live in plenitude on large farming estates.” The period of progress under king Bela IV (1235-1270) was cut short by the destructive forces of the Mongols in 1241, who damaged the fortifications and the churches, and some of the structures.

Soon after the Battle of Maritsa in 1371 and after the Ottomans moved their capital to Edirne, accepting a vassal status of Byzantium, it was obvious that the Ottomans would continue their advance towards the western Europe. In 1443, there was a massive war campaign of joined Hungarian and Serbian forces against the Turks. The campaign was led by King Vladislaus, John Hunyadi, and Despot George Brankovic, and the armies were gathering in southern Hungary. In the decades to follow, the Danube was once again an important waterway, as well as its ferries and border towns.

Bač played an important role in the defence of Western Europe against Otoma invasions, especially after the fall of the Serbian medieval state in 1459. The Bač spacious military camp was the place where armies of several different states gathered with one purpose: to stop the Ottoman Empire from penetrating into the heart of Europe. However, from 1526 to 1686 these lands fell under the Ottoman rule. Then, the Austrians came to rule the region, as they were victorious in the war for freedom.

The eighteenth century started with an uprising of the Kuruc against the imperial army, led by Francis Rákóczi between 1703-1711. Rakoczi led the rebelled Hungarians who wanted restoration of the legal system prior to the Ottoman rule. The population of Bač and its architectural heritage suffered long-lasting consequences of the uprising. In 1703 and 1704, the fortress was mined several times and rendered useless for any purpose. The Orthodox Monastery of Bodjani was demolished, as well as the Franciscan Monastery. The 1715 census recorded only 29 taxpayers but already in 1719, it was a bustling market town, gaining a right to four fairs a year In the 18th century, Austria colonised the population, which is even today reflected in the structure of the population. Such rich diversity can be perceived in the folk tangible and intangible heritage, still nurtured by numerous cultural and art societies in the region. Such rich diversity can be perceived in the folk tangible and intangible heritage, still nurtured In the 19th century the population n Bač grew from 2,260 (1803) to 4,504 (1890). by numerous cultural and art societies in the region.

Furthermore, hydro-technical and industrial structures were built. In 1866, the Bogojevo-Vajska community built a large embankment as a protection against frequent floods. The main pumping station in Plavna, as a structure of the largest capacity, wasopened in 1912, just before WWI. Trade, crafts, and agriculture grow, followed by the development of workers' colonies and the appropriate infrastructure. After the Great War, Bač became a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Šokci / Croats and Slovenians. In the 1920s, there were some great floods in 1924 and 1926, which destroyed much of built structures, causing the population to move out. The end of the Second World War started a new wave of colonisation, however not the Germans but the Serbs coming from the areas devastated in the war (mostly the frontiersmen from today's territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina). Bač retained its administrative significance as the seat of the local government. A considerable social and industrial development Bač experienced in the late 1950s and early 1960s was hindered when in 1965, once again, the Danube caused catastrophic floods. During the earthworks in the flooding area, the newly discovered archaeological sites located on the old, elevated Danube banks were damaged. However, owing to the excavations that ensued, new information about the continuous life in the region was unveiled. In addition, the focus now was on the river waters management that was expanded with the Danube-Tisa-Danube canal system, with a branch running through Bač. The flood defence system today includes the Pumping Station in Plavna, as a real example of living heritage still serving its purpose today. 

Monument Description
Among the rich and diverse built heritage that remains, three cultural properties have been and still are a key to understanding history and spirit of this cultural landscape: the Bač Fortress with surroundings, the Bodjani Orthodox Monastery and the Franciscan Monastery of Bač. They are cultural properties of outstanding value for the Republic of Serbia, also thay represent a symbol of the local identity – integrated in the Bač Municipality Logo.

The Bač 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 Bač 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 fortified castle was built in the 14th-16th centuries period. It is in a shape of an irregular pentagon with bastions at angles or corner towers connected with 2.5m thick brick ramparts. The towers vary in their shapes and dimensions. Three corner towers are circular and open towards the interior area, while the north-western one and the Gate Tower are of a rectangular shape. The east section was defended separately. There used to a free-standing donjon tower and a residential and a knights' palace, a well and a cistern, today preserved only as architectural and archaeological remains. Inside the walls and adjacent to them, there were structures of various purposes: military crew and servants' accommodations and ancillary structures for animals, storage space, food preparations, etc. The defence system consisted of fortification obstacles built like those in pre-Renaissance Italy and central Europe, where artillery had already been introduced in the fiery system of town communities (barbican with a gate tower, palisades, bastions, etc.) However, apart from the Italian renaissance influence, some shapes and key architectural elements have been preserved, carrying characteristics of late Gothic period and the spirit of mediaeval building. 

In the mid-18th century, the area of the erstwhile suburb was partitioned into 36 parcels, where houses and ancillary structures were built, with gardens at their backs. Most of the buildings today still preserve their original ground plan, but numerous interventions have diminished the traditional architectural values. However, the ambiance value of the whole, with its rows of houses along the Bač Fortress street that radiate the atmosphere of olden times, along with a view from the Donjon Tower top to the roofs as a fifth façade, create a unique impression of how the traditional and mediaeval architectures is interlaced.

The Bač Fortress, a symbol of the local identity, today is recognized as a carrier of multiple values. It has been protected and turned into visitor attraction and exhibition space which is the nucleus of the interpretation and valorization of wider cultural landscape of Bač Municipality. In situ archaeological exhibition within the Donjon Tower, among other exhibits, displays elements of exquisite craftsmanship, one of extremely rare evidences of pre-Ottoman renaissance in south Pannonia. Together with the Educational center that was built in the suburb, it has also become a center where professional knowledge about heritage conservation and management is gained, enhanced and shared, a place of culture and creativity, where local communities and visitors can interact.

Bodjani Orthodox Monastery is 15 km to the south of Bač, towards the Danube. The complex covers a church, from three sides surrounded by the residential quarters and the farming ancillary buildings to the north side. It is of a cruciform ground plan, with dome, 5.5 m in diameter, rising above the main nave and the transept cross. It belongs to the Rascia building style, linking it to the architecture of the Fruška Gora monasteries of Vrdnik, Kuveždin and Jazak. The original monastery was founded in 1478 and was linked to how Bogdan, a merchant from Dalmatia was healed, who then vowed to the Virgin to build a church as a token of his gratitude. The present church is dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was built in 1722 as the fourth one on the same place by Mihailo Temisvarlija from Szeged. The present quarters date from the 18th century. At first they were just a ground floor structure, surroundings the church from four sides, as shown on a Zachary Orpheline's etching dating from 1758. The present quarters were built after a fire, between 1786 and 1810. The sections at the north and south ends have a storey, while the one at the west end is a ground floor structure and to the north from the entrance to the quarters there is a winter chapel.  

The entire church interior is covered with fresco paintings (about 600 m2) painted by Hristofor Žefarović, a painter from Dojran (today’s Republic of Northern Macedonia). As a unique artistic opus of that time, the paintings combine the strict canons of the Late Byzantine art with 

Baroque, as a modern European style of that time – thus being a crucial point in the Serbian art and one of the most valuable complexes of fresco paintings in south-east Europe in the first half of the 18th century. Art historians states their view on the subject, "Far above his time, on the Bodjani walls, Hristifor Žefarović, determined the future guidelines with fortitude not only for the Serbian artists, but for the cultural paths as well, and with bold strokes of his brush almost three centuries ago, he made an unbreakable association with Europe. It was justified to say that in Bodjani, although everything in its place – nothing was as it had been– and the compositions, which had been unknown to the Orthodox Christian art before, seemed somehow familiar." The iconostasis screen is also an outstanding object of art, created in phases – in the 18th and the early 19th centuries – the work of Kyiv painters, Jov Vasiliyevič and Vasily Romanovič, as well as the Serbian masters, Vasilije Ostojić and monk Simeon Baltić. The Bodjani iconostasis is one of the first examples of the baroque painting influence in the region that by the late 17th century belonged to the Ottoman Empire. In this case, the baroque influences came indirectly, brought by the Ukrainian artists who had adopted the West European style, adapting it to the Orthodox painting heritage.

In the north section of the nave, there is also a Blessed Virgin's Throne with a miracle-working icon of the Virgin of Bodjani from 1684. The icon was considered a Protector of the monastery and the Bač diocese. The monastery library and the archives are highly significant as they hold some unique material with records dating from different time periods.

Franciscan Monastery of Bač is The monastery in the centre of Bač, integrated with its townscape and the mediaeval urban layout, with high walls and a massive bell tower, rising from the plain. The complex consists of a church and to the south three adjacent ground floor monastery wings that shape an cloister with a well in its centre. The church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, it is of an elongated ground plan of east – west direction, with a five-sided apse on the east side and a short side nave on the north side. On its south side, a corridor connects it with the residential quarters, creating a unified structure under one roof. The main church entrance is on the west side, but there are two more in the southern wall, as well, one more towards the main entrance and the other near the access to the altar.

The present look of the complex has been forming for seven centuries. As far as we know, it started to be built in the late 12th century, when the members of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem built a small one-nave Romanesque church, today preserved in its entirety. The church had massive walls with buttresses, tall gables and a much lower apse. In the second half of the 14th century, the Franciscans restored it in Gothic style, building the monastery and a bell tower along the altar, and in the 15th century the church was extended towards west. When Bač fell under the Turkish rule in 1526, the church was turned into a mosque – there is a mihrab niche in the southern wall, formed in the place of the original west entrance – until the year of the liberation in 1686. In 1688, according to the monastery chronicle, the Franciscans from the Bosnian provinces took over the monastery. Baroque renewal included the church and the monastery, when the characteristic square inner court was created between 1724 and 1770. In the south wing there is a spacious refectory, indicating that the brotherhood was once quite numerous. Thus, a complex architectural composition of the Bač Franciscan Monastery is weaved from Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Islamic, Baroque and Classicistic elements. The cultural stratigraphy expanded when in 2011 the remains of a fresco of the Crucifixion of Christ were discovered. The finding, along with the remains of the frescoes on the church southern wall and in the arch, enhanced the value of the cultural property as a work of art. Among the numerous paintings, there is an Italo-Cretan icon of the Virgin Eleousa, from 1684, work of master Dima and the Last Supper painting from 1737. Evidence of active life of this special place also lies in extensive treasures, a library with old and rare books liturgical vestments, handicrafts and object that used to be in everyday use (dishes for cooking and serving food, objects for cloth making, smithy tools, etc.)

Besides the already listed structures, Bač and its surroundings holds other historic buildings and cultural properties of great value.

Roman Catholic Chapel of St Anthony the Hermit is in the Guvnište woods, a part of the "Karađorđevo" hunting grounds. We do not know when it was built, but it is certainly a mediaeval building. We know that in 1733 it did not have the ceiling and roof. An inscription from 1817 on the tower tells us about its renewal. The chapel is a small one-nave building of harmonious proportions, with polygonal altar space in the east section, a sacristy along the north wall and a wooden and metal-sheet campanile in the west side. Façades are reinforced with five built buttresses of gradual heights, two placed diagonally at the east angles. Around the window opening there are signs of subsequent interventions that changed their original Romanesque form. Above the main entrance there are trifora windows on two levels, with the one in the gable shaped like the gothic ones. In the chapel interior there is a gallery made of oak donated by archbishop Kunszt József in 1864, where an organ is placed, also a donation.

St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church of Bač is in the centre of the town. Its main facade used to overlook an erstwhile square, today a city park.  It was built between 1773 and 1780 according to the architectural design made by Oswald Gaspar, a master builder of Czech origin. Later on, in 1838 it underwent a more extensive renewal. It is of harmonious proportions, built in the baroque style. It is a one-nave structure with a semicircular altar apse lower than the nave and in its north side a sacristy was built. The three short massive columns, decorated by pilasters with Ionian capitals, divide the interior into three bays. The interior gets light from two rows of windows. Façades are elegant in their simplicity, with an accentuated entrance section that is a mixture of Baroque and Classicistic shapes (high dado in the form of a base, doubled pilasters with Ionic capitals, triangular tympanum above the shallow central avant-corps) The side façades hold shallow decorations with pilaster strips and simple window mortar frames. The bell tower was built at the same time and is integrated in the west church façade. The tower top was changed after a fire in 1923.

Roman Catholic Convent of Nuns of the Notre Dame Order of Bač was built  in 1876 along the north wall of the St Paul’s church, and the north wing in the early 20th century. The construction was supervised by Ludovicus Haynald, an archbishop and later a cardinal. A representative portrait of him in his cardinal gown was painted in 1878 by Loschinger and is kept today in the monastery. The two storey building is of an elongated ground plan and is built in a Classicistic style. The west façade is divided into two areas by a string course and the second floor windows are shaped in the neo Romanesque style. Also on the second floor, there is a winter chapel with authentic furniture and wall decorations.

Remains of a Turkish Bath, Hammam are in the vicinity of the entrance to the Bač Fortress. They are a valuable testimony to 157 years of the Ottoman domination in Bačka. It was most probably built after the 1578 census, and Evli Çelebi mentioned it on his visit to Bač in 1665. It is a small, single bath hammam. In the front section there are remains of a rectangular warm room, kapaluk, where the visitors had a rest after the bath. The room led to other two for bathing, halvat. A left one, almost square in shape, had a dome above and was equipped for steam bathing, with an arched opening towards the back where water was heated. The right one with its niches served for regular bathing and had a barrel vault. At the back there was a small, a water tank, a scales and a water heating room, hazna, with a furnace in the middle. On the structure itself there are numerous information on how the bath functioned, from how the hot and cold water was distributed through clay pipes, to the ventilation ducts in the walls, the chimney ducts for smoke and the double floor, the hypocaust, with pillars, pilae stacks, covered with stone tiles, for the hot air to pass. The preserved architectural elements define the structure as it used to be. However, for the hammam to be properly presented, further investigations are necessary.

Serbian Orthodox Church of St Archistrategos Michael in Deronje is in the centre of the settlement. The church was built in 1869 and its most significant feature is the iconostasis that belonged to an older church. The iconostasis was wood carved in 1791 in the local rococo style. It was painted by Jovan Isailović senior in 1792 and an icon of a Virgin with Christ is attributed to him, as well, being a part of the Virgin's throne from 1785. The Jovan Isailović's paintings were influenced by the Teodor Kračun's art, and marks a  period in Serbian painting influenced classicistic master, educated in the Vienna Academy, working in the late 18th and early 19th century. Besides the iconostasis icons, the church holds frescoes and icons painted by Rafael Momčilović in the early 20th century, as well as a certain number of divine service books, both printed and handwritten, including a Register of the baptised and married in Bač.

Among the listed cultural heritage units, there are, for now, two archaeological sites:

The Donja Branjevina Site is in the Deronje village area, located in the place where an alluvial terrace meets the Danube marshes. It is of special interest due to its multiple values. The Early Neolithic material that was discovered testifies to an ancient land cultivating culture, among the oldest in the Balkans and Europe. The most valuable find is a figurine called the "Redhead Goddess", made of fired clay and is 38 cm tall. It was discovered in 1989. Eexaggerated hips, thighs and breasts, and a carved vulva, as well as hair dyed in red point to a symbol of fertility and motherhood, and the arms resting on her lower abdomen correspond to the iconography of the Mother Goddess. The find is not only a work of art but is also valued as a rarity, testifying to a spiritual aspect of a community of that period, of their belief in a relation between woman's fertility and that of earth and plant life. The "Redhead Goddess", associated with the Kerek culture, has yet to be properly evaluated in further investigations and presentation. But nonetheless, it urges to seek new answers associated with human existence.

The "Ciglana" Site (a brickyard) is on the "Petkovica" stretch, about 2 km east from the Plavna village, on the north side of the main embankment. This late Roman period settlement is severely damaged because of the clay exploitation in the brickyard. The preserved peripheral section on a slightly rounded ridge contains a cultural later of about 1 meter to 2.5 metres in depth.

Besides the cultural, Bač and its surroundings hold valuable and rare natural heritage.

"Karadjordjevo", a protected special nature reserve is an area of significance for the Danube River basin.  It is a well-preserved marshy complex consisting of two units: "Bukinski Rit" and "Mostonga", mostly covering the flooding Danube zone and its middle course through Serbia. This natural property features a diverse ecosystem, an autochthon marshy plants and and a diverse fauna with rare and endangered species (a white-tailed eagle, Haliaeetus albicilla, a black stork, Ciconia nigra and a black kite, Milvus migrans). It is an area of international significance for birds  (IBA – Important Bird Area) and a part of the European Amazone of outstanding universal value.

A boxwood tree, a natural monument in Plavna

"Bukinski Hrastik" Woods, a protected park holding autochthon swamp willow and poplar trees with a mosaic of woodland and marshes habitats to rare plant and animal species. 

"Vranjak" and "Guvnište" sites, that are parts of the reserve and hunting grounds. In the area of oak and acacia woods there are autochthon plant and animal species, particularly game like fallow deer, mouflon and whitetail deer. The area is also a habitat to rare birds, internationally significant.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Outstanding Universal Value of the Cultural landscape of Bač and its surroundings is an exeptional testimony of multilayered cultural and historical heritage dispersed across specific border territory on the left  bank of the Danube River. This area is developed at the crossroads of routes and it has seen many civilisations and people come and go, interactions of numerous cultures over 8 millenia, leaving socio-functional (ways of life, monastic communities, multiculturalism), structural and historical (the preservation of historic structures and remains), and visual-aesthetic (relationship with the setting and wider landscape) evidences of their existance.

It is territory where many civilizations left their tangible traces: archaeological structures, remains of fortifications, preserved religious complexes and churches from the Middle Ages and Baroque period. Bač and its surroundings have demonstrated its historical importance as a frontier region on numerous occasions, particularly in the context of defending the wider European region. By taking advantage of its surrounding villages and towns, farmland, forests and water systems, Bač developed a unique defense system where villages and towns were the basis of governance, fertile farmland provided sufficient food and materials, forests served as a barrier, and water systems through which materials were transported, connected it to other regions.

Having been a remarkable spiritual centre of tree religion in this part of Pannonian plain for a long period of time, the Cultural landscape of Bač and its surroundings bears unique testimony to the important role that it played over centuries in the interchanging and influences of Catholic with  Orthodox and Islamic art and religion.

Thus, this area has seen and preserved traces of all changes and reforms in the history agriculture.  It could be described as one of organically evolved landscapes - since it is continuously developed cultural landscape which, even in contemporary society, has maintained its role narrowly tied to traditional way of living that is transforming. At the same time, it has preserved significant material evidences of its development trough time.  

Criterion (ii): Cultural landscape of Bač and its surroundings is a specific border region on the Danube that has seen many civilisations and people come and go, interactions of numerous cultures over long periods of time. The historic urban landscape of Bač fortress at its center are a testimony of characteristic type of town planning and fortification, but which also testifies of different types of social, economic, cultural or religious influences that have given an impetus for hybrid forms of religious art:

  • The fortress is one of the best preserved fortified towns in Pannonian plain, testifying of many layers from neolithic times up to 18th century. It is a rare and well preserved example of the water fortification built by taking advantage of local rivers, lakes and marshy areas and making use of Mostonga river, which together with Danube river defines the whole area.
  • Outside the area of the fortress there are visible remains of Catholic, Islamic and Orthodox influences in religious and civic structures and art: with Turkish hammam being one of the best preserved traces of Ottoman Empire rule in Pannonian plain and north of Danube River.
  • Franciscan monastery is a well preserved testimony to evolution of religious catholic art over centuries in Pannonian plain as well as example of the interchange and influences of Catholic art with Orthodox and Islamic art and religion. This shows clearly interaction of different cultures and different styles of construction and religious art (and this stands for Bođani as well).
  • Bođani as a meeting point and pioneering attempt to bridge baroque and Byzantine tradition (this particular property could be taken as a prototype for a certain style in fresco painting in Southeast Europe), yet another testament of the interaction between different cultural and religious influences that led to creation of a new type of style in Ortodox baroque art that will soon become characteristic for Vojvodina province.

Criterion (iii): Bač and its surroundings have witnessed in centuries the exchange and fusion of multi-ethnic groups coexisting in harmony. This process was constant and evolutive in the history and nowadays still in progress, becoming characteristics and a vivid tradition of Bač. On one hand, the multi-culture formed by the collision and fusion of eastern and western cultures in the Balkan fringe area reflects the cultural inclusion and integration; on the other hand, it has not been completely replaced by the powerful alien cultures, and has retained the local characteristics, reflecting its cultural resilience.

Criterion (v): Region where Bač and its surroundings is situated is specific for being a border area over millennia, this resulting in movements and fluctuations of people, and in particularity of the area as multicultural and multireligious over many centuries. A dense network of archaeological sites in overlapping layers reflects migrations of people from Asia toward Central Europe as well as inner European migrations.This has led to interchange among diverse cultures on the Danube river bank Continuity of use as a terrain for habitation - dense network of archaeological sites in overlapping layers reflects migrations of people from Asia toward Central Europe as well as inner European migrations. Also, Continuity of traditional way of life and terrain use, all of which is easily understandable could be traced back thousands of years to prehistoric time. Yet, traditional agricultural activities - hunting, fishing, grain agriculture are still present and dominant in contemporary society of Bač and its surroundings. From his first prehistoric dwelling places, man has been continuously using this swampy terrain, which resulted in founding specific settlements. Bač was founded on an alluvial terrace surrounded with water, with a natural defence system. The Mostonga river creates a connection with the Danube, the main European waterway. Very early, its position and natural conditions made it possible to become a military, administrative, commercial and religious centre of a much larger region. The investigations conducted thus far have helped in better knowing and understanding the cultural diversity of this border Danube region and of the coexistence of communities between the East and West. As a part of Bačko Podunavlje, the characteristic natural resources, flora and fauna of the area have been recognised, valorised and protected both within national laws and inscribed in UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves – (MAB).

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Integrity

Cultural landscape of Bač and its surroundings is not only characterised by diversity but it has also maintained, in terms of both natural and cultural aspects, its landscape and cultural features, as well as its land-use forms, the several millenniums continuity of its agriculture and farming, and the rich characteristics of settlement architecture and structure related to land-use. The integrity of the property is based on geological, hydrological, geo-morphological, ecological as well as regional and intercultural historical characteristics.

Integrity related to criterion (ii):

  • Well preserved and in the process of restauration material remains - fortress and the layout of historic Bač; Franciscan monastery and Bodjani, as well as Turkish bath.
  • Both monastic communities in Franciscan monastery and Bodjani are still active and serve primary purpose
  • The current suburbium of the Fortress dates from 18th century and, despite changes that some of the buildings suffered through the course of time, it represents still inhabited historic urban tissue that preserved its traditional 18th century parcelization.
  • The wider area has not changed much because it has been underdeveloped, poor region for last few decades.

This all means that both the socio-functional (ways of life, monastic communities, multiculturalism), structural and historical (the preservation of historic structures and remains), and visual-aesthetic (relationship with the setting and wider landscape) integrity are present and ensured.

Integrity related to criterion (iii):

  • All sacral monuments preserved a mixture of styles from the East and West, including the influence of the Islamic art which made a rather unique cultural expression and influenced the local population.
  • Some of the buildings such as Franciscan Monastery of Bač or Bač Fortress have certain features unique to the territory and the community that created and shaped them over span of time.

Integrity related to criterion (v):

  • The region still relies of the agriculture and use of water, plain and forests and there is a continuity of the agricultural traditions.
  • The natural reserves and forests are well preserved and cared for.
  • The landscape remains underdeveloped and very little has changed and influenced it over time.
  • The comminuities of Bač and its surrounding villages still testify of its multicultural and multireligious character.

Authenticity

A complete and intact set of attributes conveys the Outstanding Universal Value of Cultural landscape of  Bač and its surroundings sincluding their forms and designs, materials and substance, and uses and functions. All conservation and restoration works have been carried out in the original materials and traditional techniques and in no way threaten the authenticity of the monuments. They are accompanied by detailed architectural, artistic, archaeological, and historical documentation that justifies their selection and assures their authenticity.

Comparison with other similar properties

Lot of traditional rural landscapes have a holistic and complex character that expresses a unique sense of place, and are the key component of the identity of people. Moreover, many traditional rural landscapes are exponents of sustainable land-use acquired over years of rural practice. Such rural landscape practices respect the natural characteristics of the land they occupy, maintain the biodiversity and also keep the rich cultural diversity.

Fertő/Neusiedlersee Cultural landscape (WHS 772 criteria II)  incorporates the westernmost steppe lake in Eurasia. This is an area of outstanding natural values and landscape diversity created and sustained by the encounter of different landscape types. It is situated in the cross-section of different geographical flora and fauna zones as well as wetlands, and is characterised by sub-Alpine mountains, sub-Mediterranean hills, alkaline lakes that dry out from time to time, saline soils, reeds, and shoreline plains. This area, a valuable biosphere reserve and gene bank, is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna and has been shaped harmoniously for eight millennia by different human groups and ethnically diverse populations. The present character of the landscape is the result of millennia-old land-use forms based on stock raising and viticulture to an extent not found in other European lake areas. This interaction is also manifested in the several-century-long continuity of its urban and architectural traditions and the diverse traditional uses of the land and the lake. The Fertö/Neusiedlersee Lake is surrounded by an inner ring of sixteen settlements and an outer ring of twenty other settlements.

Bam and its cultural landscape (WHS 1208 criteria II, III, IV, V) lies 1,060 metres above sea level in the centre of the valley dominated to the north by the Kafut Mountains and to the south by the Jebal-e Barez Mountains. This valley forms the wider cultural landscape of the Bam County. Beyond the mountains lies the vast Lut Desert of Central Iran. Water from the Jebal-e Barez Mountains supplies the seasonal Posht-e Rud River that skirts Bam City between Arg-e Bam and Qal’eh Doktar. The Chelekhoneh River and its tributaries gather water from the central parts of the Jebal-e Barez Mountain range. It now runs northeast, although it formerly flowed through the Bam City until it was diverted by a dam into a new course that met with the Posht-e Rud northwest of Bam City. Water from the Kafut Mountains also supplies the catchment area.

Upper Middle Rhine Valley (WHS 1066 criteria II, IV, V) The strategic location of the dramatic 65km stretch of the Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen, Rüdesheim und Koblenz as a transport artery and the prosperity that this engendered is reflected in its sixty small towns, the extensive terraced vineyards and the ruins of castles that once defended its trade. The river breaks through the Rhenish Slate Mountains, connecting the broad floodplain of the Oberrheingraben with the lowland basin of the Lower Rhine. The property extends from the Bingen Gate (Binger Pforte), where the River Rhine flows into the deeply gorged, canyon section of the Rhine Valley, through the 15km long Bacharach valley, with smaller V-shaped side valleys, to Oberwesel where the transition from soft clay-slates to hard sandstone, results. In a series of narrows, the most famous of which is the Loreley, no more than 130m wide (and at 20m the deepest section of the Middle Rhine), and then up to the Lahnstein Gate (Lahnsteiner Pforte), where the river widens again into the Neuwied Valley. The property also includes the adjoining middle and upper Rhine terraces (Upper Valley) which bear witness to the course taken by the river in ancient times.

Lannscape of Grand Pré (WHS 1066 criteria V, VI) The Grand Pré ‘marshland’ and the remains of the associated old villages constitute a cultural landscape bearing testimony to a remarkable effort, over many centuries, using the polder technique to develop agricultural farmland, in a maritime location with extreme tides. In particular, it demonstrates the permanency of its hydraulic drainage system using dykes and aboiteaux and its agricultural use through a community-based management system established by the Acadians and then taken over by the Planters and their modern successors. Grand Pré is also testimony to the history of the Acadians in the 17th and 18th centuries and their deportation.