What do you see in this building?

This wasn’t a planned stop – just something I spotted along the way. But I couldn’t resist taking some shots of this abandoned building in Serbia.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

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Abandoned church, Beocin, Serbia

I know, I know. I promised to bring you detailed and in-depth stories about my discoveries in Serbia. Well, I’m sorry, I’m already resorting to pretty pictures.

I couldn’t help myself, though. On the second full day of my time in the country I caught a bus from the city of Novi Sad out to a small town called Beocin.

There’s nothing special about the place – it is, like many small towns, just a remnant of a time when not all culture was urban culture. The residents who remain are workers of the land or commuting slaves to the nearby city.

Either way, Beocin shows signs of being a slight shell of its former self. My plan was to explore Fruska Gora National Park and the monasteries there but one of the highlights was discovering the ruins of this old church.

Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia

It was not a planned sight and there was no sign out front telling me what it was. A community that cannot maintain its landmarks cannot justify an explanation.

But, in that mystery, I found an element of exploration and intrigue. It reminded me of my recent adventure into Nara Dreamland.

There was no fence to climb over – in fact, the driveway seemed eerily inviting. So I gave myself permission to walk inside and capture the moment.

No facade existed and the building was open to the elements and observers. But, inside, there was a sense of isolation.

A barrier was created as I stepped over the threshold and I was alone in the structure with no concern for what was back beyond it.

Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia

It must have once been a grand building. I actually wonder now, looking back on it, whether it really was a church.

It was certainly something of religious significance but it’s not of the design of the traditional Orthodox structures of Serbia.

Maybe it was more of a community place of gathering, perhaps a residence for the pious, or perhaps just architecturally-inspired by the divine.

It didn’t really matter to me and I, in some way, like that I didn’t know. In my mind’s eye I created a scene that fitted my interpretation.

Like a telepath, I used my imagination to bring in the missing parts of the building – I had them flying through the air and reattaching to the foundations.

Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia
Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia

People appeared in my vision, walking through the inception-ed front door and meeting others already there.

The buzz of the insects was replaced with chatter of people who existed before disrepair was the best option. The sun shone through the stained glass windows and lit up their lives.

Let me know what you can see. Here are some photos of the scene, taken in just two dimensions. Think with more, though. Not just three – maybe four.

What once was in this shell of the Serbian town of Beocin?

Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia
Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia
Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia
Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia
Abandoned house, Spitzer family house, Beočin, Serbia

22 thoughts on “What do you see in this building?”

  1. That’s really neat. Abandoned buildings are the best. It’s getting more and more difficult to really discover something no one else seems to have found, but it’s nice to see that it certainly does still happen.

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  2. Maybe it’s been a Catholic church and since there was no Catholic minority anymore (after the 90s war in the Balkans) it got abandoned? As you wrote, it doesn’t look really Orthodox. I see some baroque ornaments in the pictures. Perhaps…

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    • There are a lot of Catholics in Vojvodina, making up around 20% of the population : ) (and an absolute majority – more than 50% – in some parts of the region).
      There are working (Catholic) churches everywhere, the schools close for Catholic, not Orthodox holidays, etc.

      And as someone mentioned in the comments, this was a Spitzer family castle (architect: Imre Steindl), not a church.
      The style is not Baroque (unless metaphorically, as baroque), but Secession, most famous for its Viennese incarnation and popular all over the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the turn of the century (19th-20th; even the late Baroque came to its end a good century and a half before).

      Reply
  3. It looks like it was once beautiful. Though not surprising it is abandoned with the financial troubles in Serbia. I’m sure there is no money to maintain or restore such a building.

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  4. Sad that it’s been abandoned and is in rough shape, but it’s definitely interesting to explore places like that. Gives you a different perspective, instead of always seeing the shiny touristy attractions.

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  5. It’s not a church, it’s a Spitzer family residence. They used to own the local cement factory before the WWII. Just google for spitzer castle.

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    • Correct. Not a church but residence, telepathy not withstanding. Also used as a filming location for “Kelly’s Heros”. It served as Carroll O’Connor’s (“Archie Bunker”) field headquarters in that movie.

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      • Oh really?! That’s interesting. I thought it was in the middle of nowhere (I guess it is) but now you tell me it’s been used for filming locations! I don’t feel quite as special anymore… 🙂

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    • Thanks, Renata. I’m so pleased people have been able to let us all know what it really is. It looks so much like a church, though. It must have been so grand when people were living there!

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  6. Some further info about the building:
    It was commissioned by the industrialist Ede Spitzer to be built in close vicinity of Beočin’s cement factory he owned. As Beočin was part of Austro-Hungarian monarchy at the time, Spitzer had the projects made by one of the most significant Hungarian architects Imre Steindl, who also designed the Parliament House in Budapest. The Spitzer castle itself has been built around 1899, as carved in a stone above the backyard door. The Spitzer family lived there until WWII, when they either fled Beočin or were forced out by the partisans, never to return again. The building was then turned into a hotel, which ran until the 1980s when it was finally abandoned. Several movies have been shot there, including the 1970 war film ‘Kelly’s Heroes’ with Clint Eastwood and Emir Kusturica’s 1998 film ‘White Cat Black Cat’.
    There is an interesting, albeit creepy, legend surrounding the castle. It is said that during the reconstruction of the fireplace after WWII a parchment had been found, with a testimony from one of the original builders about a sculptor named Nador who made the facade figures for the castle. The testimony said that Nador was an easterner who never spoke a word, had seven fingers on each hand and had a strong animosity towards birds, even killing one with his bare hands. Once Nador finished his work on the dragon statue on the main facade (still visible today), he backed up to see his completed work but was attacked by birds that covered him with excrement and thus killed him. Although the said parchment wasn’t saved and probably never really existed at all, the story is still well known by the people around here.

    Reply
  7. I came across this website and loved what you are sharing. I love reading and seeing pictures of historical places and I would love to get future postings to my facebook page. I do have an email, but I spend much more time on facebook. If you can share your postings on facebook would you share it to mine? I look forward to seeing more of your website on my facebook page soon. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Message from a local – the Spitzer family were of German-Jewish origin so they were forced to abandon their magnificent manor house, never to return again. They have fled from Beočin (Беочин in Serbian, Belcsény in Hungarian, Beotschin in German) just before the begining of the Second World War and, sadly, their fate is still shrouded in mistery.

    Reply
  9. Hi Michael,
    I know this article is from some time ago, but I was wondering if you have any knowledge about in which state this building currently is? Would it still be there if I travel there the end of this month?

    Reply

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