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Court House
Zrenjanin (Serbian Cyrillic: Зрењанин, Hungarian: Nagybecskerek, German: Großbetschkerek, Romanian: Becicherecu Mare) is a city and a municipality located in Serbiamarker. It is situated in the northern Serbianmarker province of Vojvodinamarker. It is the administrative centre of the Central Banat District of Serbia. In 2002, the city's population was 79,773, while the Zrenjanin municipality had 132,051 inhabitants.

Zrenjanin is the largest City in the Serbian Banat, the third largest city in the Vojvodina province (after Novi Sadmarker and Suboticamarker) and the sixth largest city in Serbiamarker.


Zrenjanin got its present name in 1946 in honour of the revolutionary hero Žarko Zrenjanin Uča (1902-1942). Žarko Zrenjanin was a leader of the Vojvodina Communists and wartime Partisans who during the World War II endured torture and months of incarceration by the Nazis, was released and later killed while trying to escape recapture.

Old Serbian name for the city was Bečkerek (Бечкерек) or Veliki Bečkerek (Велики Бечкерек). In Hungarian, the city is known as Nagybecskerek, in German as Großbetschkerek or Betschkerek, in Romanian as Becicherecul Mare or Zrenianin, in Slovak as Zreňanin, in Rusin as Зрењанин, in Croatian as Zrenjanin, and in Turkish as Beştelek (meaning five melons) or Beçkerek.

It is assumed that Zrenjanin's original name, Bečkerek/Becskerek, comes from Hungarian word kerek ("forest, grove") and the surname of the 14th century nobleman, Imre Becsei, who had large estates in the area. Therefore the name would be translated into English as "Becsei's Forest". The original name gained a modificated meaning "great/big/major" in the languages of the Banat (Serbian: Veliki or Велики, Danube Swabian: Groß, Hungarian: Nagy, Romanian: Mare), as opposed to a village of the same name in the Romanian Banat, that is usually referred to as small Bečkerekmarker (cf. Serbian: Mali Bečkerek or Мали Бечкерек, Danube Swabian: Kleinbetschkerek, Romanian: Becicherecu Mic, Hungarian: Kisbecskerek).

In 1935 the city was renamed to Petrovgrad in honour of king Peter I of Yugoslavia.


A Neolithic Tizsapolgar-Bodrogkerezstur culture necropolis was found in Crna Bara, near Zrenjanin.

The town of (Veliki) Bečkerek / (Nagy) Becskerek was first settled in the 14th century, the first mention of it dates from 1326. The merchant town on the Begej river became a property of the Serbian prince Stefan Lazarević in the 14th century. The town was ruled by the Kingdom of Hungary until 1551 when it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman army that conquered Bečkerek was led by Mehmed-paša Sokolović, an Ottoman statesman of Serb origin, hence the local Serbs from Bečkerek helped him to conquer the town. After the town fell, Mehmed-paša met with the leaders of local Serbs, and nominated beg Malković for administrator of Bečkerek. As a gratitude to Serbs for their help, Mehmed-paša later (in 1570) turned the town into his vakuf (foundation), built there many beautiful buildings, and granted local autonomy to it. During the Ottoman rule, the town of Bečkerek was divided into two parts (mahalas) - one Serb and another Muslim and was sanjak centre in Province of Temeşvar.

In 1716, Bečkerek was conquered by the Habsburg Monarchy and it developed significantly by Maria Theresia's order of 1769. According to the 1753 data, the town was mostly populated by Serbs and Germans. According to the 1773 data, the population of the town numbered 721 houses, of which 625 were Orthodox Christian, and 96 Roman Catholic.

In 1779, Bečkerek became a seat of Torontal county. It was occupied by Ottoman troops between 1788-1789 during Ottoman-Habsburg war.

Since great fire destroyed almost whole town in 1807, county seat was temporarly moved to Nagyszentmiklósmarker, until new county building was finished in 1820.

Bečkerek got a theatre hall in 1839 and a gymnasium in 1846, as well as a City Hall in 1820 and the Palace of Justice in 1908.

During the Revolution of 1848-1849, the town was one of de facto capitals of Serbian Vojvodina, a Serbian autonomous region within Habsburg Empire. Between 1849 and 1860, it was part of a separate Austrian crownland known as the Vojvodina of Serbia and Tamiš Banat. After the abolishment of this province, the town was included into Torontal County, and was the administrative center of this county. After 1867, Bečkerek was located within the Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary.The end of the 19th century, the town was mostly populated by Hungarian and Germans.

Small bridge, Reformation church and Court House
According to the 1910 census, the city had 26,006 inhabitants, of which 9,148 most frequently spoke Hungarian language, 8,934 Serbian language, 6,811 German language, 456 Slovak language, and 339 Romanian language. The municipal area of the city had 54,715 inhabitants, of which 16,485 most frequently spoke German language, 14,445 Serbian language, 10,581 Romanian language, 8,573 Hungarian language, and 3,265 Slovak language. It is not certain whether Hungarians or Serbs were largest ethnic group in the city in this time, since 1910 census is considered partially inaccurate by most historians because this census did not recorded the population by ethnic origin or mother tongue, but by the "most frequently spoken language", thus the census results overstated the number of Hungarian speakers, since this was official language at the time and many non-Hungarian native speakers stated that they most frequently speak Hungarian language in everyday communication. The city was also home to 1,232 Jews, of whom many were native Hungarian speakers. Another problem is that the city and its municipal area were administered separatelly, thus the total population of the city and its municipal area counted together was 80,721 people, of whom 23,379 most frequently spoke Serbian language, 23,296 German language, 17,721 Hungarian language, 10,920 Romanian language, and 3,721 Slovak language.

After World War I, the city became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker (later renamed to Yugoslavia). In 1921, the population of the city included 39% Serbs and Croats, 28% Germans, 27% Hungarians, and 6% Romanians. Between 1918 and 1922, it was a centre of a county within the Kingdom, between 1922 and 1929, it was part of the Belgrade oblast, and between 1929 and 1941 part of the Danube Banovina.

Between 1941 and 1944, it was under Axis occupation, and was part of the autonomous Banat within Germanmarker-occupied Serbiamarker. Beginning in 1945, Zrenjanin was part of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodinamarker within the new Socialist Yugoslaviamarker, and from 1992 to 2003 it was part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker, which was then transformed into the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. Since the 2006 independence of Montenegromarker, Zrenjanin has been part of an independent Serbiamarker.

On 1 April 2009, the D.S. Mayor was charged with abuse of office. The Special Prosecution stated that the Zrenjanin municipal budget suffered damages to the tune of EUR 1.6mn, as a result. [36474]

Inhabited places

Map of Zrenjanin municipality
Zrenjanin municipality includes the city of Zrenjanin and the following villages:

City quarters

Demographics (2002 census)

Ethnic groups in the municipality

The population of the Zrenjanin municipality is composed of:

Settlements by ethnic majority

Settlements with Serb ethnic majority are: Zrenjanin, Banatski Despotovac, Botoš, Elemir, Ečka, Klek, Knićanin, Lazarevo, Lukićevo, Melenci, Orlovat, Perlez, Stajićevo, Taraš, Tomaševac, Farkaždin, and Čenta. Settlements with Hungarian ethnic majority are: Lukino Selo and Mihajlovo. Settlement with Romanian ethnic majority is Jankov Most. Ethnically mixed settlements are: Aradac (with relative Serb majority) and Belo Blato (with relative Slovak majority).

Ethnic groups in the town

The population of the Zrenjanin town is composed of:
  • Serbs = 56,560 (70.9%)
  • Hungarians = 11,605 (14.55%)
  • Yugoslavs = 1,948 (2.44%)
  • Roma = 1,577 (1.98%)
  • others.


According to the 2002 census, most of the inhabitants of the Zrenjanin municipality are Orthodox Christians (77.28%). Other religions include Roman Catholic (12.01%), Protestant (2.13%), and other. Orthodox Christians in Zrenjanin belong to the Eparchy of Banat of the Serbian Orthodox Church with seat in Vršacmarker. Zrenjanin is also the centre of the Roman Catholic diocese of the Banat region belonging to Serbia.

Main sights

Main facade of the National museum building


Zrenjanin has many places of interest like City Hall, the Cathedral, Freedom Square, King Aleksandar I Street, etc.

Hotel "Vojvodina" is situated on Liberty Square (**** category). There is a Tourist Information Office in the building of National Museum (Subotićeva 1).


Zrenjanin has a long sports tradition. First clubs were established during 1880s.

Zrenjanin was the home town of Proleter football club from 1947 until 2005. Today, FK Banat plays it's games at Karađorđev Park Stadiummarker in Serbian Premier League.


Taxi station in Petrovgrad (today Zrenjanin) in 1938, nearby Cathedral
Zrenjanin has a public transport which consists of buses. Autobanat operates as a public transport company and between nearby cities (Novi Sadmarker, Belgrademarker, Kikindamarker, Vršacmarker).Transport has a long tradition in Zrenjanin. In the past river traffic on the Begej river used to be most developed sort of goods transport.Veliki Bečkerek got railway in 1883, when it had been connected to Velika Kikindamarker.There are many taxi operators in Zrenjanin. Main taxi station is located just across "Vojvodina" hotel.

Notable citizens

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Zrenjanin is twinned with:


  • Zrenjanin has the oldest operating post office in Serbiamarker - it was founded in 1737.
  • During World War II, it is possible that Zrenjanin was bombed by Allies mistakenly, since pilot may have thought that it was Timişoaramarker (both cities lie on the Begej river).
  • Zrenjanin is often called "Town of the bridges" - it has 10 bridges.

See also


  • Milan Tutorov, Banatska rapsodija - istorika Zrenjanina i Banata, Novi Sad, 2001.

External links


  2. Joe Penner biography (in Hungarian)

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