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European Heritage Days 2023: Serbia Celebrates its ‘Heroine of Heritage’

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As part of this year’s European Heritage Days celebration, Europa Nostra Serbia and the European Union Delegation in Serbia have established the Annual Europa Nostra Serbia Award, titled “Heroes of Heritage”, to honour individuals who have made significant contributions in the realm of heritage.

This year, the title of “Heroine of Heritage” has been awarded to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Victoria Aladžić, an architect from Subotica, in recognition of her tireless efforts and dedication towards preserving Serbia’s architectural legacy. Dr. Aladžić has gained particular acclaim, both nationally and internationally, for her expertise on the Art Nouveau movement in Subotica, a topic she has extensively researched, written about, and advocated for its preservation.

Viktorija Aladžić

Since 2000, Dr. Aladžić has passionately championed the restoration of Subotica’s Synagogue. Spearheaded by her efforts, the Foundation SOS Synagogue was established, within which plans for the restoration of this architectural gem were formulated. She also prepared a successful application for the inclusion of the Subotica Synagogue in the Europa Nostra “Seven Most Endangered” programme in 2014. Moreover, she was pivotal in the Europa Nostra Serbia project “Heritage Under the Microscope”, which focussed on the research, education, and restoration of the Subotica Synagogue during 2015-2016. The EU generously financed the synagogue’s renovation with a grant of €100,000.

Emanuele Žiofre

In 2013, Dr. Aladžić initiated and prepared the application for the city of Subotica to join the Réseau Art Nouveau Network, subsequently becoming the chair of the Council for the Protection and Valorisation of Subotica’s Cultural Heritage, which oversees membership in the Network. Through her engagement with the network, she has promoted the Art Nouveau heritage across Serbia. The 2023 “Heroes of Heritage” award will be formally presented to Dr. Aladžić at a special ceremony in December.

Emanuele Ziofre, the EU Ambassador to Serbia, highlighted the significant role Serbian cultural heritage plays in enriching Europe’s collective cultural diversity. Mr. Ziofre emphasised his pride in the “Heroes of Heritage” award and praised the EU’s support in preserving various significant Serbian cultural landmarks.

dr Irina Subotić

Prof. Dr. Irina Subotić, Chair of the jury and President of Europa Nostra Serbia, lauded Dr. Aladžić for her decades-long dedication to Subotica’s heritage. Actress Anita Mančić stressed the importance of recognising and preserving one’s heritage and identity.

This year’s European Heritage Days, held from 9th to 17th September, revolved around the theme “Living Heritage”, championing social cohesion, respect for diversity, and aiding communities in fostering resilient and inclusive societies.

Anita Mančić

The jury for this year’s event comprised of eminent figures, including Prof. Dr. Irina Subotić, actress Anita Mančić, Vesna Marjanović, General Secretary of Europa Nostra Serbia, and last year’s awardee, Stanka Čoban.

Initiated by the Council of Europe in France in 1985, the European Heritage Days, since 1999, operates as a joint initiative between the European Commission and the Council of Europe. It offers citizens the chance to explore culture through thematic events, uncovering the histories of people and sites that have shaped Europe’s culture and heritage.

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