We are in the town of Beočin, on the slopes of Fruška Gora mountain, where rests a peculiar building, in ruins and long forgotten. Locally known as Spitzer Castle, the mansion was built in the late 19th century by Eduard Ede Spitzer, co-owner of the Beočin cement factory. The building is one of the rare examples of the eclectic architecture in Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina.
Spitzer hired the famous architect Imre Steindl, best known for his work on the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest, to design and engineer the mansion and the architectural styles of the so-called castle include elements of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Romanesque art. The interior is an example of a classical Hungarian Art Nouveau, including the interesting Zsolnay ceramics fireplace in the mansion’s main hall. Moreover, at the time it was built, the castle was surrounded by a large park.
It was in 1889 when the Spitzer family moved into the castle, and lived there until World War II. They left Beočin around 1941 and moved to Germany.
After the war, the castle was nationalized and ownership was given to the state. At various points in time it hosted a school, library, the first Beočin radio station, a cultural center, a home for the disabled and even a restaurant. All the while, the building was slowly deteriorating, and It was used as film set for numerous movies, including the 1970 American war film Kelly’s Heroes, which starred Clint Eastwood, but also lesser-know works like “Breakfast with the Devil”, “Der Junge mit der Geige” and “Black Cat, White Cat”.
Today, the castle is deserted, surrounded by wires, without doors or windows and a crumbling rooftop that could collapse at any moment, as the sign out front says. The state of this dilapidated beauty is best described by the name the local population has given it: a ghost house.
It was considered a cultural monument in the 1990s, but today, because of its condition, it cannot be entered without a permit from the municipal authorities. Despite the state of the mansion today, many of its elements have been preserved, especially the façades, interior decorations, the bathroom on the floor, as well as the colorful stained glass on the windows. The old castle also has one spacious terrace, with a view on the overgrown plants and numerous decorations in shape of human figures and dragons in the park, and it now lives only in the minds of rare visitors who come here sometimes travelling by hat and a pocket watch!