Sremska Mitrovica (Serbian Cyrillic: Сремска Митровица, ; Croatian: Srijemska Mitrovica) is a city and municipality located in the Vojvodina province, Serbia, on the left bank of the Sava river. As of 2011 the town had a total population of 37,751, while Sremska Mitrovica administrative area had a population of 79,940. It is the administrative centre of the Srem District of Serbia.
Once a capital of the Roman Empire during the Tetrarchy, the city was referred to as the glorious mother of cities. Likewise, ten Roman Emperors were born in or near this city, Emperors Herennius Etruscus (251), Hostilian (251), Decius Traian (249-251), Claudius II (268-270), Quintillus (270), Aurelian (270-275), Probus (276-282), Maximianus Herculius (285-310), Constantius II (337-361) and Gratian (367-383).
Sremska Mitrovica is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Archaeologists have found a trace of organized human life dating from the 5000 BC onwards. Ionian jewellery dating to 500BC was excavated in the city. When the Romans conquered the city in the 1st century BC, Sirmium already was a settlement with a long tradition.
In the 1st century, Sirmium gained a status of a colony of the citizens of Rome, and became a very important military and strategic location in Pannonia province. The war expeditions of Roman emperors Traian, Marcus Aurelius, and Claudius II, were prepared in Sirmium.
In 103, Pannonia was split into two provinces: Upper Pannonia and Lower Pannonia, and Sirmium became the capital city of Lower Pannonia. In 296, Diocletian operated a new territorial division of Pannonia. Instead of previous two provinces, there were four new provinces established in former territory of original Pannonia: Pannonia Prima, Pannonia Valeria, Pannonia Savia and Pannonia Secunda. Capital city of Pannonia Secunda was Sirmium.
In 293, with the establishment of tetrarchy, the Roman Empire was split into four parts; Sirmium became one of the four capital cities of Roman Empire, the other three being Augusta Treverorum, Mediolanum, and Nicomedia (modern Trier, Milan and Izmit). During the tetrarchy, Sirmium was the capital of emperor Galerius. With the establishment of praetorian prefectures in 318, the capital of the prefecture of Illyricum was Sirmium.
At the end of the 4th century, Sirmium was brought under the sway of the Goths, and later, was again annexed to the Eastern Roman Empire. In 441, Sirmium was conquered by the Huns, and after this conquest, it remained for more than a century in the hands of various Barbarian tribes, such were Eastern Goths and Gepids. For a short time, Sirmium was the center of the Gepide State and the king Cunimund minted golden coins in it. After 567, Sirmium was again included into Eastern Roman Empire. The city was finally conquered and destroyed by Avars in 582. This event marked the end of the period of late Antiquity in the history of Sirmium.
11 luxurious golden belts of Avar handicraft dating to the 6th century was excavated in the vicinity.
After the Avar conquest
For more than two centuries the fate of Sirmium was unknown. At the end of the 8th century, Sirmium belonged to the Frankish State. The historical role of Sirmium increased again in the 9th century, when it was part of Bulgarian Empire. Pope Adrian II gave St. Methodius the title of Archbishop of Sirmium. After having adopted Christianity, the Bulgarians restored in Sirmium the Christian Episcopate, having in mind old Christian traditions and the reputation this city had in the ancient world.
In the 11th century, Sirmium was a residence of Sermon, a duke of Syrmia, who was a vassal of the Bulgarian/Macedonian emperor Samuil. After 1018, the city was again included into the Byzantine Empire, and since the end of the 11th century, Sirmium was a subject of a dispute between the Byzantine Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, until 1180 when the Byzantine Empire gave up Sirmium, surrendering it to the Kingdom of Hungary. In the 11th century, an Byzantine province named Theme of Sirmium had its capital in this city.
For a while, about 1451, the city was in possession of the Serbian despot Đurađ Branković. In 1521 the city came into Ottoman hands and it remained under the Ottoman rule for almost two centuries. According to Ottoman traveler Evliya Celebi, Mitrovica had been conquered by the Bosnian sanjak bey Husrev-bey. She was renamed as "Dimitrofça".
According to the 1545/1548 data, the city was mainly populated by ethnic Serbs, while the name of the mayor of the city was Dimitar. Since the middle of the 16th century, the city was mostly populated with Muslims. According to the 1566/69 data, the population of the city was composed of 592 Muslim and 30 Christian houses, while according to the 1572 data, it was composed of 598 Muslim and 18 Christian houses. According to the 1573 data, the city had 17 mosques and no Christian church. During the Ottoman rule, Sremska Mitrovica was the largest settlement in Syrmia, and was the administrative center of the Ottoman Sanjak of Syrmia.
With the establishment of the Habsburg administration in 1718, the Muslim population fled from the city and was replaced with Serbian, Croatian, and German settlers. According to the 1765 data, the population of the city numbered 809 people, of whom 514 were Serbs and 290 Catholics.
Sremska Mitrovica was part of the Habsburg Military Frontier (Slavonian Krajina). In 1848/1849, it was part of the Serbian Voivodship , a Serb autonomous region within Austrian Empire, but in 1849, it was returned under administration of the Military Frontier.
With the abolition of the Slavonian Military Frontier in 1881, Sremska Mitrovica was included into Syrmia County, which was part of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and Kingdom of Hungary within Austria-Hungary. According to the 1910 census, the population of the city numbered 12,909 people, of which 4,878 spoke Serbian language, 3,915 Croatian, and 2,341 German. The municipal area of the city (which did not included the city itself) had 32,012 inhabitants, of which 27,022 spoke Serbian, 2,324 German, and 1,071 Croatian.
After the First World War
In 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed and the Syrmia region first became a part of the newly formed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, and then, on November 24, 1918, the assembly of Syrmia in Ruma decided that most of Syrmia (including Mitrovica) join to the Kingdom of Serbia. Subsequently, on December 1, 1918, Kingdom of Serbia united with the Kingdom of Montenegro and the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed to Yugoslavia in 1929). Between 1918 and 1922, Sremska Mitrovica was part of the Syrmia County, between 1922 and 1929 part of the Syrmia Oblast, between 1929 and 1931 part of the Drina Banovina, and between 1931 and 1941 part of the Danube Banovina.
During World War II, the city was occupied by Axis troops and was attached to the Independent State of Croatia. During that time its name was changed to Hrvatska Mitrovica (meaning Croatian Mitrovica). One of the largest Nazi concentration/death camps in the Independent State of Croatia existed in Sremska Mitrovica and as many as 10,000 victims (Serbs, Jews, and antifascists) were killed here. The Serbian Jewish population was to be interned in a concentration camp built first in Jarak and then at Zasavica. However, both locations proved to be too flooded for construction. The Germans had to abandon these locations and use Sajmište, which resulted in the destruction of 83% of Serbian Jewry.
Beginning in 1944, the town was part of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina within the new Socialist Yugoslavia and, from 1945, within the Socialist Republic of Serbia. From 1992 to 2003 it was part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was then transformed into the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. Since the 2006 independence of Montenegro, Sremska Mitrovica is part of an independent Serbia.