Ovča (Serbian Cyrillic: Овча, Romanian: Ofcea) is a suburban settlement of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is located in the Belgrade's municipality of Palilula.
Ovča is located in the northern, Banat
section of the Palilula municipality (Pančevački Rit
), 13 kilometers north of downtown Belgrade. The settlement is located 6 kilometers to the east of the settlement of Padinska Skela
and the Zrenjaninski put
road which connects Belgrade with the town of Zrenjanin
, in Vojvodina
First recorded mention of the village of Ovči
is from 1456, as part of the Syrmia
county of the Kingdom of Hungary
. The name have a Slavic origin. As some of the first settlers were Vlach
) shepherds, it is believed that this gave name to the settlement (Serbian word ovčar
means "shepherd" in English). The village was captured by the Ottoman Empire
in 1537, and was included into the Sanjak of Smederevo
. It was granted a waqf
status by the sanjak-bey
Mehmet-pasha, for the mosque
(public kitchen) of Belgrade's Dorćol
In the mid 18th century the village was evacuated because of the plague outbreak and Ovča sentry outpost was built instead. Turned into a wasteland, the village was repopulated in 1813.
Ovča was part of the municipality of Borča until May 30, 1952 when it got its own municipality. However in 1955 all the municipalities in Pančevački Rit were merged into one, municipality of Krnjača which in turn became part of the municipality of Palilula in 1965. A movement for restoring former municipality of Krnjača (under the name of Dunavski Venac) is gaining momentum since the early 2000s.
Population is generally stagnating. The apparent decline of population by almost one quarter in the 1970s is a result of change of the administrative borders of the settlements as many outer farms and smaller sub-settlements were grouped in Padinska Skela, which in turn grew by this administrative measures by over 400% (in 1971 it had less inhabitants than Ovča by one third, in 1981 it outnumbered it four times).
Population of Ovča:
- 1921: 1,469
- 1932: 1.452 (1.400 Romanians, 23 Serbs, 20 Germans, 7 Slovaks and 2 Hungarians)
- 1971: 3,383
- 1981: 2,530
- 1991: 2,306
- 2002: 2,567
Ethnic structure (Census 2002): Serbs (63.96% or 1,642), Romanians (27.46%), Roma (1.36%), Yugoslavs (0.85%), Macedonians (0.62%), etc.
Despite being classified as an urban settlement, the majority of economic activity in Ovča is still agricultural. Prominent features are the large bowl natural gas
tanks which dominate the flat landscape and hydrothermal spring
of Ovčanska banja
). The spa is not arranged for public usage but is very popular among the local population. A pond with an area of 150 square meters and one meter deep has been filled by the natural salt water since the mid 1980s. Ovča is also accessible by train as it lies on the Belgrade-Pančevo