Its construction began at the 1255th kilometre of the Danube’s course. It is first mentioned in 1694, just two years after the construction of the Petrovaradin Fortress began. Despite the fact that the city itself has a relatively short history, the area in which it was found has a very long and interesting past, encompassing numerous people and cultures. Here, where three rivers converge and meet – the Danube, the Tisa and the Sava – the cultures of East and West have come together, and so did different religions as Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Islam. As a result many ethnic and religious groups have made their home here and numerous people have settled or passed through the region – the Romans, Gepidaes, Huns, Avars, Slavs, Germans, Hungarians, Byzantines and Turks. The first fortress on the Petrovaradin rock was built by the Romans. This was later restored by the Hungarians and then taken over by the Turks. In the 17th century, after the expulsion of the Turks, the Austro-Hungarian rulers began constructing a bridgehead on the marshy, left bank of the Danube, across the river from the fortress. Around this fortification a settlement began to develop, populated by traders, craftsmen and soldiers. This settlement was first called Racko Selo (‘Serbian village’), later to be known as Petrovaradinski Šanac (a šanac is a castle moat). After the wars of the early 18th century, when the settlement began to see growth, its citizens sought and bought their liberty (at a cost of 80,000 forints) from Empress Maria Theresa, gaining the status of a free royal city, and called it Novi Sad. Therefore, Novi Sad has enjoyed city status since February 1, 1748.