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Meet Osijek

ROMANTIC AND COZY GETAWAY ON THE DRAVA RIVER

Not because it’s my hometown, but it’s a really beautiful city. It still exudes the charm of the most romantic period of human history, for me, the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
I spent my childhood and teenage years here and despite not living in it half my life, I am accompanied by the feeling that I never completely abandoned it. Whenever I can, and that’s a few times a year, I always come back with equal joy. Family, friends and long walks through the streets of Osijek is something that binds me to this city and does not let go for more than twenty years. For me, Osijek is the most beautiful, not entirely because it is my hometown, but also because of Secession and Baroque buildings, several kilometres long promenade along the Drava river, parks, green streets and especially the people of Osijek with a sharp sense of humour of what every British would be proud of 🙂
Osijek is charming and pleasant, it is not ruled by noise, stressful vibes and annoying crowds.

It is the largest city in eastern Croatia (Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem), and the fourth largest in Croatia. Osijek is part of the European Danube region and a river port for cruising located approximately 20 km from the confluence of the Drava and Danube rivers. It is surrounded by three neighbouring countries, Hungary 50 km to the north, Serbia 35 km to the east and Bosnia 100 km to the south. The Drava River has the status of an international waterway from Osijek to its mouth.

LOCATION: The city of Osijek is placed in the north-east Croatia by the Drava river in the region called SLAVONIA.

MY EXPERIENCES – WHAT I VISITED, DID AND TASTED IN OSIJEK

 

Guided sightseeing
Craft beer and wine tasting
The city theatre and museums
The cable ferry ride
Swimming at ``Copacabana`` recreation centre
Walk on the city promenade & European Avenue
Co-Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul
Osijek restaurants
Events: Pannonian Challenge, Little October fest and WineOs

“The main square”

“An example of Hungarian secession in Osijek”

CHECK OUT OSIJEK FUN FACTS, BLASTS FROM THE PAST, THINGS I HAVE LEARNED AND I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU

ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE: SECESSION AND BAROQUE

The Sakuntala Park

Two styles of architectural heritage that stand out in Osijek are SECESSION and BAROQUE. When it comes to Secession, in Osijek we can see beautiful examples of Vienna (Austrian) and Pest (Hungarian) Secession. The most popular examples are found on European Avenue. It is a series of 7 buildings built in the early 20th century. Near them is another Secession pearl, the Urania cinema. Stjepan Radić Street also hides several ‘beauties’ such as the Maksimović building from 1826 and Villa Batory from 1906. However, Osijek hides more surprises for all fans of this style. As for the baroque, it is most representative in the old part of the city – the Tvrđa.

TVRĐA – Baroque city-fortress in Osijek, was built on the remains of the Ottoman sort of fortress in the first half of the 18th century. The construction itself lasted with occasional interruptions for several decades and was completed during the command of General Johann Stephen Baron von Beckers. The beautiful central square is surrounded by buildings that had military and administrative purposes such as the Magistrate, the General Command, the Main Guard and the City Hall. On the square, itself stands out the baroque statue of St. Trinity and two wells, and in the neighbouring streets two baroque churches, the Franciscan Church of the Assumption of the Holy Cross and the Jesuit, the Parish Church of St. Mihovil. The restored and rearranged parts of the Fortress are the Water Gate and Vatroslav Lisinski Square. For me personally, a special experience was a walk along the walls of the Bastion. Numerous rooms in the Fortress were occupied by Osijek associations, artists and cultural figures. A touch of mystery is given to this part of the city by catacombs, underground corridors and tunnels. As the Fortress is actually a city within a city, a lot of stories could be told about it, and I have covered the most basic for this purpose.

GARDEN AND PARK ARCHITECTURE – is part of the identity of the city with a tradition of more than three centuries. Compering to size, Osijek is the city with the most parks in Croatia. In the first half of the 20th century, it gets its present appearance when a multitude of parks, gardens and orchards sprang up. My favourite parks are King Držislav Park, King Petar Krešimir IV Park, King Tomislav Park and the most lovely Sakuntala Park.

OSIJEK PROMENADE AND PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE

The most photographed shots, next to Osijek’s main square and co-cathedral, is certainly the view of the promenade, the pedestrian bridge and the Secession Well. The Osijek promenade along the Drava River is quite long, 5.5 km on the right and 4.5 km on the left, it contains a bicycle path and a running path and is decorated with street planters. Promenades on both sides of the river are connected by two bridges, a pedestrian and a traffic one. Near the city centre, there are three of the four Osijek bridges. The most photogenic is the pedestrian, Mladost suspension bridge built in 1980. Along the promenade, and near the bridge, there is a well from 1903. The well was a gift from Count Pavle Pejačević and at that time was located in the City Garden Park, which no longer exists.

CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS

THEATERS – The first theatre play in Osijek was performed back in 1735 in Latin. And the Croatian National Theater in Osijek was founded in 1907 in a building designed specifically for theatrical purposes, it was built in 1886 for travelling theatre companies. The building is characterized by elements of Historicism and Moorish architecture. It is built in the tradition of Austrian and Italian theatres, has three floors and a U-shape. The Branko Mihanović Children’s Theater is located in the Lower Town, on today’s Ban Josip Jelačić Square. The children’s theatre has been operating at the site since 1958 and is housed in a former Casino building from the second half of the 19th century.

The Museum of Slavonia

MUSEUMS – The two main museums in Osijek are located on the same square, St. Trinity in the Fortress. The Museum of Slavonia was founded in 1877 as the Museum of the Free and Royal City of Osijek. From II. World War II it was placed in the building of the first City Hall that was built in 1702, while the Archaeological Museum is in the Main Guard building.

The region’s Museum of Fine Arts is located on Europe Avenue, a 19th-century Neo-Renaissance villa.

CINEMATOGRAPHS – here I will list two old cinemas because the various “cine” versions located in shopping malls have nothing to do with the city. That is, they have nothing to do with the city’s soul. KINO URANIA is a Secession masterpiece by the Osijek architect Viktor Axmann, in which the first cinematographic play was shown on September 19, 1912. The cinema building was built in just six months, and Axmann himself was awarded for this architectural project of his at the First International Cinema Exhibition in Vienna. An intriguing story about Freemasons and Osijek’s Masonic Lodge “Budnost” is connected with the “Urania” cinema. “Urania” cinema is the only old cinema where movies are still shown. EUROPA CINEMA started operating in the 1940s. Specifically, the Fleissig brothers opened this cinema in 1939, and the first screening was shown on August 14, 1940. The building is the work of Osijek architect Ljudevit Pelzer and is the most beautiful example of Osijek Modern architecture. Throughout history, cinema has had several names: “Promenade”, “Red Star” and “Europe”. Today it is a hall where cultural and musical programs are held.

HISTORY NEWS

PANNONIANS, CELTS AND ROMAN CITY MURSA – Native tribe of Pannonians were conquered by Celts in 4th century BCE, and their community was named Scordisci with the dominance of Celtic culture. Their settlement was placed in today’s city borough Lower Town, i.e. Donji grad. Unfortunately, most of this settlement was destroyed due to the later building of Roman settlement and Lower Town of Osijek in the 17th century. You can learn more about it in the Museum of Slavonia and Archeological Museum.

SULEIMAN BRIDGE AND OTTOMAN OSIJEK, THE 8TH WORLD WONDER OF THAT TIME – Osijek fell under the Ottoman rule in 1526 which was also a year when the first construction of the famous Suleiman bridge began by the orders of Suleiman the Magnificent. It was reconstructed several times afterwards as Suleiman ordered destroying the bridge after his troops passed as a symbol of planing not to retreat. The final, fourth version of the bridge was built in 1566 on the Suleiman’s way to Viena. It was 8 km long wooden bridge built from Osijek across the Drava river and the swamp in Baranja, to Darda in only 8 days. It the time of Ottoman rule, Osijek was one of the significant markets in the Ottoman Empire.

SLAVONIANS, SPORT AND RECREATION? OH YEAH!

If you didn’t know, and most probably you didn’t, the first sports association in Croatia was founded in Osijek in 1784. Today, Osijek has approximately 200 various sports clubs and associations. Except for organized sports, Osijek gave its soul for cycling and walking or running. Along the Promenade there is a bicycle-racing trail, and on the opposite side of the river Drava, there is also a trim trail and the “Copacabana” recreation centre with four pools and a river beach. Also, the city is interwoven with almost fifty bike paths. Personally, I like to walk the most, and my favourite route is from the Lower City part of the town all the way to the main square in the Upper City.

THE FIRST TRAM IN CROATIA

This data mainly speaks of how economically and culturally developed Osijek used to be. The first horse-drawn tram began operating on September 10, 1884, at a time when Osijek had about 18,000 inhabitants. It connected two parts of the city, ie the squares of the main squares in the Upper Town and the Lower Town. The tram at the time had 16 seats, drove approximately 7 to 8 kilometres per hour, and the horses that pulled it took turns every two hours. My granny went to school by such tram, and during the winter the snow would be so high that they had to get out to push it and help the horse to move on. The first electric tram started running in 1926. Today, the Osijek public transport GPP d.o.o. takes care of one of those old trams, the tram no. 8 from 1928.

ESSEKER DIALECT AND OSIJEK SLENG
The Esseker dialect appeared in the 17th century after the mass immigration of Austrians and Germans in Osijek. It was used in a regular speech during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a combination of the German language with traces of Hungarian and even Turkish words. I always had to think twice when I asked my mom about the time, and she answered me: three ‘frtaljs’ five (in translation it is 4.45). While my mother spoke Esseker dialect in the house, I grew up in the age of generations who spoke Osijek slang. The Esseker dialect was mainly used in regular speech until the Second World War, and Osijek slang, full of improvisations and metaphors, began to develop some time after the war.

GRANDFATHER OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II WAS BORN IN OSIJEK
Franz Paul Karl Ludwig Alexander von Teck was the father of Queen Mary and the great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. He was born on August 28, 1837 in Osijek (then Osijek was called Esseg). The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Osijek on March 15, 2016.

THE OLDEST BEER PRODUCTION IN CROATIA
The first breweries appeared in Osijek in the 17th century, thanks to the population that at that time immigrated to the area of ​​the city, primarily the Germans. The first documented evidence of beer production in Osijek is related to Mr. Bauer who brewed beer in 1664. The biggest beer lovers and consumers were soldiers stationed at the Tvrđa (Fortress). “The first Slavonian steam brewery and ice factory” was founded in 1856 by Caetano Šeper, who honed his brewing skills in the Czech Republic and Austria.

 

“The Holy Trinity Square”

“The Bastion with Water Tower”

Things left to do next time: – Until this moment, I have two big wishes that I have not fulfilled yet: a panoramic flight by plane and a carriage ride

OSIJEK IN A NUTSHELL

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Food and Drink Osijek's gastronomy was shaped on the benefits of rivers, forests and native fields, as well as different cultures that have been united into one gastronomic identity for centuries. Traditional restaurants offer local classic game dishes, river fish, meat and cured meats. In addition, there are restaurants that offer modern dishes, classic international, pizzas, burgers, pasta and of course pastry shops because Slavonians, ie Slavonian women are known for their cakes. Osijek is surrounded by numerous vineyards, only in Osijek-Baranja county, there are four. As a city where beer brewing has a long tradition, you can enjoy a rich offer of domestic and foreign craft beers.
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Excursions In the city itself, you can go on a city tour or one of the thematic tours related to history or gastronomy. Personally, I had a few ideas that I still think are great, and some I would gladly go through myself, such as a graffiti workshop. You can also tour the city by bike or go to the Kopački rit Nature Park in Baranja for canoeing or horseback riding. Baranja is also a place to enjoy food and snacks are enjoyed. In addition, Osijek is an excellent base for going to other cities in Slavonia, Baranja and Syrmia.
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Sights Sacral buildings such as the co-cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, the Chapel of Sorrows, the Capuchin Monastery and the Church of St. Jacob, the church The Most Holy Name of Mary, the Chapel of St. Roch, the Orthodox Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin… The Cemetery of St. Anne from the 18th century has the mark of the Association of Significant Cemeteries of Europe. The cable ferry Kompa, the most ecological means of transport in Osijek, and is used to transport passengers to the other side of the Drava River. It sails thanks to the river current. The mill, a replica of one of the many mills, water-powered mills, which operated in Osijek from the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century. Sculptures and statues such as Šetač (THE FIRST STREET SCULPTURE IN CROATIA), the Citizens' Group, Crveni fiće, the statue of Baroness Pauline Hermann, better known as Mačkamame, Picasso, Franjo Krežma and others. Zoo, the largest zoo in Croatia. Markets where you can experience the lively soul of Slavonia and Baranja.
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Accommodation Osijek hotels are mostly 3 * and 4 * stars and are mostly located in the city centre and Tvrđa. In addition to hotels, of course, you can also choose accommodation in themed or modern guesthouses, hostels or apartments. For lovers of nature and the traditional way of life, the surrounding villages and the whole of Baranja region hide several pleasant surprises.

GREETINGS FROM OSIJEK

Photo is emotion captured in time. See and feel the world you look at.

SURROUNDINGS OF THE CITY. SLAVONIA, BARANJA AND SYRMIA.

ONE DAY TRIPS FROM OSIJEK

If you are at all curious like me, one day will not be enough for you at any of these locations, but… you need to start somewhere so I suggest that these suggestions be more of a guide for reconnaissance and planning future visits.

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Wine Tasting in Baranja

BARANJA is located north of Osijek, on the opposite side of the Drava. Kopački rit Nature Park, traditional villages and their restaurants, family farms, wine tastings, the only town in Baranja Beli Manastir, the monument in Batina are the most concise list of reasons why you should go to Baranja.

VUKOVAR – ILOK and maybe you still manage to push VINKOVCE or ZUPANJA into one day. The combination of thousands of years old stories with gastronomy and wine is the shortest possible description that could describe this part of Slavonia and Srijem. Between visits to museums, be sure to include a walk along the Danube, enjoying traditional dishes and local wine.

Đakovo Cathedral

SLAVONSKI BROD and ĐAKOVO are south of Osijek. In Đakovo you can visit the beautiful cathedral and the Lipizzaner stud farm dating from 1506. On the way to Slavonski Brod, in Vrpolje, there is a Memorial Gallery of the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović. You can find out more about her here. In Slavonski Brod, I suggest a visit to the Fortress, the largest of its kind in Croatia, the world’s first open-air tambourine museum, and a Franciscan church with a monastery. I was interested in houses and sculptures related to Ivana Brlić Mažuranić, our most famous children’s writer.

POŽEGA is located in the hilliest part of flat Slavonia. This area is also known for its wines, but also for its beautiful nature. Apart from the Nature Park and the Papuk Geopark, the surroundings of Požega are surrounded by picnic areas and other towns rich in cultural heritage such as Kutjevo, Pakrac and Lipik.

VIROVITICA and its area also abound in the beauties and attractions of natural and cultural heritage. You can enjoy them when visiting the Jankovac mountain lodge, the Dravska priča information centre or the Višnjica wasteland. Apart from Virovitica, there are also Slatina, Orahovica and Pitomača.

It was very difficult for me to squeeze the surroundings of Osijek into one paragraph 🙂

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