CHECK OUT VRPOLJE FUN FACTS, BLASTS FROM THE PAST, THINGS I HAVE LEARNED AND I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU
IVAN MESTROVIC MEMORIAL GALLERY
People of Vrpolje had a great desire to significantly mark Vrpolje as the birthplace of the great Meštrović since 1936. The first attempt in that direction was the founding of the Cultural and Art Association “Ivan Meštrović” on March 3, 1957. The goal of the founders was to build a place, a memorial building, a museum where his work would be kept and celebrated. From the very beginning, the society was in contact with Ivan Meštrović who lived in the USA at that time. The great artist showed considerable interest and the following year he gave them a plaster cast, “Mother’s Care / Mother and Child” (Vienna 1905). Later, this work will be cast in bronze and erected in 1968 as the first public monument in Vrpolje.
Due to the death of Ivan Meštrović in 1962 and the lack of financial resources, the Association closed down in the first half of the 1960s, and the construction of the gallery was postponed.
Enthusiastic people from Vrpolje did not give up on their idea, the Cultural Society “Ivan Meštrović” was re-founded in 1967.
The memorial gallery finally started to build on his birthday on August 15. In 1969, right next to the parish church where Meštrović was baptized. The construction of this gallery is another beautiful story of togetherness and harmonious hands. It was financed by Yugoslavia than and municipal funds for culture with the help of local companies and, most importantly, the people of Vrpolje themselves. The second wife of the late artist, Olga followed their efforts with great interest, approval and sympathy.
The memorial gallery in Vrpolje was officially opened on June 3, 1972.
Initially, it operated with a permanent display of 20 borrowed plaster sculptures. In the period between 1974 and 1989, thanks to the approval of Meštrović’s heirs, especially his wife and daughter Marija and the funds available to the gallery, 17 bronze sculptures were cast and one work was bought to create their own collection of his works.
The memorial gallery in its permanent exhibition today has 35 of Meštrović’s works, 21 of which are in its ownership.
PARISH CHURCH OF THE BIRTH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST IN VRPOLJE
It is the church where Ivan Meštrović was baptized. It is a baroque church from the 18th century where several of Meštrović’s works are kept today. One relief is above the baptistery and the other on the right side of the altar. The Statue of St. John the Baptist, whose casting was approved by the widow Olga Meštrović, is located behind the altar. Construction of the Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist began in 1772 and lasted for two years. Before her, there was a wooden church built some forty years before.
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
Vrpolje originated as a settlement on a property that Duke Koloman donated to the Bosnian bishops. The first census was made after the end of the Ottoman Empire’s rule in this area, at the very end of the 17th century. At that time, eight families with houses and land and two tenants lived in Vrpolje. An event marked with a memorial plaque took place in 1817 when Emperor Francis I and his wife Caroline visited this area. They stayed in Vrpolje, and the emperor, seeing how bad the roads were, ordered the construction of a brick road from Brod to Osijek. A memorial plaque is located on the front of the parish court. During the industrialization in the 19th century, steam mills were built in Slavonia, so a steam-powered mill “Rosa” was built in Vrpolje. It was owned by Leopold Weiss with a capacity of two wagons per day.
Speaking of history, it was interesting to find out about the HISTORY OF ROCK MUSIC. In Vrpolje in the seventies of the last century, more precisely from 1969 (the year of the famous Woodstock) to the early ’80s, a GUITAR FESTIVAL of young, as yet unrealized rock bands was held, which was attended by bands from the former state, Yugoslavia. It was one of the most important guitar festivals, it lasted two or three days and it had the true characteristics of youthful multi-day events where people sleep and in public areas.
INDUSTRIAL RAILWAY HERITAGE STORY
With the development of industry, there was a need for the development of the railway, ie the construction of railways. At that time, the main word in Croatia was “Southern Railways” from Austria and the Hungarian Royal Railways. Everyone drew interests to their side and Slavonian landowners, even the Bishop of Đakovo J.J. Strossmayer tried to fit Slavonia into plans to build railways. At that time, Slavonia tried to network and connect with the Adriatic Sea, but also with the Ottoman Empire near Brod on the Sava. Ivan Meštrović’s father also worked on the construction of the Vrpolje – Šamac railway during his short stay in Vrpolje.