#citybreak Srijem and Slavonia
This is not just a short break from everyday life, charging your batteries or getting to know new places. A city break in the Vukovar-Srijem County is an entirely new experience and an unusual encounter for all those familiar with journeys in typical urban environments. In the East of Croatia, the borders between the urban and rural disappear, there is an alternation of images of magnificent nature, vast fields, gentle plains, unique architectural wholes, powerful rivers and wine-growing hills.
In all the nuances of gold, a new world is presenting itself before you, selflessly offering you all that it has – a relaxed lifestyle, widely known hospitality, a supreme gourmet story, wines praised by even the most demanding critics, ambient architecture, museums, castles…
Nowhere like in the East of Croatia will you enjoy the attractive manifestations, varied folklore, ‘tambura’ music and rich urban scene. The best Croatian comics were created here as well as the best rock ballads and hip-hop hits, the Danube embankment being the most beautiful film and theatre festival stage.
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The tame and fertile Slavonian plain, networked by river flows, has attracted many cultures since time immemorial. One of the most significant ones, the Vučedol culture, left a deep trace, so that today the Vučedol dove and boot, beside the Water Tower from 1968, are the most recognisable symbols of Vukovar.
In the 13th century Vukovar got the free royal town title confirmed by the King Coloman Charter, in the 18th century the Eltz counts established their manor there and Maria Theresa declared it the centre of the Srijem County in 1745.
At the end of the last century, it was totally destroyed in the Homeland War but it arose even more beautiful and dignified. Its life has been marked by the Vuka and the Danube, their embankments being the most beautiful Srijem and Slavonia promenades and a favourite meeting place for the inhabitants of Vukovar.
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If you start out from the Franciscan monastery and Church of St. Filip and Jacob beside the Vukovar gymnasium and descend to the promenade along the beautiful Danube, you will discover the baroque centre of Vukovar and its protected historic unit. You will pass beside the stagecoach mail buildings, the Magistrate and the former Grand Hotel, the most famous part of the monumental historic architecture from the end of the 19th century, called also the Workers’ Home. A little further, there is the unique Eltz Castle housing the Town Museum, while across the street there is the Srijem Palace from the 18th century, today’s centre of the Vukovar-Srijem County.
- The Vukovar Town Museum in the Eltz Castle houses numerous collections, among which there is the Bauer collection with the most comprehensive cross-section of the contemporary Croatian art from the end of the 19th and early 20th century. It is the winner of the European Silletto Prize for the best European museum.
- The Vučedol Culture Museum is located at the most significant Neolithic locality, devoted to only one pre-historic culture that had a strong impact on 13 European countries.
- The baroque centre is a unique architectural whole and a recognisable view of Vukovar.
- The Vukovar nocturne is a thematic route unifying all the town’s memorial places devoted to the Homeland War: the Place of Memory Vukovar Hospital 1991, Ovčara Memorial House and the Mass grave, Memorial Cemetery of the Homeland War Victims, the Central Cross where Vuka ends in the Danube and the Memorial Homeland War Centre in the Vukovar barracks.
- The Adica Park Forest will thrill nature lovers and active vacation enthusiasts. It can be reached also by a small tourist train. In order to have a special experience of the Danube, Vukovar and its sights, the panoramic boat would be an excellent choice.
It is said that the secret of a delicious carp on fork is the red pepper without which the Slavonian cuisine cannot be imagined. This specialty, prepared on an open flame, will be offered to you by almost all Vukovar restaurants of which there are approximately twenty in the town.
Visit the birth house of the chemist Lavoslav Ružička. Meet the first Croatian Nobel laureate and an honorary citizen of Vukovar himself by means of a hologram. Take the waterbus to sail on the Danube and refresh yourself on the Vukovar river island in the summer months.
- ‘Svi ZaJedno Hrvatsko naj‘ Festival in May
- Vukovar Film Festival in August
The Orion was found here – the first Indo-European calendar! Two Roman emperors were born here, brother emperors Valentinian and Valens, and two early Christian saints, Eusebie and Polion, lived here as well. The double moulds for the casting of an axe were discovered here, the ceramic stove, the Slavic cremation graves from the seventh century, as well as remnants of the somewhat later ‘Bijelo Brdo’ Culture with the mediaeval settlement; special baroque style of the military frontier type remains from the period after the Ottoman Empire.
Welcome to Vinkovci, the oldest settlement in Europe in which people have been living for eight thousand years. Behind the seemingly peaceful Slavonian town, a creative urban scene is hiding today with a long tradition in the comics culture and popular rock bands.
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Start from the most beautiful baroque monument in Vinkovci, the Vinkovci Town Museum, in which, by means of a hologram, you can get to know baron Josip Šokčević. Visit also his birth house and feel the atmosphere of the old Krnjaš, one of the rare remaining typical Šokac streets. From Krnjaš to the centre, walk along the most beautiful Dionizije Švagelj promenade on Bosut.
Do not miss a walk on the Korzo, the strict centre of the town and enjoy in the surroundings of the historic buildings from the 18th century – the Gymnasium, the secession style Brod Municipality building and the house of doctor Georgijević, nowadays housing the Tourist Board.
Walk in the Great Park, Prkos and the Street of Jurja Dalmatinac – the popular “fairy street” in which the rich inhabitants of Vinkovci of Jewish origin used to live.
- The Vinkovci Town Museum keeps invaluable collections of the oldest European settlement. There you will also find out about the meaning of Orion, the first Indo-European calendar.
- The Church of St. Eusebie and Polion, in the park in the centre of the town is the largest church in Vinkovci, while another seven churches speak of its rich sacral heritage.
- The archaeological park and the Sopot excursion site with six Sopot houses is connected to the centre by a 3 km long pedestrian and cycling route.
- Birds – unique sculptures on the embankment of the Bosut, are a gift of Dina Merhav, a world-renowned artist who used to live in the ‘fairy street’ in Vinkovci.
- The Kunjevci forest is an attractive excursion site and a hunting tourism destination. It can be reached by the yellow, red and blue cycling route starting from the bridge over the Bosut. When you come to Kunjevci, leave your bicycles and riding in eco-mobiles look for the deer.
That an oilcake is very delicious will be confirmed to you by anyone who once tasted it. Gourmets simply adore it and even the strongest of characters bow before its scent. Only in Vinkovci can you taste the dishes of the old Cibalians (inhabitants of the ancient Vinkovci) from the times of the Roman Empire excellently completed by the Valnes craft beer. It got its name after one of the two Roman emperors from Vinkovci, of course, the one who was better known after his nick-name ‘beer skin’.
Attracted by the irresistible scent of coffee, feel the rhythm of the modern Vinkovci in one of the numerous cafes on Korzo covered in the motives of Orion. You will enjoy the ritual of drinking this hot beverage in a unique baroque and secession ambient. You cannot imagine a better setting for rest and relaxation in a town on whose territory life has been taking place for eight thousand years.
- Roman days in May
- Autumn in Vinkovci in September
Since back in the 3rd century the Roman emperor Probus discovered the fertile slopes of the Fruška Gora Mountain and planted vines, wine has become an integral part of life of the people of Ilok. In 17th century, the Odescalchi noble family offered the first bottled wines in Europe in their cellars, while in the 19th century the English court got to love them. How much the British appreciate the wines of Ilok is revealed also by the fact that traminac from Ilok was drank at the coronation of Queen Elisabeth II some sixty years ago, and nowadays it is drank in the most festive of occasions, too.
Located between the powerful Danube and the hills of the Srijem vineyards, this eno-gastronomic destination is one of the most picturesque towns in this part of Europe. This flattering title was confirmed also by Michelin, recommending the Hotel Dunav Restaurant in Ilok.
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A visit to the protected cultural and historic complex cannot be missed. Its centre preserves a fort from the 14th and 15th centuries – then the seat of Nikola of Ilok, governor of Croatia and King of Bosnia. There is also the church and sanctuary of Saint John of Capestrano, rare Ottoman monuments – ‘turbe’ and ‘hamam’ from the times of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Odescalchi castle, the old wine cellar, while on the Southern side of the fort there is a park simply inviting for a walk.
After that, take the Danube promenade and enjoy the beauty of the river. Coffee on the Danube – an invaluable experience!
- The church, monastery and the sanctuary of Saint John of Capestrano are attractive monuments and testimonies of centuries of relations between the East and the West. Get to know the life of the saint and his contemporary, Nikola of Ilok, through a hologram presentation in the Brnjaković manor house.
- In the Odescalchi castle, there is the Museum of the Town of Ilok with a modern exhibition on three floors.
- The old wine cellar from the 15th century is one of the largest and oldest in this part of Europe, today owned by the Ilok cellars, the most awarded Croatian winery. With another fifteen top wineries, it makes the attractive Ilok wine road offering the best wines.
- Ilok and the Danube! One cannot be without the other. A walk along the embankment or a boat ride are the best way to feel the river.
- Principovac with its country estate is the most beautiful winegrowing position, which you can visit by a small tourist train. You will enjoy the beauty of the vineyard the best with a glass of the supreme Traminac, sparkling wine or Ilok brandy.
In the rich offer of the Ilok specialties, should you opt for fish stew without bones, you will not make a mistake. It is prepared there with a lot of love and lots of red peppers giving it its recognisable aroma due to which it has become one of the synonyms of the gastronomic offer of Srijem and Slavonia.
Greet the sun where it enters Croatia – by yourself or in company, but by no means without the best Croatian Traminac. A unique experience J
- Vinkovo in Ilok in January
- Grape harvesting in Ilok in September
Did you know that it was Županja where football and tennis were played in Croatia for the first time? Nine Englishmen, who in 1880 decided to build a tannin factory in Županja, have the merit for this town’s sports tradition. One of them, Fredy Hepburn, married Katarina Horvatović, who has thus become the first Šokac lady, much loved even in the high English society.
If you have already visited Vukovar and Vinkovci, Županja will provide you with an entirely different experience and reveal an ambient of a unique rural architecture. Here you will find out about ‘ušoravanje’, meaning connecting of smaller surrounding villages into a unique whole. The history of the Županja border from the times of the Ottoman Empire has left a deep trace on the town, while the rivers Sava and the Slavonian forests are woven into the life of its inhabitants. The border watchtower is the most beautiful historic testimony and the only remaining military frontier monument on the Sava.
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Walk on the embankment of Sava, a favourite town promenade, leading from the sugar factory to the border watchtower, nowadays housing the Stjepan Gruber Native Museum, and further to the excursion site of Poloji, one of the most beautiful Slavonian river bathing places with a sandy beach, sports facilities and children’s playgrounds. The promenade on the Sava is an excellent choice also for an active vacation, bike ride or jogging. Incorrigible romantics will not miss a walk along the river in the evening hours, while passionate anglers will use every free moment expecting the catch of their life.
- The border watchtower from the 19th century, the only preserved piece of the military frontier architecture in Croatia, houses the Stjepan Gruber Native Museum, which got its name after a geography professor.
- The monument to the first football ball in Croatia in the centre of the town is a recognisable symbol of Županja.
- The golden thread road offers forgotten customs, the traditional eno-gastronomic offer, best handicrafts and socialising with hospitable family farm landlords, and it connects Županja and the surrounding places: Štitar, Babina Greda, Kruševica, Cerna, Šiškovci, Gradište, Bošnjaci, Drenovci and Vrbanja.
- The ‘Veliki kraj’ gallery is located in a traditional Šokac house in the centre of the town.
- The excursion site ‘Županjski virovi’ will thrill nature lovers, while the Hunters’ cabin will delight gourmets and lovers of hunting and fishing.
Irresistible goose stew will first seduce you with its scent while it slowly simmers on an open fire. This traditional dish from Županja was mostly prepared at the time of the harvest from domestic geese that could be found in any yard.
Taste something completely new. Take riding lessons in the equestrian centre ‘Županjski kas’, so you can even go horseback riding along the Sava. An experience to remember J
- ‘Šokačko sijelo’ event in February
- Harvesting and threshing in the past in July
Even though life on the territory of Srijem and Nijemci started back in the Stone Age, first records of the place date back to the first century and the time of the Roman Empire. In 6th century, the Romans were replaced by the Avars, the Croats arrived in the 8th century, while as of the 15th century until the intrusion of the Turks, Nijemci were in the possession of the Zápolya noble family who even produced a Hungarian-Croatian king.
In 16th century, the place was conquered by Suleiman the Magnificent, and a little over a century and a half of Ottoman rule brought economic and demographic progress and the place got a mosque and a hamam. Not only this – it became the centre of the Catholic Church in Srijem.
The Turks left, centuries passed, generals, cultures and customs changed…, and the plain remained just as beautiful.
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Birdwatchers say that in Nijemci one can see more bird species in an hour than in all the other places in several days. Even if you are not a passionate lover of this relaxing hobby, walk to the Sopotac excursion site with the Birdwatching centre. From the centre of the place, it can be reached on a five kilometre long tourist thematic path ‘Let’s go to Srijem’ with informative panels and rest stops with smart benches. There are attractive terrains for an active vacation, watchtowers surrounded by shepherd’s homes (salaš) and the relaxing Bosut. You can simply let yourself go and enjoy the Srijem plains as far as your eyes can see.
- The arboretum in the centre of the place reveals what a traditional Srijem garden looks like.
- The Luka Natali Native Museum in the Pastoral centre got its name after the Belgrade bishop and apostolic vicar of the lands under the Turkish occupation.
- The St. Catherine catamaran navigating on the calm Bosut and the mystic Spačva offers a most beautiful river adventure.
- A solar-powered canoe or boat is an ideal choice for active vacation lovers who wish to enjoy the Srijem rivers from a new perspective.
- The Srijem cycling route passes through the place and the Sopotac excursion site, while on the territory of Nijemci, there are three more trails meandering through the most beautiful of landscapes.
To come to Srijem and not taste ‘kulen’ or ‘kulenova seka’, bacon or sausages, almost equals sin. In the homely spirit, each dish wills start with a small glass of aromatic plum brandy (šljivovica).
Experience an authentic connection with the nature in the quiet of the Spačva forest, one of the largest entirely common oak forests in Europe. By boat, bicycle or on foot – it does not matter. You will enjoy it.
- Carnival horseback riding in February
- ‘Divan je kićeni Srijem’ in June
OTOK (‘Island’ in Croatian)
One does not know if the place got its name after the frequent floods of the Sava and Bosut or because, just like an island, it is located amidst forests. However, one knows that Otok through history shared the destiny of the neighbouring towns and places. It changed its inhabitants and rulers - Romans, Gepids, Goths, Langobards, Avars, Slavs, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Francs, Ottomans and others. The Croats arrived on the territory of the town at the end of the 5th century and managed to withstand all the political turmoil and contemporary wars.
It is only 20 km away from Vinkovci, Vukovar or Županja so that, should you find yourself in any of the three Slavonian towns, there is your opportunity to visit Otok.
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Walk form the old Suvara mill to the centre of the town in which there is a monument to the Croatian airmen, fallen in the Homeland War.
Cohabitation with nature provides Otok with casualness and serenity that you will seldom feel in any other place. A visit to the Otok Virovi simply cannot be missed! The intact common oak forest and the preserved banks of the Virovi stream are an endless source of inspiration and a perfect escape from the stressful everyday life.
There you will reveal a rich bird life, and if you wish to get to know it a little better, climb to the bird observation post on the education trail.
- Suvara nowadays is a rarity in the world and a monument of the greatest cultural value, the only preserved object of such kind in South-Eastern Europe. For those who do not know it, this is a horse-powered mill. Out of eight Otok ‘suvaras’, only this one from the 19th century remains, known also as Tomašević or Klarina ‘suvara’.
- Virovi are a part of the ecological Natura 2000 network of the European Union member states. Of almost two kilometres in length and sixty meters in width, they encompass a part of the same-named stream. This unique oasis, rich in autochthonous bird and fish species, thanks to groundwater never dried up.
- ‘Lože’ are a special forest vegetation reserve. Hidden in the Spačva basin, they expand on a surface of one hundred hectares. Here you will find the most imposing samples of common oak of which some are even more than 40 meters high.
- The ‘Čistine’ pasture is the most famous natural carp spawning ground on the territory of Croatia. During the spring rains, it is flooded by the water from ‘Virovi’. On it, along the edge of the Spačva basin, there grows the several centuries old ‘Orijaš’ oak, the most beautiful natural monument witnessing of the connection between Otok and the forest.
- In the Josip Bašić Collection of cultural, historic and ethnographic objects with more than 700 exhibits, you can see traditional clothing, objects used in a rural household, sacral objects and tools typical for old and forgotten crafts.
That Otok is known for ‘kulen’ from the autochthonous black pig is confirmed by ‘Otočka kulenijada’ (Otok kulen festival) and ‘Sajam kulena’ (Kulen fair), a spring eno-gastronomic manifestation. The tradition of making kulen is very long, which is witnessed in the 19th century records of Josip Lovretić, a well-known ethnographer and priest from Otok.
Would you like to see how grains used to be threshed? The members of the Otok equestrian association will present this traditional way of producing flour just like it used to be done.
- ‘Otočka kulenijada’ and ‘Sajam kulena’ in May
- ‘Zlatne grive’ (Golden manes) equestrian manifestation in May
Have you not discovered some of the most beautiful stories in entirely unexpected places? The East of Croatia is full of such surprises. Travelling in the towns of Srijem and Slavonia, you will encounter ambient places and villages. Do not hurry, stop and listen… You will not be able to believe what can be found…
- Forest Museum in Bošnjaci is a story about the deep connection of man and the forest.
- The Sanctuary of ‘Gospa na Vodici’ in Ilača and the Sanctuary of the Lady of Good Hope in Šumanovci near Gunja are places of peace and hope and a testimony of Christian tradition in the East of Croatia that is several centuries old.
- A mammoth made of hay in its natural size in Mohovo is a unique opportunity for a selfie. This hay sculpture is not here by accident. The only fossil remnant of the young woolly mammoth more than ten thousand years old was found in Mohovo.
- Gradište, Bošnjaci and Tordinci are attractive rural tourism destinations. You will enjoy the domestic brandy tasting, traditional ‘šlingeraj’ (drawing on textile) and a supreme eno-gastronomic offer.
- The adrenaline park in Cerna, with all its types of fruit trees, to be found from the North of Africa to the North of Europe, and an artificial lake for fishing, is the right choice for a trip.
In a word - irresistible! This is how the traditional cuisine of the Vukovar-Srijem County could be described. If you visit restaurants with the designation ‘Okusi Srijema i Slavonije’ (Tastes of Srijem and Slavonia), you will enjoy the finest traditional specialties, delicious confectionary, supreme wines of the Srijem vineyards and fragrant brandies. http://www.visitvukovar-srijem.com/hr
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VUKOVAR - VUČEDOL - ILOK, EDEN DESTINATION
The coast along the Danube, from Vukovar to Ilok, is a promenade of castles, museums, architectural wholes, archaeology and natural heritage, which is confirmed by the EDEN title – European Destination of Excellence, which the Vukovar – Vučedol – Ilok destination got in 2016 and 2017 for the cultural tourism topic.