Đakovo is known as the Heart of Slavonija. The first written accounts of Đakovo date from 1239, and it was the bishop’s seat since the early Middle Ages. In 1536 Đakovo was conquered by the Turks who then reigned the area for 150 years and almost all catholic churches were demolished. The Cathedral basilica of St. Peter is the town’s most famous landmark, built from 1866-1882 in neo-Gothic and Romanesque style. Seven million bricks were used during construction. The cathedral has 7 altars, 43 frescos, 31 statues and an organ with 73 registries.
Another symbol of Đakovo is the famous State Stud Farm of Lipizzan horses, established in 1506. It is one of the oldest stud farms in Europe. There are nowadays two locations for breeding and selection – the stables (Pastuharna) located in the town’s centre and Ivandvor, located 6.5 km outside the town. Both are open for visitors and you can attend workshops, see the trainings or ride the horses yourself.
The central traditional event held annually in July is called Đakovački vezovi (Đakovo Embroidery), a folklore show of the regions Slavonia and Baranja, presenting traditional folklore dancing, singing and customs. Interesting facts: Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth and prince of Wales have visited Đakovo 🙂
In the easternmost part of Croatia, you’ll find the most interesting wine road in the country, special because in almost every street in the town of Ilok there is a wine cellar. You can also take tour with a special tourist train. To enjoy a glass of fine wine and homemade specialties, choose between some 12 winegrowers and book your visit. In Ilok, you can taste or buy wine from the following grape varieties: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Rein Riesling, Silvanac and Traminac (white wine), and Pinot Noir, Frankovka and Cabernet Sauvignon if you prefer red wines. Traminac and Silvanac from Ilok was served at the crowning ceremony and diamond anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth II.
Archaeological locality Vučedol is among the most important ones in Europe. Here, in the city of Vukovar, on the banks of Danube River, you can explore a modern Museum of the Vučedol Culture on 1200m2 and learn interesting facts about this special locality which was first inhabited in about 6,000 B.C. A famous artifact found on site is the Vučedol dove, presumably made between the 2800 and 2400 B.C. It is one of two most prominent symbols of Vukovar nowadays – along with the Vukovar water tower, destroyed by the Serbian forces during Croatian War of Independence. During Serbian aggression, Vukovar was bombarded at a rate of up to 12,000 shells and rockets a day. It was the first major European town to be entirely destroyed since the Second World War. Today people come to pay respects to the innocent victims of Vukovar by visiting several memorial sites (collectively called The Vukovar Nocturno); the Vukovar Hospital 1991 – a multimedia museum that recounts the tragic events that took place in the hospital during the 1991 siege when 261 patients were taken by JNA (Yugoslav National Army), Croatian Serb Territorial Defence (TO), and paramilitaries from neighboring Serbia to nearby Ovčara (a pig farm), where they were tortured and later executed. Among the defenders of Vukovar was a young Frenchman, Jean-Michel Nicollier. After the story of his life and execution made it to the media (a book “Jean or the Smell of Death” and a documentary “It Was All Just a Good Dream”), in May 2013 citizens of Vukovar decided to name the bridge on river Vuka in his honor. On Ovčara, apart from a memorial by the mass grave site, there is a small museum with a gloomy multimedia exhibition and a central memorial flame. The place is bound to give you chills 🙁 After Ovčara, visit the Memorial Cemetery of Homeland War Victims where 938 white crosses stand as a painful remainder of an ordeal and tragedy this town went through in the 20th century, in the heart of Europe.
Vukovar was almost entirely rebuilt after the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia. In the Eltz Castle, which suffered heavy devastation during the war, you can see a permanent exhibition which is covering a time span of 8000 years with its collection. It is a city of history, and a city of courage…The heroic city.