Bicycle tours around Osijek:
The complex of the Tvrđa (Fortress) was built in the beginning of 18th century. It was built with imposing walls, entrance gates, Romanesque centre and Central Square. During that period Osijek was the most important military, economical, administrative and cultural centre of Slavonija. Tvrđa belongs to the most important old city centres in Croatia and it is the largest composition of Baroque military buildings preserved to this day. After the city was liberated from Turkish reign in 1687 the Austrian military authorities started to plan the building of a new fortress. It was built in the style of Dutch flatland fortifications with star shaped fortification walls. During 18th and 19th century, Osijek was a multiethnic town with inhabitants from Styria, Bavaria, Moravia, Italy, France, and Bulgaria. Foreign newcomers learned Croatian language, but still the official languages were German and Latin. Some merchant families spoke Romanic, Italian or French making Tvrđa and Osijek an international, multilingual town. From the four gates in the fortress, today only one remains – the north gate or the Water gate. Over time the military importance of the Osijek fortress diminished, especially after the decision of Emperor Joseph II from 1783 moving the supreme military command for Slavonija and Srijem to Petrovaradin (Novi Sad). Due to fast development of warfare technique and expensive maintenance of military buildings at the turn of 20th century the fortress became inappropriate for military use. Besides, the people of Osijek and the city council demanded the demolishing of the fortress walls because they were an obstacle to the economical development and traffic connection between Upper and Lower towns of Osijek. The demolition of the fortress walls began in 1923 and ended in 1926. So today, all that is left from the large fortress walls are parts of the 1st (Carl’s) and 8th (Eugene’s) bastion with the water tower.
Osijek has always been known as the green city, with lots of parks, alleys, green surfaces. Today Osijek has 17 parks, all over the city, so it is possible to find a nice shadowy place even during the hottest summer months. The biggest parks, King Tomislav Park and King Petar Krešimir the IV Park are very popular for walking, jogging, cycling or just resting on a bench. Both parks are protected as monuments of park architecture for their valuable plant species.
This wide avenue with rich linden tree alley is the most beautiful city street. North side is famous for the colourful Art Nouveau buildings with large front gardens and big iron fences. Facades come in various colours, decorated with picturesque mythological creatures and leave no passer by immune to their beauty. South side of the street is where the administrative buildings are – chamber of commerce, museum, county court, post office. They are all built in Historicist style and represent an ideal contrast to their ArtNouveau neighbours.
Parish Church of Saint Peter and Paul
Parish Church of Saint Peter and Paul, or as locals like to call it „The Cathedral“ dominates the Central Square. It was built from 1894 to 1898 using over 3,5 million red bricks. The initiative for the building of this large Neo-Gothic church came from Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer. The tower is 90 meters high and it is the tallest structure in Croatia outside Zagreb, and clearly visible from afar in the wide Slavonian plain.
One of the longest and most beautiful walking paths in Croatia follows the Drava River flow on both sides. It is a favourite place for recreation and weekend strolls, cycling, roller skating, various events and performances. Promenade connects west and east part of the city and for many it is the most beautiful and simple way to go from one end to another if you are walking or cycling. Along the Drava banks stand many boats and ships turned into bars and restaurants, and during the spring and summer months the central part of the Promenade is crowded with people walking or sitting in one of many bars and restaurants.
Osijek's Zoo has the largest surface in Croatia and after Zagreb it holds the highest number of animal species. It was opened in 1955 and soon became favourite place for many people, growing in numbers every year. It is located on the left river bank, and easily accessed by road or bicycle on the Promenade, but surely the best way to access it is by Kompa – a river ferry propelled only by the river current. Kompa is free for all visitors and it is also possible to transfer bicycles.
The most famous beach on the Drava River, named after the famous Rio de Janeiro beach is the favourite swimming place for all generations. It is located on the left river bank, with total of 4 swimming pools, water slides, sand beach on the Drava River and various sports facilities like mini golf, boules, bowling alley, giant chess, and volleyball court.
Nature Park Kopački rit
Kopački rit is located in Baranja region, in north – eastern Croatia, in a triangle formed by Danube and Drava Rivers. It is one of the largest natural wetland areas in Europe. Due to its large scale biodiversity and extraordinary scientific and ecological values, Kopački rit was declared a nature reserve in 1967, and several years later a nature park. The total surface of the park is 23000 hectares, 7000 of which is protected as a Special Zoo reserve. After Danube delta, Kopački rit is the biggest fish spawning area of the river, with total of 44 fish species recorded so far. Abundance of fish means abundance of wetland birds, which are very numerous in this area. So far, 297 bird species have been recorded, out of which 141 are nesting permanently or occasionally. More than 400 plant species contribute to enormous vegetation diversity, from thick floodplain forests of poplars and willows, century – old oaks in the northern part to vast reed beds and colourful seasonal wetland plants. Kopački rit offers a variety of activities, from cycling, canoe paddling, boat ride, bird watching, photo safari excursions, hiking, education, or just enjoying local cuisine and wines. Kopački rit changes its appearance from day to day, from season to season, so it is always interesting to visit, whether it’s the period of spring bird migration or autumn buck roar.
The origins of people living in Osijek dates back to Neolithic times, its first known inhabitants being to the Illyrians and later the invading Celtic tribes. After the conquest of Pannonia, Mursa belonged to the Roman Empire who had a military Castrum here and a built a bridge over the Drava. In 131, during the reign of Hadrian Mursa become an official colony. The battles that took place in the region were decisive to the cease of Roman presence in the area.
Osijek was first mentioned in historic sources in 1196. Later it became the feudal property of the Kórógyi family between 1353 and 1472. After them, King Mathias granted the property to be used by the Rozgony family. During the Ottoman Wars, Osijek was almost completely destroyed. Later the conquerors rebuilt it in Ottoman oriental style.
The city was liberated on 29 September 1687 and the Habsburgs took over the control. This was the period when the military complex known as Tvrđa and the monument to the casualties of the plaque were built.
After a steady growth, Osijek became a free royal city in 1809 and it was the largest city in Croatia in the early 19th century.
During the war in Croatia, from 1991 to 1995, the city was badly damaged, especially the centre and the Cathedral and there were many casualties.