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srijeda, 30. ožujka 2011.


Promenade along the Drava river

Osijek is the fourth largest city in Croatia with a population of 114,616 in 2001. It is the largest city and the economic and cultural centre of the eastern Croatian region of Slavonia, as well as the administrative centre of Osijek-Baranja county. Osijek is located on the right bank of the river Drava, 25 kilometres upstream of its confluence with the Danube, at an elevation of 94 metres.

The name was given to the city due to its position on elevated ground which prevented the city being flooded by the local swamp waters. Its name Osijek comes from the Croatian word "oseka" which means "ebb tide".

Due to its past and its history within the Habsburg Monarchy and briefly in the Ottoman Empire and also due to the presence of German and Hungarian minorities throughout its history, Osijek also has (or had) its names in other languages, notably Hungarian: Eszék, German: Esseg, Serbian: Осек or Осијек, Latin: Mursa, Turkish: Ösek. All those names were adjusted variations to the original Croatian given name. In Roman times Osijek was called Mursa Maior, but its official Roman name was Colonia Aelia Mursa, as it was established by emperor Hadrian.


The origins of human habitation of Osijek dates back to Neolithic times, with the first known inhabitants belonging to the Illyrian tribes. Roman emperor Hadrian raised the old settlement of Mursa to a colony with special privileges in 131. After that, Mursa had a turbulent history, with several decisive battles taking place (among which the Battle of Mursa Major in 351 and the battle between Aureolus and Ingenuus in 260), deciding the destiny of the whole region. After their migration, the Croats made a settlement near the ruins of Mursa, giving it its present name, Osijek. Life was thriving here in the Middle Ages, but only traces of that life can be found today because of destruction in Ottoman–Hungarian Wars as well as architectural changes during the Ottoman period.

The earliest mentions of Osijek date to 1196. The town was a feudal property of the Korogyi family between 1353 and 1472. The city was demaged by the Ottoman conquerors on 8 August 1526. The Turks rebuilt it in oriental style and it was mentioned in the Turkish census of 1579. In 1566, Suleiman the Magnificent built a famous, 8 kilometer-long wooden bridge of boats in Osijek, considered to be one of the wonders of the world. The town was officially promoted to a city by the end of the 17th century. It was a sanjak of Budin Eyalet.

Habsburg Empire
Osijek was restored to western rule when on 29 September 1687 it was occupied by the Habsburg Empire. Between 1712 and 1721, new Austrian authorities built a new fortress (authored by the architect Maximilian de Gosseau), known as Tvrđa. It is a unique urban and military complex that lies in the heart of the town. Its main central Holy Trinity Square is closed on the north by the building of the Military Command, on the west there is the Main Guard building and on the east is the Magistrate building (presently Museum of Slavonia). In the middle there is a monument to the plague, erected in 1729 by general Petras' widow. The Gornji Grad (Upper Town) was founded in 1692 and Donji Grad (Lower Town) followed on 1698. Tvrđa, Gornji, and Donji grad continued as separate municipalities until 1786. In late 18th century it took over from Virovitica as the centre of the Verőce county.

City of Osijek panorama

The Habsburg empire also facilitated the migration and settlement of German immigrants into the town and region.

In 1809, Osijek was granted the title of a Free Royal City and during the early 19th century it was the largest city in Croatia. The city developed along the lines of other central European cities, with cultural, architectural and socio-economic influences filtering down from Vienna and Buda.

During the 19th century, cultural life mostly revolved around the theatre, museums (the first museum was opened in 1877 by private donations), collections and printing houses (the Franciscans). City society, whose development was accompanied by a prosperous economy and developed trade relations, was related to religious festivals, public events (fairs), entertainment and sports. The Novi Grad (New Town) section of the city was built in the 19th century, as well as Retfala to the west.

20th century
The newest additions to the city include Sjenjak, Vijenac, Jug and Jug II, which were built in the 20th century. The city's geographical riverside location, and noted cultural and historical heritage — particularly the baroque Tvrđa, one of the most immediately recognizable structures in the region — facilitated the development of tourism. The Osijek oil refinery was a strategic bombing target of the Oil Campaign of World War II.

Immediately after the war, the daily newspaper Glas Slavonije has been relocated to Osijek and has printed there ever since. A history archive was established in the city in 1947 and city library in 1949. The Children's theatre and the art gallery were open in 1950.

As a continuation of the reach tradition of promoting national heritage, especially in music, society of culture and art "Pajo Kolarić" was established on 21 March 1954.

Osijek has been connected with the Croatian republic's capital Zagreb and the previous federal capital Belgrade by a modern paved road since 1958. The new Drava bridge to the north was built in 1962.

The first faculty opened in Osijek was Faculty of Economy (in 1959 as Centre for economic studies of the Faculty of Economy in Zagreb), followed immediately by a high school of agriculture, later renamed as Faculty of Agriculture and Faculty of Philosophy. The Faculty of Law was established in 1975. thus becoming the first new member of newly established University of Osijek.

As part of further development as a regional food industry and agricultural centre, a major (working) collective for agriculture and industry was established in 1962.

During 1980s, a new pedestrian suspension bridge over the Drava was built. A regional centre of JRT was also opened.

During the war in Croatia, from 1991 to 1995, the city avoided heavy destruction (unlike nearby Vukovar, for example) and sustained moderate damage, especially to the centre and Co-cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul and to the periphery. More than a thousand (over 1200) civilians also died in the daily shelling of the town. On the other hand, at least five Croatian officials were condemned for war crimes against Serb civilians in Osijek, including General Branimir Glavaš. While some buildings still have mild damage, most often the occasional superficial pockmark from artillery and mortar fire, the city's facades are generally in good shape, due to extensive restoration in recent times, preserving the charm of its intricate Austro-Hungarian Baroque architecture in the older quarters of town.

Tourism, sights and attractions
Osijek remains a popular domestic tourist destination for its Baroque style, open spaces and ample recreational opportunities. The most important sights in the city include the main square, Trg Ante Starčevića, Tvrđa the 18th century Baroque citadel, the promenade along the Drava ("promenada"), and the suspension pedestrian bridge toward Baranja.

The Municipal Park of King Petar Krešimir IV and the Tomislav Park date from the beginning of the 20th century, and are protected national landmarks. Osijek is also home to one of the few Croatian zoological gardens, along the Drava river. The city is home to a monument to Ante Starčević.

The Church of St. Peter and Paul is a Neo-Gothic structure with the second highest tower in Croatia after the Zagreb Cathedral. The tower measure 90 m (295.28 ft) and can be seen from throughout Osijek. Because of its size most locals refer to it as the cathedral but it is only a parish church. The Church of St Peter and St Paul was designed by Franz Langenberg and contains 40 stained glass windows, although they are not all intact after the bombing in the 1990s. The church also contains sculptures by Eduard Hauser.

Twin towns - sister cities

Osijek is twinned with:
* Hungary Pécs, Hungary, since 1972
* Slovenia Maribor, Slovenia, since 1995
* Germany Pforzheim, Germany, since 1994
* Romania Ploieşti, Romania, since 1996
* Bosnia and Herzegovina Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, since 1996
* Switzerland Lausanne, Switzerland, since 1997
* Slovakia Nitra, Slovakia, since 1997
* Hungary Budapest, XIII district, Hungary, since 2001
* Subotica, Serbia, since 2004

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