Osijek-Baranja County is a part of the historical region of Slavonia. About 292,000 inhabitants live here. When you mention Slavonia to someone, what first comes to mind are its plains, gastronomy, Kopački rit nature park, wines, rural households, Lipizzaner horse breeds, the Drava and Danube rivers and the possibility of recreational activities. These are all tourist attributes that Osijek-Baranja County has at its disposal.
A short trip through Osijek-Baranja County
Našice is a city of beautiful landscape and cultural heritage, located in the heart of the Slavonian plain. The town is famous for the castle of the Pejačević family from the 19th century. Dora Pejačević, the first Croatian female composer (1885–1923), also lived in the castle. She has composed as many as 58 opuses, and her most famous work is the Piano Concerto from 1913, known as the first piano concerto in Croatian music.
Baranja is located in the lowland part of Croatia and borders the Hungarian county of the same name. During the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Croatian Baranja and Hungarian Baranja were part of the same state. The Croatian part of Baranja is bordered by the Hungarian border and the rivers Danube and Drava. It covers 1,147 square kilometers, while the Hungarian part covers 4,541 square kilometers.
In the south and east of Baranja, the junction of these two rivers has created one of the most beautiful nature parks in the Danube region – Kopački rit. Due to the multitude of wild animals that live here, hunting tourism has developed in Baranja. Baranja is also known for its wine production, dating back to ancient Rome. The oldest preserved wine cellar is from 1526, and is located in the village of Kneževi Vinogradi. This village, but also many others, are known for their multiculturalism, so Croats, Hungarians and Serbs live together in this area. Passing through Baranja, you will notice numerous inscriptions in Hungarian, such as the names of settlements, streets and important institutions. Baranja is also known for its top restaurants.
Kopački rit Nature Park
Kopački rit Nature Park is a floodplain that is filled with water from the Danube and Drava rivers. It consists of many ponds, backwaters, forests, reeds and meadows. It was founded in 1976, making it the oldest declared nature park in Croatia. It was named after the village of Kopačevo (Magyar Kopács).
Kopački rit is one of the largest river and wetland lowlands in Europe. About 140 species of birds nest in it every year, and the great biodiversity of over 2000 species is a reflection of the rich flora and fauna of the park.
In the spring, after the snow melts in the Alps and due to heavy rains, Kopački rit turns into a vast water surface from which rich wetland vegetation springs. Floods in Kopački rit last on average three months, depending on the previous winter. In the summer, the water recedes into the Danube and Drava, and to a lesser extent remains only in ponds, lakes and backwaters.
In the heart of the historical region of Slavonia is Đakovo, a town known for the beautiful Cathedral of St. Peter. Among the main attractions of Đakovo are Đakovo embroideries, a cultural and folklore event with a half-century tradition. An unavoidable attraction is the State Stud Farm of Lipizzaner Horses, one of the oldest in Europe.
Đakovo Cathedral of St. Peter
The Đakovo Cathedral was completed in 1882. It is as high as 84 meters, so you will easily notice it even ten kilometers before arriving in the city. Work on its construction took 16 years, although it was to be completed in five. It was built thanks to the then Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer. He hired top craftsmen and artists from various parts of Europe to build it. That’s why its interior is truly magnificent. The interior is adorned with frescoes created by the hands of the world’s greatest masters of the time. Its underground crypt, where the tombs of Bishop Strossmayer as well as the bishops before and after him are, is also impressive.
There are four beautifully arranged accumulation lakes near Đakovo. The closest to the city center is Lake Bajer. Although it is not safe for swimming, it is a good place for socializing and fishing. The lakes of the Đakovo region are inhabited by carp, Prussian carp, pike, perch, tench, catfish and other species of freshwater fish.
Lake Jošava is located on the edge of Đakovo. It is not too big, but it is pleasant for recreational fishermen and for anyone looking for a place to relax.
The most beautiful and largest lake is called Borovik. It was built on the site of a former village of the same name, which was submerged to build a lake. The lake is surrounded by the green slopes of the Slavonian mountain Krndija. Borovik mostly comes to life during the warmer months of the year, especially on weekends. Then many excursionists come to the lake and enjoy swimming, fishing, walking, cycling or camping.
The fourth lake near Đakovo is Mlinac, also intended for sport-recreational fishing and relaxation.
Đakovo stud farm
The stud farm in Đakovo was founded in 1506, which makes it one of the oldest stud farms in Europe and speaks of a long tradition of horse breeding in the area. Today, the State Stud Farm Đakovo uses two locations for breeding and selection of horses. These locations are Pastuharna, located in the heart of Đakovo, and Ivandvor, near the city. In addition to breeding and selection of horses, the Stable is also engaged in training, the quality of which is confirmed by taking notable places in equestrian competitions.
Vineyards in Osijek-Baranja County
There are four vineyards in Osijek-Baranja County, namely Baranja, Erdut, Feričanci and Đakovo. They cover a total of 2,280 hectares. The most common white wine varieties produced here are Graševina, Traminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Gris and others. Of the red varieties, Frankovka, Cabernet, Pinot Noir and others are known.
The most famous wineries in Osijek-Baranja County are: Belje winery in the village of Kneževi Vinogradi, Josić winery and Gerštmajer winery in Zmajevac, Erdutski vinogradi winery and Brzica winery in Erdut and winery in Feričanci.
Hungarians in Osijek-Baranja County
About 10,000 Hungarians live in Osijek-Baranja County. Of that number, most of them are in the Baranja area. The number of people of mixed, for example Hungarian-Croatian origin, is even higher.
The community of Hungarians in Croatia is called DZMH – Democratic Union of Hungarians in Croatia, and it is led by Robert Jankovics. In Osijek, on the other hand, the Hungarian Educational and Cultural Center has been operating since 1999, which is the largest such educational institution in the Republic of Croatia. In 2019, a modern student dormitory was opened next to it.
It is interesting that every Hungarian settlement in Osijek-Baranja County has its own event, in order to gather and get to know all Hungarians in Croatia. Probably the most famous event is the Fishermen’s Days in the village of Kopačevo.
Dalj Elementary School is also attended by several students of the Hungarian national minority, who nurture their language and culture through folklore and social events.
Bicycle paths between Croatia and Hungary
Osijek-Baranja County is networked with bicycle paths and routes. Since most of the county is a plain, cycling is a very popular activity here, both among the people who live here and with tourists. Some cycling routes are international and connect Croatia and Hungary. Riding them may be the best way to get to know this region. There is about 100 km from Dalj to the nearest Hungarian border, so such a road requires good equipment and more importantly – being in good shape. One of the most beautiful cycling routes is Antunovac – Osijek – Baranjsko Petrovo Selo – Beremend. It mostly goes along the Drava embankment, through an area rich in forests. The second route connects Osijek, Beli Manastir and the Hungarian Mohacs, and mainly passes through populated areas.
Authors of the text (in order): Tamara Ćurčić, Lea Radić, Lucija Majer, Mihael Lovrić, Magdalena Tišma, Lea Hrehorović, Dejan Popović, Robin Kremerenski, Lucija Kalozi, Vojkan Popadić