Osjecko-Baranjska Zupanija, or Osijek-Baranja County, is one of Croatia's 20 counties, located in the eastern part of the country, contributing to the state border with Serbia to the east and Hungary to the north. Within Croatia, the county borders Vukovar-Srijem County to the southeast, Brod-Posavina County to the south, while to the west, the county neighbors the Požega-Slavonia County and Virovitica-Podravina County. Geographically, the region encompasses the land surrounding the lower section of the Drava River as it meets the Danube River. The floodplain of the Danube has formed Kopački Rit, which is a sanctuary for a variety of bird species, today recognized and protected as a nature park. The capital city, Osijek, is located in the eastern part of the county. Osijek is the largest city not only in the county itself but in all of Slavonia, which is one of Croatia's five historical regions consisting of Brod-Posavina, Osijek-Baranja, Požega-Slavonia, Virovitica-Podravina, and Vukovar-Syrmia Counties. In the Osjecko-Baranjska Zupanija, people can visit several historical landmarks, such as the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Đakovo. Other activities available in the county include horseback riding, as horse breeding is a tradition in Osijek-Baranja. Visitors can explore the natural areas by riding through the network of paths leading through forests, ponds, and fields.
Osijek-Baranja's capital city, Osijek, is located in the eastern part of the territory. The town boasts considerable history, as its area has been inhabited since ancient times. Throughout the years, several monuments and landmarks have been preserved in the city. Thus, people can visit various places to learn about the city's history. One of the historical attractions in Osijek is Tvrda, which is reportedly the oldest part of the town. Tvrda used to be an autonomous town in the Middle Ages, which was later transformed into a fortress by the Austrians, with walls, barracks, and bastions. While some walls and gates have disappeared over time, Tvrda still retains its baroque architectural plan, showcasing squares, churches, and buildings. Visitors can explore the Museum of Slavonia, the Franciscan Monastery, and the Church of St. Anthony, the latter of which stands on the site of a former Turkish minaret.
Another area to visit is Gornji Grad, the Upper Town, known for its Parish Church of St. Peter and Paul. The church's 90-meter-high bell tower is the second tallest in Croatia. Additionally, the church features Viennese architecture with 40 stained-glass windows and stonework crafted by sculptor Eduard Hauser.
Slavonia and Baranja offer not only historic castles and estates to visit but also an opportunity to enjoy nature and the outdoors. The region has a tradition of horse breeding dating over 500 years back, exemplified by the Lipizzaner stud in Đakovo and Ivandvor. In addition to these institutions, there is now an increasing number of family estates and ranches where visitors can experience horseback riding, riding lessons, or carriage rides. Baranje and Slavonia area has paths that wind through forests, ponds, and fields, which can be used for riding.
Additionally, Slavonia and Baranja are known for their wines and considerable winemaking tradition. There are vineyards and wineries that are several centuries old found within the region. Visitors can explore historic wineries, such as an establishment in Đakovo, which is three-century-old, or the most extensive Croatian historical wine cellar in Kneževi Vinogradi. Vineyard-covered areas mainly include the Erdut plateau and Feričanci area.
Located in the northeastern part of the Republic of Croatia, the Osijek-Baranja County spans an area of 4,155 square kilometers. It encompasses the Drava River's lower course and the Danube River's floodplain, including the Kopački Rit Nature Park. The region is predominantly flat, facilitating agricultural development, with a considerable portion of the land used for farming and forests. Moreover, Osijek-Baranja County boasts a transportation network with approximately 1,700 kilometers of roads and 180 kilometers of railways. The Danube and Drava Rivers provide access to the broader European river network, and two nearby airports also serve the county. Additionally, the European transport corridor passes through the city of Osijek, connecting northern and southern Europe.
In the eastern part of the Osjecko-Baranjska Zupanija is found the Kopački Rit Nature Park, which is a protected natural area. Encompassing 238 hectares, the nature park is known for its green waters and forests, making it one of the greenest areas in the region. The park is situated at the confluence of the Drava and Danube rivers, and its remote location has preserved its undisturbed state throughout the years. As one of Europe's most extensive natural wetlands, Kopački Rit has been recommended for inclusion in the UNESCO List of Natural Heritage. Furthermore, the park is home to various animal species, namely herds of deer and wild boar. The park is also home to numerous birds, with over 300 species—including rare and protected animals—such as the white-tailed eagle and black stork, who find refuge in Kopački Rit. Tourists can explore the park's wetlands, forests, and diluvial fields either on foot or by boat excursion to navigate through the shallow backwaters.
Regarding climatic conditions in Osijek, the warmest month is generally August, with an average daily temperature of 30°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, as temperatures have an average high of 4°C. March tends to be the driest month in Osijek because it generally receives 37 millimeters of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during June, as it gets an average of about 84 millimeters.
Osijek, the capital city of Osijek-Baranja County, has a history dating back to Neolithic times. Initially, the Osijek area was inhabited by Illyrians and, later, influenced by Celtic tribes. During Roman rule, Osijek became known as Mursa. The city was protected by the Roman 7th Legion and elevated to the status of a colony by Emperor Hadrian. However, Mursa experienced turbulent times with several battles and invasions, including clashes with Aureolus and Ingenuus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire and subsequent resettlement by Slavic tribes marked a new chapter in the city's history. Today, Osijek is a testament to its ancient origins and cultural heritage.
Croats settled the region of Osijek-Baranja County in the 7th century and was part of the independent Croatian state until 1102 when it joined the Croatian-Hungarian kingdom. In the Middle Ages, noble families owned the area, and Đakovo became the seat of a bishop. The Turkish army conquered Osijek in 1526. However, in 1687, the Austrians expelled the Turks and took control. Under Austrian and Austro-Hungarian rule, the area experienced economic and social development, with agricultural growth, industrialization, and urbanization. After World War I, Osijek-Baranja territory became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, the region was affected by Serbian aggression in the early 1990s. It was under UN protection until 1996, when peaceful reintegration into Croatia began. Since 1998, Osijek-Baranja County has been fully integrated into the Republic of Croatia.
One of the local historical destinations in Osijek-Baranja County is the town of Đakovo. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Đakovo is a religious landmark in the region of Slavonia. Built from 1866 to 1882, the cathedral reportedly is the most significant sacral object in Đakovo. In today's times, the cathedral tends to host choirs, art exhibitions, and a horse and wedding wagon show. Apart from the historical landmarks, the town also hosts the annual Đakovački Vezovi, a folklore show that displays traditional costumes, dancing, singing, and customs of Slavonia and Baranja.
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