The Jewish Story of Osijek

The City of Osijek is located in the eastern, continental part of Croatia, in the plains, on the right bank of the Drava River. It is the largest city in Slavonia, at the same time the seat of Osijek-Baranja County. The city’s geographical position is favourable and it is accessible in relation to major European corridors and that it is located near major cities and capitals: Zagreb (278 km), Novi Sad (112 km), Belgrade (186 km) and Budapest (257 km). 

birds eye view of city with red roofs, trees, and a river
Credit: Agencija za obnovu osječke Tvrđe – https://aoot.hr/

The city is located on the route of the Vc Pan-European transport corridor towards Budapest and at a distance of about 70 km from the Zagreb – Belgrade highway. In the immediate vicinity of the city there are two airports: Osijek airport of international importance (category 4D) and Osijek – Čepin airport (category 2C). The RH3 railway corridor, significant for international traffic, crosses over this area. At a distance of about 45 km there is the corridor of the international railway in Vinkovci. Pursuant to the European Agreement on Main Inland Waterways of International Importance (AGN), the Drava River was included in the Inland Waterways of International Importance among other rivers (E 80–08 River Drava up to Osijek). 

The Danube waterway extends from the border with Hungary all the way to the border with Serbia, and the Drava River from the mouth of the Danube to Osijek is of the greatest importance in Osijek-Baranja County. Public bus and tram transportation is provided in the city. A total of 25 bicycle trails with a total length of almost 41 km stretch over the city of Osijek territory, especially in the center and the wider center of the city, which makes it easier to navigate and explore the sights of Osijek. 

Grad Osijek / City of Osijek – www.osijek.hr

The City of Osijek bike route is also a part of the Pecs – Osijek – Antunovac cycling route established within a tourism project linking Croatia and Hungary. Osijek is located on the international cycling route along the Danube, passing from Germany via Austria and Hungary to Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. The European Bike Route Euro Velo 6 runs through the city of Osijek, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea. There is also a Euro Velo 13 cycling route near the city, the so-called Iron Curtain route, and the cycling route along the Drava River.

According to the 2011 census, the total population of Osijek-Baranja County was 305,032, out of whom 108,048 lived in the City of Osijek, while according to estimates by the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2017   In Osijek – Baranja County, there were 283 035 inhabitants, which indicates a downward trend in population.

Credit: Agencija za obnovu osječke Tvrđe – https://aoot.hr/

The specialty of the City of Osijek are valuable urban areas, areas of historical cultural value, as well as a long tradition of landscaped public green areas. Two protected parks in the area of the city of Osijek, King Tomislav Park and King Peter Krešimir IV Park, should be emphasised as park architecture monuments. According to the Cultural Heritage Register of the Ministry of Culture, there are 126 protected cultural goods in the territory of the City of Osijek, out of which 6 are movable cultural goods – museum material and 117 immovable cultural goods. Till World War II Osijek had the 2nd largest Jewish community in Croatia after Zagreb and we owe much of our cultural heritage to this prosperous community which significantly contributed to the city development and progress from the 2nd part of the 19th ct. till World War II.

Credit: “Visit Osijek – Turistička zajednica grada Osijeka” – www.tzosijek.hr

Osijek and its surroundings are also regionally well-known for great gastronomy and enology offers, so there are many (boutique) hotels, hostels and interesting restaurants to visit. The climate in the City of Osijek is moderate continental. The City and County Tourist Boards (https://www.tzosijek.hr/; https://visitslavoniabaranja.com/) operate in the Osijek-Baranja County. Also, there are tourist information centers and local offices of tourist boards in the area covered. 

The trend of increasing the number of arrivals and overnight stays in recent years speaks of the increasing attractiveness of eastern Croatia. Eastern Croatia is a potential eco, gastronomic and recreational destination, which can contribute to the growing demand for cultural and entertainment facilities. Currently, the offer of travel agencies operating in the area of eastern Croatia is based on sightseeing of urban centers (Osijek, Đakovo, Vukovar, Vinkovci, Slavonski Brod), historical and natural landscapes (Kopački rit Nature Park, river flows, etc.) and sacral objects (Đakovo Cathedral, Aljmaš Shrine). It is expected that in the near future, more diverse cultural programmes will be included in the tourist packages that will meet the wishes of the visitors of the destination.