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Osijek Fortress

19 June 2021.

Written by Matija Čaić

Thanks to the Ottoman invasion, Croatia is full of castles and well-fortified cities like Osijek.

Construction

With the escalation of the Ottoman threat, in the 17th and 18th century there was a need to create a defensive line in the form of fortified cities along the border. The construction was initiated by Eugene of Savoy, and the most famous such city is Osijek.

Construction was led by General Johann Stephan von Beckers. After the fortress was built, security and a good position placed Osijek in the center of this part of Europe, and the grateful inhabitants walled up the body of the deceased general in the northern rampart.

Ground plan

The streets were built according at right angles so that the army and equipment could be delivered to the ramparts as quickly as possible. Their model was the ancient Roman camp, so the two main streets were called Cardo (stretched north – south) and Decumanus (stretched east – west).

A city on the border of worlds

Osijek then became a multiethnic city. Immigrants from surrounding countries came seeking protection. Those who decided to settle permanently, had the opportunity to learn Croatian language along with Latin and German which were official.

On the main square, which was then called Wine square, and today Square of Holy Trinity, every Saturday and Wednesday wine imported from Baranja was sold.

Anecdotes

The gates of the fort closed at dusk and were not allowed to open until dawn. The citizens adhered to this regulation so firmly that even Emperor Joseph II had to spend the night outside the walls when he came to his first visit to Osijek in 1768 because he came after sunset.

In 1805, Napoleon threatened Vienna. Osijek was then considered the safest fortress of the Habsburg Empire, so the entire imperial treasury was moved to it. After the treasury was returned to Vienna, one treasure chest was never found.

Church of St. Krševan, Krk

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