The first couple of days of the press trip were focused more in the Virovitica-Podravina and Pozega side of the Slavonia county while the final few were more Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem Counties. I must admit that as much as I loved the forestry greenery, abundance of hilltops and generous hospitality all around Virovitica and Pozega Counties, I am more connected to the other side of Slavonia I’ve only ever known. I had never visited Vinkovci prior to this press trip but had spent a day in Đakovo briefly a few years ago. I was always aware of the beautiful Cathedral in Đakovo towering over the town, literally, but never knew anything about the city so I was very curious to know more about what to do in both Đakovo and Vinkovci.
Đakovo is the second largest town in the Osijek-Baraja County with a population of about 27,000 people. While the town has numerous religious monuments and motifs, Đakovo’s main cultural attraction is the Catherdral (Cathedral basilica of St. Peter) that is also visible as far as the highway as you pass the town from a distance. The Cathedral was opened in 1882, stands at 84 meters tall and 7 million bricks were used to create one of the most spectacular Cathedrals in Europe, inside and out. Right next door is the Bishops Palace.
Upon stepping inside the Cathedral in Đakovo, you’re met with a modest, yet classic interior. Don’t get me wrong, it’s grand but a lot less intimidating compared to other Churches and Cathedrals in Croatia. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter was built in neo-Gothic and Romanesque style and took 16 years to complete. The interior was commissioned to Rome-based German painters father-son duo, Alexander-Maximilian and Ludwig Seitz and they did a spectacular job translating Biblical tales onto the walls and ceilings.
Address: Strossmayerov trg 6, 31400, Đakovo
We were also given a private tour of the Bishop’s Palace and wine cellar under the palace with a special intimate wine cheese and wine tasting. The Đakovo-Osijek Archdiocese Winery dates back to 1716 and is the official wine used by the Priests and Bishops during mass. The winery is known to produce some of the finest wines in the region including, Grasevina (also known as Italian riesling), chardonnay, Traminac and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Bishop’s Palace is almost an extension of the Dakovo Cathedral, a baroque style building overlooking the main square. In modern day, it serves as the offices for the administration for the Đakovo-Osijek Archdiocese.
Address: Strossmayerov trg, 31400, Đakovo
The State Stud Farm in Đakovo
The State Stud Farm in Đakovo has been around since 1506 and is one of the oldest Stud Farms in Europe. The Stud Farm is famous for it’s breeding of the Lipizzan breed and there are currently two locations for horse breeding and selection, Ivandvor and another in the heart of Đakovo. Horses are also properly groomed and trained at the centres for competitions.
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Magical Đakovo by @lesdroners The majestic horse from fantasy stories with white hair and a horn may not exist in real life but the horse that inspired storytellers to invent unicorns is very real. It is the royal breed called #Lipizzaner and you can ride it in the town of Đakovo in the Croatian region of Slavonia. #Djakovo #VisitDjakovo #Slavonia #ShareSlavonia #VisitSlavonia #horses
We were greeted at the Ivandvor stables by the mothers and children rushing into the fields full speed, it was mesmerising and beautiful at the same time. We were also able to get up close with the beautiful horses as you can see above with travel blogger duo from France, Les Droners. Here’s a fun little story, Queen Elisabeth II visited the The State Stud Farm in Đakovo after watching one of the Lippizan horses at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 1972 and then rode around the town for 4 hours in a carriage.
Address: Ul. Augusta Šenoe 45, 31400, Đakovo
Go Deer Watching in Kunjevci
Hunting Lodge Kunjevci is a 20 minute drive from the centre of Vinkovci. The lodge operates as a hotel and restaurant but you’re also able to take the electric car into the oak forest nearby for deer and wild bore watching. During our journey, I wasn’t able to see a deer (I also have very poor long distance vision) but the group behind us did manage to spot a pair. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours out in nature.
Address: Kunjevci bb, 32100, Vinkovci
Throughout the week we were spoilt with food and home made alcohol on almost an hourly basis, not joking. One of the greatest and sincerest forms of hospitality we received was in Županja in the main square. Local children were playing football amongst each other while others were dressed in their folklore outfits. We were welcomed with freshly made poderane gaće (deep fried dough, Hungarian speciality) and copious amounts of local rakija that I passed onto my husband.
Županja is also where the monument for the first football in Croatia stands in the main square of the town.
#CroatiaFullofFestivals ・Vinkovačke jeseni
Every year for the last 53 years, Vinkovci Autumn Festival is held in the town’s centre to bring together and celebrate the local Slavonian people. It is always held on the first week of September, marking the beginning of autumn and is one of the most important festivals in the region and in Croatia.
Local folklore groups from neighbouring villages come together to perform wearing their traditional costumes, often you’ll notice up to 4 generations performing from one village. You’re also able to purchase authentic souvenirs from Slavonia while sampling local cuisine such as fiš-paprikaš, čobanac and carp. The entertainment goes deep into the evening and the festival goes on for 7 days.
Have a little more time to spare while in Slavonia?