Historical Baroque City Centre
The historical baroque centre of Vukovar is what provides the recognisable visual identity of the city. The centre of Old Vukovar is recognisable by houses with baroque arches built in the typical style of Maria Theresa period provincial baroque. Those used to be craftsmen shops and stores which were a clear representation of the economic power of the citizens of Vukovar. At the same time as the recognisable baroque construction of Old Vukovar in the 18th century, with noticeable distinctions in style, the area of New Vukovar was also developing. Most of the buildings in that part of the city on the left bank of the Vuka bear the marks of clean and restrained late-baroque classicism. This complete baroque whole has remained a dominant stylistic layer in historic Vukovar to this day, with numerous architectural monuments of exceptionally high visual artistic and ambient value. The core of the city centre is protected as an urban historical entity.
The Coach Post Building
The building was built in the second half of the 18th century and its distinguishing feature is the elegance of the long colonnade. The building housed the Vukovar City Museum, but after the heritage collections were moved to the Castle Eltz, the Bauer Collection and the Art Gallery were active here until 1990. During the Homeland War the building suffered significant damage. Today it is rebuilt and it shines again the way it once did.
City Magistrate Building
The magistrate building built for the purposes of city local administration, was constructed in the late classicist architecture style. The tympanum shows the year of its construction MDCCCXVIII (1818) and the inscription DOMUS OPPIDANA. The facade is enriched with capitals and pilasters. There are arcades on the ground floor under the floor windows. Since it was renovated it houses Croatian Radio Vukovar.
Central Pharmacy Kirchbaum
It was built in 1909 in the spirit of late historicism with pronounced secession details. The corner section housed the oldest pharmacy in Vukovar owned by the Kirchbaum family since 1787 in several locations.
Grand Hotel is the most known example of monumental historicist architecture. The building was built by the big landowner Paunović as a hotel, according to the plans by the famous architect Vladimir Nikolić, from 1895-1897. Grand Hotel offered hospitality services and had a theatre hall as well. The hotel had been leased until 1919 when it was sold to a new owner, Miša Gotfrid. At that time the Labour Movement was gaining momentum in Vukovar and the workers wanted to build a workers’ hall. Since the Grand Hotel was offered for sale again in 1919, the workers had formed the Cooperative Workers’ Hall and began to raise funds by selling the cooperative’s shares; they bought the Grand Hotel and turned it into a Workers’ Hall. It is where the 2nd Congress of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia was held in 1920.
Old Water Tower
It was built in 1913 at the location of the former market and it is one of the oldest structures of that kind in Croatia. Civil engineers J. Funtak and Karlovsky built the structure according to the plans made by J. Banheyer. There is a drilled well and underground water tank under the water tower and another tank on the top. The Old Water Tower it is one of the most recognisable motifs of old Vukovar. Today it holds a central place at the main square in front of the Dunav hotel and City Hall and soon it will be adapted to house an information centre.
The construction of the castle began in 1749 by the owner of the Vukovar fief Count Anzelmo Kazimir Eltz. In the beginning only the central section was built and several additional constructions added the other sections. The first major expansion was done in as early as 1781 and it was complete in the early 20th century, according to the plans by the architect from Vienna Siedek. It is large, with a luxurious concept and with rich stylistic details, but it retains the harmony of ratio. It is considered as one of the most representative buildings of the baroque era in Croatia. Since 1968 the Castle Eltz houses the Vukovar City Museum. The building suffered terrible damage in 1991 and the castle is fully reconstructed through the project by the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia “Vukovar - Vučedol - Ilok: Research – Restoration – Revitalization”.
Church of Saint Filip and Jakov and the Franciscan Monastery
The Franciscan monks had a very important role in the Vukovar area through many centuries and they left a permanent mark, not only because of their religious teachings but also for education and the cultural development of the area. The Franciscans have been in this area as early as the medieval period, when there were seven Franciscan Monasteries in the Vukovar County.
The work of the Franciscans was especially important during the Ottoman dominion, because they remained with their congregations through that period. Immediately after the war for liberation from the Ottomans, the Franciscans have returned to their old counties and founded their residences and continued to work diligently to this day.
In 1723, Nesselrod, the Bishop of Pecs, allowed the Franciscans to build a church and a monastery in Vukovar. That is when the construction of the monumental Franciscan complex, the oldest and the most recognisable structure of the baroque Vukovar, began. The essential sections of this complex were completed during the 13 years of its construction, but due to later additions of floors to the monastery, the construction continued until the end of the 18th century. Around 1760, Ambrozije Janković painted the oil paintings at the church altar. The Franciscan Monastery in Vukovar with the church of Saint Filip and Jakov gained its final appearance after the historicist renovation and the expansion of the church from 1896 to 1897, which was done according to the plans by the architect R. Jordan. That is when the initial single-nave church was expanded in length and width with two side naves – chapels.
The Franciscan Monastery in Vukovar was a nursery of faith, education, and culture. The Franciscans were the immediate providers of elementary school education for Catholic youth. In 1733 the administration of the Franciscan province has established a provincial college of philosophy in the Vukovar monastery and it remained active for fifty years. One of the famous lecturers at the Franciscan School of Philosophy was a man from Vukovar, Fra Josip Janković. Thanks to his influence in Rome, he received the body of Saint Bono the Martyr from Pope Benedict XIV, which was moved to Vukovar and laid to rest at the Franciscan church of Saint Filip and Jakov. From 1804 to 1900, with longer and shorter interruptions, the college of theology was active in the monastery.
The hard working Franciscans have been gathering valuable art through the centuries: paintings, statues, archival data, and liturgical plates and cups. The rich and very valuable monastery library, with collections that made it one of the most valuable old libraries in Croatia, owned 17 000 tomes, and the monastery treasury held rich silver and gold plated artistic liturgical plates and cups made from the 16th to the 20th century. Artist paintings by baroque and later masters decorated altars, walls of the church, and rooms in the monastery.
Until the destruction during the Homeland War, when the church was destroyed and the Franciscans driven away, the Franciscan Monastery with the church of Saint Filip and Jakov were the oldest preserved baroque monument and the oldest building in Vukovar in general. The complex is restored today and it is registered as a cultural monument of category A. The restoration was done using the funds donated by the Zagreb County.
The church in Vukovar, with the length of 58 metres, is the third largest church in Croatia, after the cathedrals in Zagreb and Đakovo.
Palace of the Syrmia County
It was built from 1771 to 1777 in the style of classicised late baroque with distinguished sculptured decorations on the facades. In the middle of a regular tall tympanum there is a crest of the Syrmia County given to the city by the Empress Maria Theresa in 1747. The building is connected to the palace of the once existing County Administration (1889-1902) and the courtyard housed the late baroque chapel for the condemned where confessions were held for those sentenced to death. The complex is registered as a cultural monument of category A and it has been restored to its historical image, the donor for the restoration was the Split-Dalmatia County.
Birth House of Lavoslav Ružička
The first Croatian Nobel Prize winner Lavoslav Ružička was born to a family of craftsmen in Vukovar on September 13th, 1887. Since he was four he had been living in Osijek, where he completed elementary school and Classical Grammar School. After that he enrolled in Technical College in Karlsruhe. In less than four years, in 1910, he completed his studies in chemistry and his doctoral dissertation in organic chemistry. His particular field of study were natural compounds, especially physiologically active and fragrant substances. In 1939 he received a Nobel Prize for chemistry. In 1940 Ružička was elected to be an honorary member of the Yugoslavian Academy of Sciences and Arts and an honorary doctorate holder of the Croatian University. The same year he was named an honorary citizen of Vukovar. Ružička and his associates published 580 science papers until 1960. He died in Zürich in his 90th year, on September 26th, 1976.
Saint Rok’s Chapel
It is located in Županijska Ulica, the main street of Novi Vukovar (New Vukovar). The chapel is harmoniously integrated into the castle complex Eltz, even though it was built nine years before the Castle and is not a part of the Castle. It was built with the donation of Antun Pöhr de Rosenthall in 1740 as a covenant (plague) chapel and at the same time as a filial church for German immigrants in that part of the city. Its distinguishing feature was the painting of Saint Rok, Saint Sebastijan, and Saint Rozalija, protectors from the plague, which was on the altar. The initial baroque corpus of the chapel was expanded with a lateral oratory and vestry, and a picturesque bell tower with a shingle roof, during the classicist renovation in 1805. Later renovations were done in 1858 and 1904, and after World War II. The donor for the renovation after the Homeland War was the Šibenik-Knin County.
Bećarski križ (Reveller’s Cross)
The oldest and largest public crucifix in Vukovar gave the name to the entire section of Old City – at the Reveller’s Cross. The crucifix was built in 1805 as a first public crucifix in the city made of stone (earlier ones, from the 18th century, were made of wood). As early as the late 19th century the crucifix was surrounded by an iron fence and miniature trees were growing within. With its scale and rustic craftsmanship the Reveller’s Cross seemed like an example of a public sculpture, even though its class profile and decorations bear a clear classicist mark. The local Serbian government demolished the crucifix in 1996. This monument of great symbolic and ambient value has been reconstructed with facsimile accuracy.
First secondary schools in Vukovar were built near Reveller’s Cross; the Vukovar Grammar School was there from 1891 to 1894, until it moved to the grammar school building that we know today.
Chapel of Saint Paraskeva on Dobra Voda
Dobra Voda is located on the bank of the Vuka across from Adica (small river island). This place used to be overgrown with thorns and had a pasture where the shepherds would bring their flocks to feed. This is where they found a source of good and clear water and that is what gave the place its name Dobra Voda (Good Water). The Orthodox Serbs have been placing crosses on the field and the sources of water where they would gather for prayer since olden times. They did so here as well. In 1811 a chapel was built here and dedicated to Saint Paraskeva.
The Vukovar Water Tower, 50 metres tall and with a volume of 2200 cubic meters of water, was built in the late sixties in the then existing city park and picnic site, the so called Najpar-bašča, at the entrance to the Vukovar quarter called Mitnica. Its volume and size made it one of the largest structures of that type in Europe at the time. Until the war, the top of the Water Tower housed a restaurant with a view of Vukovar, the Danube, and the surrounding vineyards of Syrmia. During the Serbian aggression on Vukovar, the Water Tower was one of the most common targets for enemy artillery which caused over 600 points of damage and today it represents a symbol of victory and new life. The structure will not be restored to its original function, instead it will become a memorial to remind about the suffering and pain lived through by the City of Vukovar.
Church of Saint Nikolaj
Parochial Orthodox Church of Saint Nikolaj was built in a period from 1733 to 1737, with the elements of provincial baroque. The iconostasis was placed in 1757 and the carvings were made by Firtler, a sculptor from Osijek. The church was expanded and renovated several times to accommodate the addition of the chapel of Saint Georgije the Great Martyr, the expanded choir for the Serbian Singing Society Javor and similar. The last significant modification dates from 1935. The tower next to the choir houses a room where church books and old office files have been kept from 1732 onward.