Discover Secret Osijek

Photo by: Horizont Solutions d.o.o./Mario Đurkić

Secret Osijek

Discover hidden gems in Osijek as told by students of I. grammar school in Osijek!

Dumplings hour

“It is best to tell every story from the beginning, including this one, and to do that we have to go back almost 500 years. Better said in the ancient year 1526 on the 14th of August. In Osijek, that day is remembered for the entry of the Ottoman army into the city and their occupation for the next 161 years. The siege lasted until 1687 when the last Ottoman soldier left the city on Friday, September 29 at 11 p.m. A reminder of this event, from the 18th century and the church's construction, is the Dumpling Clock, also known as the Mehlspeisen Glock. The dumpling clock is a custom of ringing church bells on Fridays at 11 am, which in the 90s hinted to the housewives that it was time to cook pasta for lunch at noon. The habit took the name Dumplings hour because dumplings were Osijek's favorite dish. The custom was somewhat forgotten over time and was revived in 2016 when the dumplings were made again as a traditional Osijek dish. Today, Osijek dumplings can be found on the menu of some restaurants and hotels with traditional offerings, and you can also taste various dishes made of potato dough and sweet dumplings. According to the zealous proponents of tradition, dumplings should be filled exclusively with homemade Slavonian plums and jam, sprinkled with ground bread flakes, and sugar, and served with sour cream on the side. But in the end, no matter how you prepare, consume, and serve them, you will certainly not be in the wrong.” – Josipa

The tunnels under the Citadel

"Secret tunnels underneath the surface of a very popular tourist location, Tvrđa or the Citadely, date back to the 18th century when the Austro-Hungarian monarchy still ruled over Croatia and the Citadel was being built. It is said that they were built for military purposes, such as transferring the army, weaponry, and food between the objects, as well as the emergency evacuation of the Croatian population. After WWII ended, the Yugoslav People’s Army proclaimed it to be a state secret, and only with the departure of the army from the area of ​​Citadel were researchers given the conditions for the first exploration of the underground canals. The most recent research on the tunnels was in 2012. when Đorđe Balić and his team went into the canals themselves. They concluded that eight tunnels connect under the Plague Saw on the Holy Trinity Square. Since the entire Tvrđa underground is connected by tunnels and allows escape on all sides,it is only logical that the tunnels are connected to the other side of the Drava river, or some other parts of the city. What is more, some people claim to have passed through a tunnel under the Drava and reached the catacombs!" – Petra


Jewish cemetery in Osijek

"One of the most mysterious cemeteries in the city of Osijek is certainly the one on Leopold Mandić Street, not far from the city center. It is one of the two Jewish cemeteries in Osijek, established in 1864, just four years after the one at Bikara. The two Jewish cemeteries are an indication that there used to be many Jews in Osijek, and today they are present in small numbers in the total population of the city.

This cemetery is large in area, but not in the number of people buried. It seems mysterious, but also neglected because the descendants of many buried are no longer in Osijek. The interesting thing about the cemetery is that all the graves are facing north, in rows of east-west directions. Monuments to the dead are marked with the names of the dead and dedication texts written in Hebrew, Croatian, and German, along with traditional Jewish iconography. There is also an old abandoned century-old ground floor house, Moorish style, which served as a chapel and morgue. A cypress tree line leads from the entrance to the morgue of the "small synagogue". The mortuary was built in the historicist style in which the Upper Town Synagogue was built, the first synagogue in Osijek, burned during the Holocaust. At the same time, it is the only old city cemetery, about ten of them, where no members of other faiths are buried. This is a cemetery without a single wooden tombstone. In the multitude of monuments, from ordinary stone, through marble obelisks to marble rectangular memorial plaques, the one of the Adler family stands out the most. It was made in the form of an open book by the most famous Osijek and world-famous sculptor Oskar Neumann for his mother's ancestors.

Many prominent people from Osijek were buried in the cemetery, especially doctors, merchants, and many others. Among the most famous are doctors Dr. Schosberger and Dr. Bela Fischer, one of the founders of the Surgical Department of Osijek Hospital, his sons, lawyer Alfred and doctor Otto who is the founder of the first Osijek biochemical laboratory, and his wife Klara, longtime head of the children's dispensary at the Osijek Health Center. The eminent Osijek photographer Nikola Szege, the first nude photographer in Osijek, was also buried there." - Mia


Catacombs and Powdermill

“Located on the northern part of Osijek and the left bank of the river Drava, the catacombs date back to the 18th century. Today, they are a frequent meeting place for many couples. There are certainly the most people there during September during the Days of the first Croatian beer. The Powdermill is right next to the catacombs, it was a part of the defense-military system that emerged in the 18th century after the liberation of Slavonia from the Ottomans. As the name itself indicates, the powder mill was a warehouse of military materials built of thick, impenetrable walls. The military history of this facility did not end after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, but only after the last war, when the mill was on the front line and was again in the function of the military. The whole complex of the catacombs has proven to be a suitable location for multimedia events, ranging from concerts, video projections, and theatrical performances, and recently a short movie was filmed there.” – Filip


"If you walk through the center of Osijek and end up on Županijska Street, you will see the yellow building of the County. There is nothing unusual about it except for one detail that is worth mentioning. A cannonball the size of a few tens of centimeters is half-stuck into the wall of the building. Wondering how it got there? It is assumed that one night in the middle of the 19th century, soldiers accidentally fired a cannonball from the cannons located in the Citadel (the old town). The story goes that the soldiers drank too much alcohol in one of the pubs and then decided to make this not-so-famous move. The cannons in the fortress had not been used since the departure of the Ottomans, so the soldiers wanted to "try" how they work. When they fired the cannonball, it flew more than a mile and crashed into the County building. Luckily, no one was injured, although the cannonball flew toward the very center of the city. It is also interesting that many Osijek residents know neither about this story nor about the wall in which the ball was driven, although they pass by it every day." – Tin


Elephant statue

“There is a small statue of an elephant on the corner of Ribarska Street and Josip Juraj Strossmayer Street. Many wonder why right there and what it symbolizes.  Some assume that it is a symbol of Osijek, some that it is a symbol of happiness, and some claim something completely different.

The first and shorter story tells us that it was placed there during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is said that it was set up by the merchant Ivan Leipzig. The elephant statue was considered to be a symbol of happiness at that time.

The second, and the vastly more popular story is much more interesting. After World War II, the circus came to Osijek. As a promotion and custom, the circus had a parade around the city, and when they reached the corner of Ribarska and Strossmayer streets, the elephant collapsed and died of old age. Then a problem arose because elephants can weigh from two to as much as 6 tons. The elephant fell in the middle of the street, which was also one of the busiest streets in the city. Fortunately, there was a famous butcher's shop run by two brothers. In the middle of the road, they dismembered an elephant to make it easier to remove it. After that, it became "Butcher and the Elephant". The brothers made an elephant statue above their butcher shop and it was their main promotion.

Some say that it was a female elephant and she collapsed during childbirth. The butchers rescued the newborn elephant and received a statue of an elephant for their butcher shop as a reward.” - Tin