Tvrđa

Tvrđa
An eighteenth-century complex of cobbled streets, grandiose buildings and open squares, Tvrđa (“Citadel”) is the best-preserved ensemble of Baroque buildings anywhere in Croatia. It began life in 1687, when Habsburg armies kicked Ottoman forces out of Osijek and decided to turn the town into the military nerve-centre of eastern Slavonia. Austrian engineers demolished most of the existing buildings, moved the city center westwards to today’s Gornji Grad, and spent the next 35 years building a planned settlement comprising barracks, staff headquarters, churches and monasteries, all surrounded by a state-of-the-art system of moats, bastions and gun positions. Most of the outer fortifications have long since been demolished, but the heart of the Tvrđa still survives in its original form.
At the centre of Tvrđa is Trg svetog Trojstva (Holy Trinity Square), a broad traffic-free expanse dominated on the northern side by a monumental three-storey building that once housed the Habsburg high command. On the western side, the arcaded house with a spindly lookout tower originally accommodated Osijek’s town guard. Stretching either side of the square is a grid-plan of streets, each lined with elegant ochre-colored buildings where Austrian bureaucrats once toiled over their military plans. A zig-zagging stretch of the outer fortifications still survives on the northeastern edge of Tvrđa. Head down the street Fakultetska to find the Water Gate (Vodena vrata), one of the last surviving fortress gates, which leads through to the grass-fringed banks of the River Drava.

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