Vukovar (pronounced [ʋûkoʋaːr]; Serbian Cyrillic: Вуковар, Hungarian: Vukovár, German: Wukowar) is a city in Croatia, in the eastern regions of Syrmia and Slavonia. It contains Croatia's largest river port, located at the confluence of the Vuka and the Danube. Vukovar is the seat of Vukovar-Syrmia County and the second largest city in the county after Vinkovci. The city's registered population was 22,616 in the 2021 census, with a total of 23,536 in the municipality.[3]

Grad Vukovar
City of Vukovar
Clockwise, from top: Eltz Manor; Vukovar water tower; Dudik Memorial Park; view of the Vukovar from the Danube river; Franciscan monastery with church of Saints Philip and James and Republic of Croatia square on the Vuka River with Town Hall and Workers' Hall
Flag of Vukovar
Coat of arms of Vukovar
Grad Heroj (Hero City)
Location of Vukovar Municipality
Location of Vukovar Municipality
Vukovar is located in Vukovar-Syrmia County
Location of Vukovar within Croatia
Vukovar is located in Croatia
Vukovar (Croatia)
Coordinates: 45°20′40″N 19°00′09″E / 45.34444°N 19.00250°E / 45.34444; 19.00250
Country Croatia
County Vukovar-Syrmia
 • MayorIvan Penava (DP)
 • City Council
19 members
 • City100.1 km2 (38.6 sq mi)
 • Urban
61.6 km2 (23.8 sq mi)
108 m (354 ft)
 • City23,175
 • Density230/km2 (600/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density360/km2 (940/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Vukovarac (masculine)
Vukovarka (feminine)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
32 000
Area code032
Vehicle registrationVU

Name edit

The name Vukovar means 'town on the Vuka River' (Vuko from the Vuka River, and vár from the Hungarian word for 'fortress'). The river was called "Ulca" in antiquity, probably from an Illyrian language. Its name might be related to the name of the river "Volga".[4] In other languages, the city in German is known as Wukowar and in Hungarian as Vukovár or Valkóvár. In the late 17th century, the medieval Croatian name Vukovo was supplanted by the Hungarian Vukovár.[5]

In the Middle Ages, Vukovar was the seat of the great Vukovo County, which was first mentioned in 1220 as "Comitatus de Wolcou". On the right bank of the Vuka was the royal fortress castrum Walkow. A settlement developed in its suburb (suburbium), which was granted the privileges of a free royal city in 1231 by Duke Slavonia Koloman. Until the XIV century, the city was recorded in documents as Walco, Vlcou, Volkow, Walko, Wlkoy, and then the Hungarian variant of the city's name – Wolcowar (for the first time in 1323) was mentioned more and more often. Since 1691, the town has been developing on the right bank of the Vuka, initially under the name Vukovarski otok (Insula Vukovariensis); since then, the Hungarian name Vukovar has supplanted the medieval Croatian name of the city. [6] [7]

Municipal area edit

The administrative municipal area of the city contains the following settlements:[3]

In SFR Yugoslavia, the municipalities were generally larger, and the Vukovar municipality spanned the region from Vera and Borovo in the north, Ilok in the east and Tovarnik in the south, but it has since been divided into several municipalities.

Historically, Vukovar was divided into the Old Vukovar, New Vukovar and former workers' Bata village with Bata Shoes (now Borovo) factory, today known as the Vukovar suburb Borovo Naselje.

Geography edit

Vukovar is located in the Eastern part of Croatia and is the centre of the Vukovar-Syrmia County defined part of the Pannonian Plain. Its location places it at the border of historical provinces Eastern Slavonia and Western Syrmia.

The city is positioned on important transport routes. Since time immemorial transport routes from the northwest to the southeast were active in the Danube Valley through the Vukovar area.

After steam ships were introduced in the mid-19th century, and with the arrival of present-day tourist ships, Vukovar is connected with Budapest and Vienna upstream and all the way to Romania downstream. The Vukovar harbour is an important import and export station. The Danube has always been and remains the connection of the people of Vukovar with Europe and the world.

Vukovar is located 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Vinkovci and 36 km (22 mi) southeast of Osijek, with an elevation of 108 m (354 ft). Vukovar is located on the main road D2 Osijek—Vukovar—Ilok and on the Vinkovci—Vukovar railway (and road D55).

The Vučedol Dove, ritual vessel made between 2800 and 2500 BCE, a historical symbol of Vukovar.

History edit

Prehistory edit

The area of Vukovar has been continuously inhabited for five thousand years, which we know based on numerous archaeological sites. The Vučedol culture, which developed in the Vučedol locality, is particularly significant for the Vukovar area. In 1938, the Vučedol dove was found at that location, which later became a symbol of the town. The Vučedol Orion, also found on Vučedol, is equally important and is considered the oldest Indo-European calendar. In the area of Vukovar, there are numerous archaeological sites from the Bronze, Early and Younger Iron Ages, from which we can see the way of life of the Illyrians and Celts, the original inhabitants of the Vukovar area. During the last decades of BC, the Romans reached the Danube in their conquests and built many forts on the border (the so-called Danube limes) as a protection against the barbarian tribes.

The Romans influenced the economy of the Vukovar region because they planted the first vineyards and drained the swamps.[8] One Scordisci archaeological site in Vukovar dating back to late La Tène culture was excavated in the 1970s and 1980s as a part of rescue excavations in eastern Croatia.[9] Archaeological site was a part of the settlement network of Scordisci in the area of Vinkovci.[9]

Early history edit

Map of the Indo-European Vučedol culture with epicenter in Vukovar, 3000–2400 BC.

The history of today's Vukovar begins very early, according to archaeological data.[10] Slavic tribes settled in this area in the 6th century. In the 9th century the region was part of the Slavic Principality of Lower Pannonia ruled by prince Pribina, and part of the Bulgarian Empire. In the first half of the 10th century, the Vukovo fortress was looted by the Hungarians.[10] In the 11th–12th century, the region was part of the Kingdom of Croatia; from the 13th to 16th century part of the Kingdom of Hungary; and between 1526 and 1687[11] under Ottoman rule.

Vukovar was mentioned first in the 13th century as Volko, Walk, Wolkov (original Croatian/Slavic name of the town was Vukovo). In 1231, Vukovo obtained its first privileges and later the right to levy taxes on passages along the Danube and the Vuka.[12] In 1231, Vukovar received the status of a royal free city. The charter of Duke Koloman confirmed the privileges that protected the people of Vukovar.[10] During administration of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, the town was a seat of Valkó (Croatian: Vuka) county, which was located between the Drava and Sava rivers, while during Ottoman administration it was part of the Sanjak of Syrmia. The Turkish rule brought great changes to the Vukovar region. On their campaign in 1526, the Turks occupied Ilok and Vukovar. Vukovar lost its significance, but still remained an important trade center on an important trade route. Before liberation from the Turks, Vukovar had close to 3,000 inhabitants.[10]

Habsburg Monarchy edit

Vukovar seen from the Danube river 1917.
Vukovar panoramic view 1912.
Vukovar in Austria-Hungary, Franz Joseph I street

After the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699, Vukovar was part of the Habsburg monarchy, Slavonia (Transleithania after the compromise of 1867), and soon after in the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, created when the Kingdom of Slavonia and the Kingdom of Croatia were merged in 1868.

Vukovar was left with an almost empty town, with only about fifty houses. The indigenous population is returning to the devastated area, as well as new residents. Because of the need for labor, Orthodox Serbs are settling. In the 18th and 19th centuries, a considerable number of Germans, Hungarians, Jews, Ruthenians, Slovaks and Ukrainians arrived. Thus, Vukovar becomes a multinational city.[10]

After the end of the Ottoman domination (in the 16th and 17th centuries), the German Counts of Eltz bought a large part of the Vukovar area which was known as the Lordship of Vukovar and for the next two centuries they would have a great influence on the economy and culture of Vukovar.[8]

Counts Eltz, German nobility, come into possession of the manor in Vukovar. Philip Karl Eltz, Archbishop of Mainz, in 1736 buys this huge property with more than 30 inhabited places.

At the beginning of this period, almost half of the inhabitants of Vukovar were craftsmen and merchants. Crafts, trade, shipbuilding are developing. Goods are shipped to the Danube countries by ship. Numerous guild organizations were founded to protect craftsmen. Vukovar is the main center of trade for the entire western Srijem.

The Vukovar area has very good conditions for agriculture. Almost 80% of the population lived from agriculture. In addition to basic grain production, viticulture is also important, and horse studs are also famous.

Since 1840, Vukovar has had permanent steamboat lines on the Danube, and since 1878 it has been connected to the railway. The port of Vukovar is the largest port in Croatia. The industry developed slowly due to lack of capital.

According to the population census from 1900, Vukovar has 10,400 inhabitants, including about 4,000 Croats, 3,500 Germans, about 1,600 Serbs, 950 Hungarians, etc.[10] In 1905, the first major industrial enterprise, the spinning mill, began operating in Vukovar.[10]

In 1745, Vukovar became the seat of the Syrmia County of the Kingdom of Slavonia and from 1868 Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia.[8]

Kingdom of Yugoslavia edit

Second congress of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in Workers' Hall, Vukovar, 1920
Standard Bata factories and housing at Borovo Naselje, Vukovar borough 1941.

In 1918, Vukovar became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Yugoslavia in 1929). Between 1918 and 1922, Vukovar was the administrative seat of the county of Syrmia (Srijem), and between 1922 and 1929 it was the administrative seat of Syrmia Oblast. Despite the status of administrative center the settlement will get the city status only on 23 November 1919 by the decision of regent of the new state Peter I of Serbia.[13] After the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and in the wake of communism gaining popularity throughout Europe, Vukovar became the location of the 2nd congress of the Socialist Labor Party of Yugoslavia (Communists) (Socijalistička radnička partija Jugoslavije – komunista), where it was renamed the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (Komunistička partija Jugoslavije). In 1920, ahead of the local elections, the Jewish Party was established in the town while Zionist Association was founded in 1926.[14] After 1929, Vukovar was part of the Sava Banovina, and beginning in 1939 it was part of the Banovina of Croatia. Part of the Serb community in the town and neighbouring villages was dissatisfied with the inclusion in the new autonomous Banovina leading them to present their disagreement in the 1939 Vukovar resolution.

The interwar period in Vukovar was marked with a significant growth of the shoe and textile industry that began operating in the town, including the shoe factory Bata in 1931, which was later renamed Borovo. This consequently led to a population growth–according to the 1948 census, Vukovar had over 17,000 inhabitants.[10]

World War II edit

Dudik Memorial Park

Between 1941 and 1944, Vukovar was part of the Independent State of Croatia. During World War II the city was bombed by the Allies. The first Yugoslav Partisans uprising in the district (kotar) of Vukovar happened on 26 August 1941 in the village of Bobota with subsequent continued dominant role of ethnic Serbs in the uprising who will constitute 75% of Yugoslav Partisans in the area as of late 1943.[15] Today, Dudik Memorial Park commemorates 455 individuals who were executed by the authorities of the Independent State of Croatia during the World War II in Yugoslavia.[16] The monument at the Dudik Memorial Park, built from 1978 to 1980, is designed by Bogdan Bogdanović, for which he won the International Piranesi Award.[17] In 2008 an unexploded bomb was found in the city from this period.[18]

SFR Yugoslavia edit

Between 1945 and 1991, Vukovar was part of the Socialist Republic of Croatia within the new Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During this period Vukovar developed into a multicultural community and an important industrial centre with a standard of living among the highest in Yugoslavia.[19] One of the symbols of this industrialization was the Borovo company with over 22,000 employees in late 1980s.[19] The company already reached its prewar employment levels in 1949, with the number of employees growing to 5,215 in 1955 and 10,572 in 1965, many of whom were from surrounding villages as well as from the rest of Slavonia, Vojvodina and other parts of Yugoslavia.[20] Separate production sites were open in Prijedor, Sombor, Donji Miholjac, Odžak and Lovas with 622 shops all around the country.[21] At its peak, the company contributed 3/4 of the municipal tax revenue.[22] Following the 1970s energy crisis the company started producing for other companies in the world including for Puma in 1979.[23]

Vukovar water tower, one of the national symbols of Croatian War of Independence

As the economic crisis in the country deepened workers from Borovo started their first strike action, which lasted between 19 and 24 August 1987.[24] The "Large Strike" (Serbo-Croatian: Veliki štrajk) started on 2 July 1988 with daily rallies at the Republic Square in front of the Workers’ Hall.[25] On evening of 5 July 1988 a group of workers decided to travel to Belgrade to share their dissatisfaction with the federal institutions, with formal union buses and trucks joining this action once the initial group already reached Tovarnik.[26] At 3 am next day a group of 1,500 workers arrived at the Dom Sindikata where they kept trying to present their case until 9 am, to no avail. They decided to move their action to the nearby building of the Parliament of Yugoslavia afterwards.[26] After nobody addressed them for hours the group decided to push through the police cordons and to enter the building of parliament while singing "Druže Tito, da ti je ustati, pa da vidiš kako narod pati" (Comrade Tito if only you could raise and see how the people suffer).[27] They stayed in the building until 5 pm, meeting with the President of the Presidency from SR Croatia Ivo Latin, president of the Trade Union of Yugoslavia Marjan Orožen and the President of the Assembly Dušan Popovski. After that, they returned to Dom Sindikata from where they returned to Vukovar late at night.[28]

Croatian War of Independence edit

The conflict between Serbs and Croats spread to eastern Slavonia in early 1991. On 1 April, Serb villagers around Vukovar and other towns in eastern Slavonia began to erect barricades across main roads.[29] The White Eagles, a Serbian paramilitary group led by Vojislav Šešelj, moved into the Serb-populated village of Borovo Selo just north of Vukovar.[30] On 2 May in Battle of Borovo Selo, Serb paramilitaries ambushed two Croatian police buses in the centre of Borovo Selo, killing 12 policemen and injuring 22 more.[29] One Serb paramilitary was also killed.[31]

National Memorial Cemetery of The Victims of Homeland War in Vukovar, the central place of holding the National Remembrance Day, public holiday on November 18, for all the victims of the war in Croatia and the Vukovar massacre, one of the symbolic and crucial events in the Croatian War of Independence 1991.

On 19 May 1991, a Croatian nationwide referendum on sovereignty was held in which 94% voted in favor. Violence in and around Vukovar worsened after the independence referendum, with gun and bomb attacks reported in the town and surrounding villages in June 1991.[32]Borovo Naselje, the Croatian-held northern suburb of Vukovar, sustained a significant shelling on 4 July.[33] Serb paramilitaries expelled thousands of non-Serbs from their homes in the municipality.[34]

In the summer of 1991, Tomislav Merčep, at the time a leading official in the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Secretary of People's Defense, was put in charge of the town. Ethnic Serbs in Vukovar were subjected to forced interrogations, kidnappings and summary executions in addition to having their homes and cafes blown up.[35] NGOs in the city state that a total of 86 Serbs were killed or disappeared during Merčep's control of the town.[35] Serbs have long voiced their concerns about the crimes committed against them in the months before the JNA took over the town after its fall in November of that year and the lack of accountability for the perpetrators.[35][36] The matter has remained unresolved, with Merčep only being sentenced in 2017 for crimes committed by his units elsewhere. He died in November 2020.

The Battle of Vukovar began on 25 August 1991 and lasted until 18 November 1991. During the battle for the town, 1,800 self-organised lightly armed defenders and civilian volunteers (the army of Croatia was still in its infancy at this time) defended the city for 87 days against approximately 36,000 troops of the Serb-dominated JNA equipped with heavy armour and artillery who lost 110 vehicles and tanks and dozens of planes during the battle. The city suffered heavy damage during the siege and was eventually overrun. It is estimated that 1,800 defenders of Vukovar and civilians were killed, 800 went missing and 22,000 civilians were forced into exile.[37] Several war crimes were committed by Serb forces after the battle, including the Vukovar massacre of up to 264 wounded patients and medical staff, taken from the Vukovar hospital.[38]

The damage to Vukovar during the siege has been called the worst in Europe since World War II, drawing comparisons with Stalingrad.[39][40] The city's water tower, riddled with bullet holes, was retained by city planners to serve as a testimony to the events of the early 1990s.

On 18 November 2006 approximately 25,000 people from all over the country gathered in Vukovar for the 15th anniversary of the fall of the city to commemorate those who were killed during the siege. A museum dedicated to the siege was opened in the basement of a now rebuilt hospital that had been damaged during the battle.[41]

On 27 September 2007 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted two former JNA officers, Mile Mrkšić and Veselin Šljivančanin, for their involvement in the Vukovar massacre.[42] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia's last remaining fugitive,[43] Goran Hadžić, was captured by Serbian authorities in 2011.[44] Hadžić was indicted on 14 counts, including multiple related to Vukovar.[45] The charges included criminal involvement in the "deportation or forcible transfer of tens of thousands of Croat and other non-Serb civilians" from Croatian territory between June 1991 and December 1993, including 20,000 from Vukovar; the forced labour of detainees; the "extermination or murder of hundreds of Croat and other non-Serb civilians" in ten Croatian towns and villages including Vukovar; and the "torture, beatings and killings of detainees", including 264 victims seized from Vukovar Hospital.[46][47] His trial was abandoned in 2014 after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer; he died two years later at the age of 57.

Characteristic townhouses with vaults in the main city street.

Vukovar under Serb control and subsequent UNTAES administration edit

The battle exhausted the JNA and proved a turning point in the Croatian War of Independence. A ceasefire was declared a few weeks later. Vukovar served as de facto seat of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous Oblast SAO Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia, the entity which joined the separatist self-declared proto-state Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) in 1992 as an exclave. Vojislav Stanimirović served as a mayor of Vukovar at that time. Croat refugees from the town were located at refugee centers around the country and the community published the Vukovarske Novine (Vukovar Newspaper) outside of the town.[48]

Part of the main city street before the reconstruction of buildings damaged in war and the Serbian occupation of the city.

When the main portion of the RSK was defeated in 1995 Operation Storm the new agreement was reached for peaceful settlement of the conflict in Vukovar and the rest of Croatian Podunavlje area known as the Erdut Agreement. By 1996, Vukovar became demilitarised after local Serb units demobilised and transferred their heavy weapons across the border to Yugoslavia.[49] The agreement led to the establishment of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) which effectively governed the region from its seat in Vukovar until 1998 when the region was fully reintegrated into Croatia. UNTAES headquarters were initially located at the United Nations Protection Force headquarters in Zagreb but the idea of priority of the administration was to move it to eastern Croatia.[50] Croatian Government offered Osijek for that purpose but the administration refused it since it wanted to locate it on the territory under its control leading to selection of Vukovar.[50] United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Vukovar in early 1996 to express her support to the process of reintegration where she was attacked by the Serbian population with eggs and stones at the local market.[51] UNTAES facilitated reintegration by gradual transition and invitation of Croatian officials so that in late 1996 President of Croatia Franjo Tuđman visited Vukovar for the first time where he participated in the meeting between Serb and Croat delegation.[52] President Tuđman visited Vukovar again on 8 June 1997 in what was known as the Train of Peace.

As a result of the conflict, a deep ethnic divide exists between the Croat and Serb populations. OSCE Mission to Croatia was active in Vukovar and surrounding areas until 2007.

Demographics edit

Historical population
of Vukovar
1857 8,162—    
1869 9,453+15.8%
1880 10,234+8.3%
1890 11,205+9.5%
1900 11,557+3.1%
1910 12,149+5.1%
1921 12,116−0.3%
1931 12,738+5.1%
1948 18,994+49.1%
1953 20,616+8.5%
1961 25,763+25.0%
1971 38,830+50.7%
1981 41,959+8.1%
1991 46,735+11.4%
2001 31,670−32.2%
2011 27,683−12.6%
2021 23,536−15.0%
Source: Naselja i stanovništvo Republike Hrvatske 1857–2001, DZS, Zagreb, 2005 & Popis stanovništva 2011
Center of Vukovar seen from the Danube river.

In the years from 1948 until 1991 Vukovar's population increased quickly due to industrial development. Primarily it was immigration that fed the growth in the Vukovar region and in the town particularly. The region's population distribution changed notably too when the town of Ilok became the second largest town in the region.

City of Vukovar: Population trends 1857–2021

The most significant change was the forced displacement and internment of the German civilian population after World War II. The confiscated houses and properties were given to Croat and Serb colonists during the years of Socialist Yugoslavia.[citation needed]

National structure of the population of Vukovar:[53][54][55]
Year Total Croats Serbs Germans Hungarians Others
2021 23,536 14,605 63.02% 6,890 29.73% 45 0.19% 220 0.95% 1,776 7.55%
2011 27,683 15,881 57.37% 9,654 34.87% 58 0.21% 347 1.25% 1,743 6.30%
2001 31,670 18,199 57.5% 10,412 32.9% 58 0.2% 387 1.2% 2,614 8.3%
1990 44,639 21,065 47.2% 14,425 32.3% 94 0.2% 694 1.5% 8,361 18.8%
1971 30,222 14,694 48.6% 9,132 30.2% 60 0.2% 835 2.8% 5,501 18.2%
1948 17,223 10,943 63.5% 4,390 25.5% 54 0.3% 913 5.3% 923 5.3%
1931 10,242 5,048 49.6% 1,702 16.6% 2,670 26.1% 571 5.6% 215 2.0%
1910 10,359 4,092 39.5% 1,628 15.7% 3,503 33.8% 954 9.2% 183 1.8%
National structure of the population in the municipality of Vukovar:[clarification needed]
Year of census total Croats Serbs Others
2001 31,670 18,199 (57.46%) 10,412 (32.88%) 3,059 (9.66%)
1991 84,024 36,910 (43.93%) 31,910 (37.98%) 15,204 (18.09%)
1981 81,203 30,157 (37.14%) 25,146 (30.97%) 25,903 (31.89%)
1971 76,602 34,629 (45.21%) 28,470 (37.17%) 13,593 (17.09%)
1961 54,707 24,527 (44.83%) 22,774 (41.63%) 7,406 (13.54%)

The Croats were in the majority in most villages and in the region's eastern part, whereas the Serbs dominated in the northwest. Vukovar's population was ethnically mixed and had 28 ethnic groups before the war. Since the boundaries of the municipality have changed a few times, there are significant differences in the population census between 1961 and 1971, and 1991 and 2001.

Franciscan monastery with Church of Saints Philip and James

Particularly since the war in Croatia, much of the native Croat population has moved to other areas of Croatia or emigrated to Western Europe (notably Germany or Austria) and many Serbs have either moved to Serbia or to Canada and Western Europe.

Fifteen years after the war, in 2006, the city's ethnic makeup showed equal percentages of Croat and Serb residents.[56] The city remains very divided, as a deeper sense of reconciliation has failed to take root. The ethnic communities remain separated by mistrust, divided institutions and disappointment. Separate schooling for Croat and Serb children remains in place. Incidents involving Croats and Serbs occur regularly, and public spaces have become identified not by the services they offer but by the ethnicity of those who gather there. Even coffee shops are identified as Croat or Serb.[57]

In 2013, the government's intention to implement in Vukovar the Constitutional Law on the Rights of Ethnic Minorities in Croatia that allowed for minorities, where they made up more than a third of a city's population, to be entitled to have their language used for official purposes,[58] provoked considerable popular opposition.[citation needed]

Minority languages edit

Neogothic Paunović Family Mausoleum.

According to the 2011 Croatian census, the Serb population of the city has exceeded one third, which is the legal prerequisite for the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet to gain constitutionally protected co-official status. In 2013, this re-ignited political discussion on the matter, which had already arisen in 2009 after the local promulgation of Serbian Cyrillic as available for public use.[59] According to the 2021 census, Serbs make up less than one third which removes constitutional guarantees on the official status of Serbian Cyrillic in the town.[60] Croatian law, however, explicitly permits[61] local authorities to introduce co-official languages even when there is less than one third of minority population (notably, but not exclusively, Istria County[61]) with domestic and internal stakeholders calling upon the town of Vukovar to consider this option even before 2011 census.[62] Following the publication of 2021 census results, mayor of Vukovar nevertheless announced intention to scrap the minority language protections with some commentators criticizing the abolition of already acquired rights including the President of the Constitutional Court of Croatia Miroslav Šeparović.[63]

Cultural heritage edit

Among a number of notable buildings, severely damaged in the recent war, are the Eltz Manor of the Eltz noble family from the 18th century, Baroque buildings in the centre of the town, the Franciscan monastery with the parish church of Sts. Philip and James, the water tower, the birth house of Nobel prize winner Lavoslav Ružička, the Orthodox church of St Nicholas, the palace of Syrmia County etc. Since the peaceful reintegration under Croatian control in 1998, many buildings have been rebuilt, but there are many ruins still in the town.

Outside the town, on the banks of the Danube toward Ilok, lies a notable archaeological site, Vučedol. The ritual vessel called the Vučedol Dove (vučedolska golubica) is considered the symbol of Vukovar. Vučedol is also an excursion destination, frequented by anglers and bathers, especially the sandy beach on Orlov Otok (Eagle's Island).[citation needed]

Vukovar Synagogue was built in 1889, and was devastated by the Nazis in 1941. The ruins stood until they were demolished in 1958.

Politics edit

Local Government edit

The Town Hall.
Palača pravde – Palace of justice, the County Court in Vukovar
Square of the Republic Croatia seen from the Vuka river.

Following the 2021 Croatian local elections the Assembly of the City of Vukovar is composed of 19 elected representatives.[64] Out of a total of 23,138 eligible voters 11,160 or 48.23% participated in the elections and there were 10,808 or 96.85% valid ballots.[64] Right wing Ivan Penava's Independent List got 4,516 or 41.78% ballots and 9 elected representatives, Croatian Democratic Union got 2,347 or 21.71% ballots and 5 elected representatives, Independent Democratic Serb Party got 1,222 ballots or 11.30% and 2 elected representatives, former Social-Democrat major Želko Sabo's Independent List got 712 or 6.58% ballots and 1 elected representative, Democratic Alliance of Serbs got 631 or 5.83% ballots and 1 elected representative, coalition of the Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats, Croatian Peasant Party, Croatian Social Liberal Party and Active Independent Pensioners got 599 or 5.54% ballots and 1 elected representative.[64] Parties which failed to reach 5% of votes required for allocation of seats in the City Assembly were the Social Democratic Party of Croatia with 3.91%, Serb politician Dragan Crnogorac's Independent List with 1.72% and Pavao Josić's Independent List with 1.59%.[64]

The mayor of Vukovar was elected in the second round of the elections after nobody among 5 candidates received over 50% of votes.[64] In the second round right wing candidate Ivan Penava was elected with 5,392 votes, while losing candidate from the Croatian Democratic Union Nikola Mažar got 4,529 votes.[64] Deputy Mayor from the Serbs of Vukovar community was elected in the first round with Independent Democratic Serb Party's candidate Srđan Kolar receiving 1,128 votes and the losing candidate from the Democratic Alliance of Serbs Srđan Milaković receiving 781 vote.[64]

Summary of the 2021 Croatian local elections for the City Assembly
Party Votes % Seats
Ivan Penava's Independent List 4,516 41.78 9
Croatian Democratic Union 2,347 21.71 5
Independent Democratic Serb Party 1,222 11.30 2
Željko Sabo's Independent List 712 6.58 1
Democratic Alliance of Serbs 631 5.83 1
Croatian People's Party – Liberal Democrats
Croatian Peasant Party
Croatian Social Liberal Party
Active Independent Pensioners
599 5.54 1
Social Democratic Party of Croatia 423 3.91 0
Independent politician Dragan Crnogorac's list 186 1.72 0
Pavao Josić's List 172 1.59 0
Invalid/blank votes 352 3.15
Total 11,160 100
Registered voters/turnout 23,138 48,23
Source[64](in Croatian)

Institutions edit

Workers' Hall, Vukovar
Palace of Syrmia County, seat of the Vukovar-Syrmia County

Vukovar is the seat of several local organisations and institutions such as Vukovar-Syrmia County, Polytechnic Lavoslav Ružička Vukovar, Gymnasium Vukovar, etc. It is also the seat of several organisations and institutions of the Serb minority in Croatia such as the Joint Council of Municipalities, the Association for Serbian language and literature in the Republic of Croatia, the Independent Democratic Serb Party, the Party of Danube Serbs as well as the seat of the Consulate General of Republic of Serbia in Vukovar.

Minority councils and representatives edit

Directly elected minority councils and representatives are tasked with consulting tasks for the local or regional authorities in which they are advocating for minority rights and interests, integration into public life and participation in the management of local affairs.[65] At the 2023 Croatian national minorities councils and representatives elections Hungarians, Pannonian Rusyns and Serbs of Vukovar fulfilled legal requirements to elect 15 members minority councils of the City of Vukovar while Ukrainians of Croatia elected their individual representative.[66]

Museums edit

Vukovar Municipal Museum edit

Vukovar Municipal Museum[67] was founded in 1948 by a donation of Roman money, furniture, weapons, and paintings given to his city by Dr. Antun Bauer. The museum started in the Coach Post Building in the old baroque centre, but was moved to Castle Eltz in 1966. Up until 1991 the museum had about 50 thousand exhibits in four separate divisions:

The Heritage Museum displayed the history of Vukovar from prehistory to modern times and some of its most important collections included the items excavated at the archaeological site Vučedol and the Culture and History Collection, which contained documents, furniture, and pieces of art, and provided an authentic display of the life of the citizens of Vukovar and the Eltz family.

For its work on the cultural restoration of Vukovar, revitalizing the devastated city and involving the local community in its work, the Vukovar Municipal Museum received the prestigious European Silletto award – EMYA 2016, awarded by the European Museum Forum in San Sebastian, Spain.[68]

Bauer Collection and Art Gallery contained the most complete overview of modern Croatian art from the end of the 19th and the early 20th century with special emphasis on the period between the two world wars. Among more than one thousand pieces of art the Collection contained the works of Vlaho Bukovac, Mato Celestin Medović, Ico Kršnjavi, Ivan Meštrović, Fran Kršinić, Emanuel Vidović, and many others.

Castle Eltz, today's Vukovar Municipal Museum, was the main residence of the German Rhenish dynasty Eltz until 1944.
Bauer Gallery on the banks of the Danube with the Old Red Water Tower, the oldest of the 3 Vukovar Water Towers.

Memorial Museum of the Nobel Prize Winner Lavoslav Ružička, located in the house where he was born, it displayed original documents and medals from the life and work of the Nobel Prize winner, who received this prestigious award in 1939 for chemistry.

Memorial Museum of the 2nd Congress of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia was located in the Workers' Hall building, former Grand Hotel, where the congress was held in 1920. The materials connected to the development of the labour movement and the founding of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia was exhibited and presented here.

During Croatian War of Independence, Castle Eltz suffered significant damage and the collections which were kept there were also damaged: some of the exhibits were completely destroyed, some have disappeared and cannot be recovered, and some of them were taken to Serbia. After years of effort and diplomatic activity by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia that part of the collection was returned to Vukovar on 13 December 2001. In the period from 1991 to 1997 the Vukovar City Museum was operating in the Mimara Museum in Zagreb.

Near the end of 1992 a collection was founded with the name Vukovar Museum in Exile which began the creation of a collection of donations by Croatian, and soon after also European, artists for the City of Vukovar. To this day that collection has gathered over 1400 pieces of modern Croatian and European art. This collection represented the beginning of the cultural restoration of Vukovar and it is displayed at the restored Castle Eltz today, along with other museum collections which are part of the permanent collection of the museum.

Now that it is renovated, the Castle Eltz complex represents a unique museum and gallery , science, and multimedia centre, which preserves and presents cultural heritage as an element of national identity and the continuity of life in this area.

In 2013 the Vukovar City Museum won a prestigious Anton Štifanić Award for special contributions to the development of tourism in the Republic of Croatia and in 2014 won the Simply the Best award.

Vučedol Culture Museum edit

The Vučedol Culture Museum and Archaeological Site bears testimony to one of the earliest Indo-European cultures. In 2022 museum was the winner of the prestigious European "Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism" award.[69]

[70] is open on the tenth of June 2015. Is one of the most modern museums in Croatia.

The museum is positioned on one side almost at the very Danube riverbank and on the other side, on four floors, in the hill, while its flat green roof is a promenade which leads to the archaeological site. As for the content, the permanent exhibition is displayed in 19 rooms on almost 1200 square metres. In addition to using state of the art technologies, multimedia and interactive content, the way of life on Vučedol culture localities, spreading through 12 European countries, is displayed.

Events edit

In Vukovar during the year there are many cultural events. Certainly the most important is the Danube region Vukovar Film Festival.

  • The Vukovar Film Festival is unique due to many things. It is the only film festival of the community of Danube region countries and the only one held literally on the Danube. It is designed to promote and spread the creative development of filmmakers from the region and it is organised with the intent to contribute to cultural restoration in the city destroyed in the Homeland War. The theme of the festival, the films from the Danube region countries, is logically connected to Vukovar as a centre of the Croatian part of the community of the Danube region. Cultural influences have always spread along the Danube. Since the Vukovar film festival is the only film festival focused on this region, on the international level it seeks to connect filmmakers from the Danube region countries, whose film making industries are some of the most vital in the world.
    Winter port, Vukovar
  • The Vukovar Chamber music Festival is held in the first half of June at the area of Castle Eltz, the Chapel of Saint Rok, and the Church of Saint Filip and Jakov in Vukovar, and it traditionally starts with a concert by the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. The guests of the festival are solo performers and chamber ensembles from Croatia and Europe.
  • The Vukovar Puppet Spring Festival was founded in 1996 as a national theatre conference. There are around 15 puppet theatres performing every year and in the five days of the festival they give around 100 performances in the towns and municipalities of Vukovarsko-Srijemska County. The centre of the festival is the town of Vukovar where 16 performances are played and where various workshops and an awards ceremony are held (for the award for life achievement in contribution to Croatian puppetry). The festival is held at the same time every year, the week before the Holy Week before Easter. In 2011 there were 16 puppet theatres from Croatia and abroad (Pecs, Mostar) that participated the festival.[71][72]
The mouth of the river Vuka into the Danube
  • Saint Vinko's Day in Vučedol is an event held traditionally every year on 22 January at the Goldschmidt farm grounds. This event marks the beginning of the year's work in the vineyards and it starts with a blessing of the vineyards. Sausages and other cured meat products are hung on the vines, because of a tradition that by hanging large sausages on the vines, the grape vines will be more fruitful and the grape clusters will be large. The same legend claims that if on that day, before noon, icicles or snow melts and creates puddles in which a sparrow can bathe, the year will be fruitful and there will be so much wine that people can bathe in it. Along with an accompanying culture and art programme, this event represents a true vineyard experience, with mulled wine and delicacies that the visitors may taste or prepare for themselves, on the fire.
  • Bonofest is held every year in the middle of May. It is a festival of spiritual music held in the church of Saint Filip and Jakov. The two evenings of the festival feature musicians who were selected by a committee of professionals.[73]
  • The Ethno fair is organised each year by the Vukovar City Tourist Board and takes place in September in the city centre in the "Hotel Grand" building. Various craftsmen, winemakers and other manufacturers sell their handmade products which represent the heritage of this part of Croatia.
  • The Vukovar Advent Festivities start four weeks during Advent during which a series of musical and performance events are organised. Each event is special as the traditional lighting of the candles is performed.
  • Silent night in Vukovar is a traditional Christmas concert of Croatian National Television. It is held during Vukovar's Advent Festivities in the Church of St. Philip and James
  • The Christmas Fair is held a couple of days before Christmas.
  • ‘SVI zaJEDNO HRVATSKO NAJ’, festival of non-material Croatian cultural heritage, held as part of the Vukovar City Day celebration at the beginning of May.[74]

Economy edit

Borovo Naselje, local board, urban settlement 4 km from the Vukovar town center.

Port of Vukovar is situated on 1,335 kilometres (830 miles) of the downstream flow of Danube river, on its right coast, and is the biggest official concessioner in the Vukovar region. The Company focuses its business on the transshipment of general and bulk cargo. The Port (850m long and 45m wide) is conveniently situated on the main current of the river, enabling navigation throughout the whole year regardless of water level. The Port recorded productivity growth and increase in cargo transshipment from 123,570 tons in 2009 to 295,199 tons in 2011. The majority of transshipment was in the category of bulk cargo (237,119 tons in 2011), while packaged goods and heavy cargo accounted for a total of 58,080 tons.

The economy of Vukovar is based on agriculture, trade, viticulture, food industry, textile industry, building materials industry, footwear industry and tourism. Vukovar is the largest Croatian town and river port on the Danube. Its economy is based on trade, farming, viticulture, livestock breeding, textiles, the food-processing industry, the footwear industry and tourism.

Port of Vukovar is Croatia's biggest river port.

However, the port infrastructure in Vukovar, only partly reconstructed, still does not meet the requirements of the market. The layout of the port area, particularly the access to railway tracks and the quay operational area, are technologically inappropriate and not compatible with market standards. There is also a lack of warehouse capacity. Altogether, it affects the quality of the service provided in the Port and thus decreases the port competitiveness.[75]

Borovo, a manufacturer of footwear located in Vukovar, ended up devastated and demolished in 1991 during the war. In its prime it employed 24,000 employees and tried to break into foreign markets with innovations in the manufacture of footwear, but today there are fewer than 1000 employees.

On 7 June 1931, Borovo was founded by Czech industrialist Tomáš Baťa. Borovo Factory was one of the few Bata Shoes factories in the world. In 1933, the production of rubber and technical goods started, and Bata in the gum industry became one of the first companies in the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Between 1947 and the end of the 1980s, Borovo grew into the largest and most economically most powerful company in the production and sale of footwear and rubber in this part of Europe. Borovo Facory produced more than 20 million pair of shoes a year, thousands of tons of auto-rubber and rubber-technical goods, 22,000 people were employed at today's factories with more than 600 stores across the country. This time was marked by the significant export to European and other countries.

The Business Innovation Centre BIC-Vukovar is a rounded concept for the support of innovative, technologically oriented entrepreneurship independent of the size or maturity of the company. The goal of this centre is to attract or provide incentives for the creation and growth of technologically oriented companies in all phases of their life-cycle and provide them with a complete package of services to support their businesses, from workspaces, support for innovations, growth and export, as well as various intellectual and administrative services.[76]

Since the end of the war, much of the infrastructure in Vukovar has remained unrestored and unemployment is estimated to stand at 40 percent.[57] Vukovar is underdeveloped municipality which is statistically classified as the First Category Area of Special State Concern by the Government of Croatia.[77]

Transport edit

Main Vukovar-Borovo Naselje railway station.
The A3 motorway, close to the exit for Vukovar.

Vukovar is located in the northeastern part of the Republic of Croatia (45 ° 20 'north latitude and 16 ° 40' east longitude) and is the seat of the Vukovar-Srijem County. It lies at the mouth of the River Vuka in the Danube River (Luka Vukovar – Rkm 1335) and has a border position on the Danube River towards Serbia in Vojvodina. Due to the particularity of its geographical position, primarily marked by the international waterway – Danube River, Vukovar represents a significant traffic hub of the main roads.

There is a good traffic connection with the neighbouring countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Serbia. Vukovar is 16 km away from the town of Vinkovci, the largest railway hub in Croatia. It is well connected by state road D55 via Vinkovci, 39 km away from the node of Županja on the A3 Zagreb-Lipovac motorway. The 33 km distant Osijek is connected by the state road D2, via which Vukovar is connected to Corridor Vc (motorway A6).

With Osijek Airport, 20 km north–west of Vukovar this area is also included in air traffic.

The city's position is very good for access to other markets within Central and South-Eastern Europe because it is located on or near the following trans-European corridors:

  • Pan-European Transport Corridor VII – River Danube (Luka Vukovar)
  • Osijek Airport -> 16 km away
  • Pan-European Transport Corridor X – railway -> 14 km from Vinkovci hub (largest regional railway hub)
  • Highway A3 -> 42 km away
  • The European route E73 – the A5 and the A5 motorway -> 31 km away

Education and media edit

History and today edit

In accordance with its position in the economic and administrative terms of Vukovar developed in educational, cultural and health centre. For the 1730th Vukovar has developed popular education. From the Franciscan School has developed elementary school in Old Vukovar. New Vukovar has its own school.

Palace Jirkovsky, College of Applied Sciences "Lavoslav Ružička" in Vukovar.

They worked and denominational schools for children and Orthodox Jewish religion, and schools in the German, Serbian orthodox and Hungarian. Apprentice school was established in 1886. year, a gymnasium 1891st.

The first doctor with a diploma has been working in Vukovar since 1763, and the pharmacy was opened in 1791. The first small hospital was opened only in 1857.

Printing was opened in 1867 when they first came out and Vukovar in German newspaper Der Syrmier-Bote.

Vukovar has seven primary schools and five high schools, including one gymnasium (Gymnasium Vukovar) and one music school. The city is also home to the Lavoslav Ružička polytechnic, which offers study opportunities in the fields of economics and trade, law and kinesitherapy. Additionally, the University of Split runs dislocated studies in information technology, economics and law in Vukovar. Similarly, the University of Osijek offers programmes in economics and law.

In the period up to the First World War, about 30 societies were active in Vukovar. Singing, reading, sports and support societies had their own reading rooms, organized concerts and parties. Societies were often organized on a national basis. The first performance in the Croatian language was held in 1821, it was a dramatic work by the guardian of the Franciscan monastery Grga Cevapovic. The most influential Croatian society is the "Dunav" singing society. In 1922, the Croatian Home was opened in Vukovar, a place for all cultural events.[10]

Sport edit

Damir Martin Croatian rower, the double Olympic silver medalist, who was born in Vukovar, already had two World Cup gold medals, winning in 2010 and 2013.

Major sports facilities in the city of Vukovar are: Borovo Sports Hall (capacity 3,000 spectators) opened for maintenance International Table Tennis Championship of Yugoslavia (Borovo 1978),[78] stadium FC Vukovar '91, sport and recreation center "Lijeva Bara" with a hall for martial arts, Borovo naselje Tennis Centre, Sports Centre "Hrgović", with tennis courts and horse riding, firing range, "Hill-7" as well as several football stadiums including Vukovar City Stadium and the FC Vuteks Sloga Stadium.

Currently the most modern swimming pool complex in Croatia is open in March 2017 in Vukovar. Pool complex is located about 5 km from city centre of Vukovar. Available is indoor swimming pool 50 x 25 metres. Also there are two smaller outdoor pools 22x12 metres and 25x12 metres. Inside swimming complex is also fitness room, sauna, dressing rooms, restaurant. Inside same sport complex is also sport hall available for all indoor sports, boxing, gym, fitness, bowling.

Use in popular culture edit

Notable people edit

International relations edit

Foreign representatives edit

Twin towns – sister cities edit

Vukovar is twinned with:[81]

Explanatory notes edit

Citations edit

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General bibliography edit

External links edit