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  • Day22

    Osijek

    July 1, 2016 in Croatia ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Back on the bus to visit Tvrda a military and civil complex which was completed in 1697 by the Habsburgs after they took the region back from the Ottomans.

    Development of the military settlement at Tvrđa started in 1687 when the Habsburg armies drove the Ottomans out of the city during the Great Turkish War.

    The town magistrate was established in 1690, while the plans for the new fort were still being drawn up, and one of its documents from August of the same year described the condition of the settlement as horrible. Two months later, on 29 October, the Ottoman army suddenly attacked again to no avail . Turks withdrew on 6 November, after a brief siege.The event made it clear the construction of the fort must not be delayed any further.The first phase of Tvrda's conversion into a Baroque fortress was based on the plan devised by the engineer Mathias von Kaiserfeld from 1691.

    Second layout in 18th century.

    The original plan for Tvrđa was drafted because of the need to reinforce the town walls, but did not include provisions to redesign the interior and envisaged largely uncontrolled development. New plans for a fort on the right bank of the River Drava were drawn up by Maximilian Gosseau de Henef. Gosseau took over planning of the fort when construction was already under way.Starting in August 1712, Austrian engineers, supervised by the fort's commander, General Johann Stephan von Beckers, built barracks, staff headquarters, churches and monasteries, surrounded by system of moats, bastions and gun positions, respecting Gosseau's design.The design followed the model of lowland Dutch military fortifications of the period.

    By 1715, all five planned bastions and two gates were complete. An additional, western, gate leading to the Upper Town was added in 1716. The completed fort had "eight bastions, two armories, two major depots, garrison headquarters, military court, construction office, garrison physician, guardhouse, officer apartments, military hospital and seven barracks. Based on the 'ring model', the fortifications took up an area of 80 hectares making Tvrđa the largest fortress on the border.

    After the fortress's military importance decreased at the end of the 19th century, Tvrđa became a center of administrative, educational, cultural, and scholarly life in Osijek and the entire region. The first school in Osijek was organized at Tvrđa; the first scholarly curriculum was introduced in 1707, to be later expanded and renewed, and the first printing press started working in 1735. The significance of educational institutions of Tvrđa are best underlined by the fact that Croatian Nobel Prize laureates, Lavoslav Ružička and Vladimir Prelog, along with Serbian scientist Milutin Milanković (Milankovitch cycles), were all alumni of the Tvrđa schools.

    Most of the fort walls and fortifications were destroyed in the 1920s. While the fortifications have largely been removed, the fort's interior core remains intact and is now home to churches, museums, schools and other public buildings, as well as numerous bars and restaurants.

    Of the fortification system, only the northern side of the walls now remain intact, as well as parts of the first and eighth bastions along with the northern gate known as the water gate. Tvrđa sustained significant damage during the Croatian War of Independence.
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