Djakovo cathedral is huge and dominates this otherwise low-rise town situated in Slavonian plains. This neo-romanesque building was built between 1862 and 1882 by Viennese architect Frederik Schmidt. For its building 7 millions bricks were used, while the stone decorations were brought here from abroad.
It is interesting to note that the main entrance to the Cathedral faces eastwards, which is a bit unusual for Catholic church. This was done deliberately by Strossmayer as a step towards the dialogue with Eastern churches - primarily Serbian Orthodox church.
Inside the Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral is painted with frescoes showing the scenes from the Old Testament in the main nave and those from the New Testament in the cross nave. Alexander-Maximilian Seitz and his son Ludwig Seitz worked on the most important frescoes. Strossmayer managed to get many artists from abroad who worked on the decorations of the Cathedral, including the painter Ludovico Ansiglioni from Rome. Main altar was done by Viennese Karlo Rosner, finished by Friedrich Schmidt.
The Djakovo Cathedral is fantastic in its context of small provincial town of Djakovo as it shows the strength and vision of one man - bishop Strossmayer, who managed to create here a work of art that goes far beyond the limits of small Slavonian center. It is absolutely out of its context, like it has landed from the Skies.
All Saints Church
The All Saints Church stands on the other side of Korzo and is surely one of the most interesting buildings in Slavonia. As you approach from the side of the Cathedral you notice nice 19th Century Classicist facade, but the real suprise comes as you look at the side facade. Then it is not hard to notice that this was actually originally built as a mosque during the Ottoman rule in Slavonia (1536-1687) - originally this was Hadzi-Pasha's Mosque.
Most other mosques in the area of Slavonia were simply destroyed in attempts of Austrian Empire to erase all traces of Ottoman influence but this mosque survived thanks to the fact that it was turned into a church. Today it shows an interesting mixture of various influences that shaped the history of this area.
Art Nouveau Building
Approximately at the middle of Korzo this two-storey building stands above other low houses that define the street. I don't know any details about it (surprise, surprise - but if anyone is interested I'll find out ;).
It surely adds nice Art Nouveau touch to otherwise not-extremely-interesting architecture of Korzo.
If you want to see locals and be seen then Korzo is a must street to walk up and down several times before settling in one of the lined cafe terraces to have coffee.
This short pedestrian street starts just in front of the Cathedral and features dozens of cafes inviting you to relax and feel the slow and relaxed Slavonian tempo of living.
Bishop's (Strossmayer's) Park
While the bishop's courtyard belongs to bishop's court adjacent Bishop's Park is a public park designed in the 19th Century and protected as the monument of horticulture. It was interesting for me to discover palm trees carefully kept in the middle of Slavonia (that has cold continental climate so palms are not usually seen in this part of Croatia).
Inside the park there is an open air stage where performances are held during the summer months, and especially during the folklore manifestation "Djakovacki vezovi".
Try to take a short peek into the courtyard of the Bishop's court. As usually with this kind of courtyards here we find small garden with peaceful places for reflection in the shades of monumental Cathedral.
Monuments showing old bishops and Popes decorate the lawns and flower beds that are carefully kept tidy.
Next to the Cathedral we find baroque Bishop's Court, built in the 18th century and extended in the 19th century. It proudly stands in the center of Djakovo as one of the most monumental buildings (not counting the Cathedral, of course) causing jealousy of otherwise much larger nearby Osijek that has no bishopry.
Inside the Bishop's Court you can visit several richly decorated rooms with memorabilia of Djakovo's bishops. In the basement there are remains of the old gothic cathedral that stood here previosly.
POS residential building
POS was a nation-wide programme for social housing that was launched in 2000. The programme had strict standards and limited budget. The most important feature in architectural terms was that it always included architectural competitions, giving opportunities to many young architects.
POS building in Djakovo was built in 2003, designed by three young architects - Robert Jonathan Loher, Petar Miskovic and Branimir Rajcic. The L-shaped building has no intentions to fit into its uninspiring surroundings but brings fresh architectural shapes and thoughts in Slavonian province.
Josip Juraj Strossmayer
There is no better place to start sightseeing of Djakovo but in front of the Cathedral, next to the statue of its builder. Here Josip Juraj Strossmayer is shown pointing at its greatest buidling achievement.
Bishop and politician Josip Juraj Strossmayer is known as one of the founders and strongest supporters of the idea of Jugoslavism - which in the late 19th century sounded much better than it sounds now, after the unfortunate 1990s. His idea was that South Slavs should get rid of the domination of its historic conquestors (Austria, Hungary, Italy, Ottoman Empire) and live in pollitical and religious union.
Josip Juraj Strossmayer was the founder of Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences in Zagreb, and it was in the 1990s that the name was changed from Yugoslav to Croatian. He donated a great artistic collection to the academy, forming the nucleus of Strossmayer Gallery in Zagreb. Besides Academy, Strossmayer was also one of the founders of Zagreb University.
As a bishop of Bosnia and Srijem he had a seat in Djakovo, where he built a magnificent cathedral in the 1880s. As a bishop Strossmayer was noted at the First Vatican Council where he opposed the idea of unlimited power of the Pope and held a three hour speech completely in Latin that left many speechless. Afterwards, the Pope only commented that "he speaks excellent Latin".