This is the part where the magnificent church organs used to stand and the choir. This is all what was left.
Many of my friends from abroad have ask, why the churches, what was the point of such demolishings? The answer is simple and ruthless, by destructing of the culture, traditions and religion of an nation the conquerer could denying its excistion.
The interior part of the church looks very depressing, all what one could feel is deep sadness and infidelity that this could be done by the humans. In the history of the world, during many wars, the churches used to be a shelter and salvation for the civilians, oftenly even the hospitals. In the 1991 war Christian churches were the favour targets.
Partly reconstructed inner part of the church which was completely demolished. There is an exibition in the church which shows the look of it before 1991, in 1991, what was found in 1997 and the present roconstructions.
When the sacral objects becoming military targets then those who gave such an orders couldn't be considered as normal human beings.
On this photo you can see the interiors of the church and the monastery before the demolishing in 1991. Vukovar used to be very rich diocese and the locals usually like to show it by the look of their churches. The interiors of the Church of St. Filip and Jakov was richly adorned, as it could be seen from the photo.
The bell tower was completely demolished during the seage of the town, being one of the most favour targets for the Serbian artillery. When I saw this bells in the monastery yard it remainds me on Hemingway's book....., sad example of human stupidity never ending.
The front side of the church, dedicated to saints Philipe and Jacob is reconstructed aswell as a part of the monastery walls. The idea is to reconstruct the whole complex as it was before the demolishing in 1991. The interiors is still in the ruins a it takes alot of works to bring it in the previous conditions.
Since the 1948 Eltz castle was the home of Museum of Vukovar. The museum had four very important collections: Vukovar collection, Arts Gallery, Lavoslav Ruzicka collection and Recent History collection.
Probably because Eltz castle was a symbol of Central European culture whose part Croatia was, it was one of the main targets for Serbian army during the war.
Together with the destruction of the castle, museum collections were destructed as well. Paintings and most important exhibits were hidden in security boxes in the basement of the castle and weren't damaged by hundreds of shells that hit the castle in 1991. After the occupation by the Serbian forces those collections were stolen and taken to Serbia.
Starting literally from the scratch, it is almost unbelievable to see the strenght museum personnel is showing since 1998 when they returned to destructed castle. Numerous exhibitions were organized since then - approximately 200 different exhibitions and programs per year. A lot of efforts is made to form a new collection again, as well as to bring the stolen properties from museums in Belgrade and Novi Sad.
If you have ever watched any video about the Vukovar, you surely saw this building. The water tower of Vukovar is truly a symbol of destruction, of terrible times this city went through. It is not in function anymore, but stands as the reminder of the past times....
Hospital was heavily bombed during the war, and some parts of it are preserved in that state to witness the horrors of war.
Also, there are dolls in the basement that represent the sick and wounded, the babies born during the occupation of the city.
We took a tour around the town, led by my friend who grew up in Vukovar and lived there through most of the war. I think it is a good idea to try to see things from both the perspective of the Croats and the Serbs who live in Vukovar - because as said by others, Vukovar was and still is a multi-ethnic town. And people of both nationalities lost loved ones, homes, and security. I also think that when war happens, regardless of location, it is the regular people who suffer. They don't necessarily have a choice about what happens to them.
It is painful to walk through the streets of central Vukovar. But it's not that nothing has been reconstructed.
Mainly people's houses were reconstructed, and this was the priority. The problem is - you need work in order to live a normal life. Unemployment in Vukovar is still very high and many people are not returning here because they have a job somewhere else in Croatia.
Schools, hospital, department store, hotel and other important buildings are reconstructed now. There was a national program where each of the 20 counties in Croatia financed the reconstruction of one important public building, along with the funds from the national government.
If you take a look at some other pages about Vukovar here on VT you'll find the photo of this building as a ruin. The beautiful Art Nouveau corner building with the pharmacy was recently carefully reconstructed making one ruin less on Vukovar main street.
Lavoslav (Leopold) Ruzicka (1887 - 1976) was a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, the first one from Croatia. He holds eight honorary doctorates (4 Science, 2 Medicine, 1 Natural Sciences, 1 Law), 7 prizes and medals, and 24 honorary memberships in chemical, biochemical, and other scientific societies.
In the house in Vukovar where he was born a museum was opened in his honour in 1977, as part of the Vukovar museum.
The museum and its collection were destroyed in 1991.
Built through a national program of social housing this new building on Vukovar's main street was built by architects Vinko Penezic and Kresimir Rogina. They won several architectural prizes for this building.
Personally, I don't like it. First because of the fact that even location in Vukovar (or especially location in Vukovar) can not be the reason to be totally socially unsensitive. And spend several times more money than originally approved only for architectural experiment.
Plus, to dress the residential building totally in glass is quite weird. And to paint the large wall facing the main street in screaming red is also weird. Like anyone lacks screams in Vukovar?
The only good thing about this building is that it in a way signifies a new hope for Vukovar by opening a new page in its urban and architectural development.
Franciscan monastery that is situated near the church of Sv. Filip i Jakov was built in 1723, although the presence of Franciscan order in Vukovar is traced back to 14th Century. They were the center of religious life in the area, as well as scientific and artistic life.
When the Franciscan order came to Vukovar they brought with them many rare medieval scriptures, some of them being unique. This was the beginning of the library that counted 12,000 volumes. Especially significant was part of the library that was keeping rare books made in Croatia since the Middle ages.
The monastery was destroyed in the war together with the church, and burned after a fire caused by a special bomb. Recently the building was reconstructed literally out of nothing. The library has vanished in total, and now the new collection is starting from zero.
Inside, the church is not reconstructed yet. As you enter inside, after the freshly painted facade you'll be surprised by bare brick walls and arches.
Some parts of the church, especially its basement and crypt, are still dangerous and not de-mined yet.
The reconstruction is slow partly due to lack of finances, and partly due to lack of relevant historical data as the old drawings and photographs were destroyed in the war.
An improvised altar is made and services are regularly held in the church. The only foreign donation for the reconstruction were old chairs - a gift from the Netherlands. So that people don't need to stand in an ampty church any more.
At the entrance what is left after Serbian army is still shown as a reminder. Their graffitti written in cyrillic letters saying 'This is Serbia' and 'Serbs never forgive' are still welcoming you as you enter the church.