Sv. Filip i Jakov church - interior
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.
Baroque houses in town centre
During the 18th Century Vukovar was prosperous town surrounded by rich agricultural land. Trade and crafts are flourishing in town. This was the period when the center of Vukovar was shaped as a unique ensemble of baroque houses with archways. This urban complex of baroque houses was the second most important in continental Croatia - after Varazdin (that is nicknamed 'the baroque town').
Not a single house remained whole in Vukovar. The center was heavily damaged, and due to historic importance of those buildings reconstruction is very slow. Thirteen years after the destruction center of Vukovar remains ghost town with destroyed houses where the only living thing is the vegetation growing between the remaining walls.
Sv. Filip i Jakov church - exterior
Situated on a small hill the skyline of Vukovar is dominated by Church of Sv. Filip i Jakov, built next to the Franciscan monastery. The church was s symbol of centuries-old presence of Franciscan order that were here since the 14th Century, and survived without problems even the Ottoman rule. The church was built in 18th century and enlarged in 1899 - making it third largest church in Croatia (after cathedrals in Djakovo and Zagreb).
The most important elements of the church were richly decorated altars, many old paintings and music organs ? one of the best in Croatia.
The church was totally destroyed in 1991, first by bombs and then totally devastated by Serbian army after they conquered Vukovar in November 1991.
Today the roof and the facades of the church are reconstructed and the church with the monastery is still dominating over Vukovar.
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.
Lavoslav Ruzicka museum
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.
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.
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.
New residential building
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.
Dvorac Eltz (Eltz castle)
After the period of Ottoman rule (1526-1687) area around Vukovar was bought by noble family Eltz. During the following 200 years Eltz family were generating agricultural production as well as crafts in the town, making Vukovar one of the most prosperous places in the country.
In the atmosphere of 18th century prosperity the Eltz family built a castle in 1749. It was one of the most important baroque manors in Croatia, and got its final shape in late 19th century after a neo-baroque reconstruction by a Viennese architect Viktor Siedek.
The Eltz castle in Vukovar was one of the most important examples of baroque castles in Croatia, and with its size and urban significance definitely one of the most monumental. It is the most important historical monument in Vukovar, and is shown on a 20 kuna banknote.
Photo taken from www.vukovarac.net
Go to Vukovar.If you see that...
Go to Vukovar.If you see that you will never want war!Real catastrophy.Huge holes on the walls. Gardens inside the houses because people haven't entered into those houses for 10 years!
Try the cevapi (roasted south-slavian speciality) at the market or at Danube! The best cevapi I have ever eaten in my life!
If you want a short retreat from the sadness of Vukovar devastation, you can have a pleasant stroll along the river Danube; the area is very well kept, in deep contrast with the rest of the town.
On the opposite shore there is Serbia; of course there is no way to cross the border.
Reconstruction is still very slow. There are few shops that were re-opened after the war, like this florist shop situated in one beautiful historic building where only the ground floor was reconstructed. The rest still remains a ruin.
The Church of St. Filip and Jacob
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.
The Church of St. Filip and Jakov
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 Church of St. Filip and Jacob
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.