Via Slavonija i Baranja
HEDONISM IS IN THE EAST
The ninth smallest country in the European Union by area, Croatia, thanks to its specific position, includes a part of as many as three large cultural and geographical units of Europe. And while everyone knows about its beautiful Mediterranean coast, Slavonija and Baranja will welcome you in the northeast of Croatia. Croatia's largest region is also its biggest secret, as the German newspaper Münchner Merkur noted a few years ago. Located in the south of the Pannonian Plain, with a touch of the Balkans in the air, this area is imbued with a rich cultural heritage, colorful customs, impressive landscapes, villages and towns asleep between yesterday and today.
Cradle of good taste
On that list, eno-gastronomic wealth is certainly last but not least. In fact, the charms of Slavonia and Baranja and its heart, the Osijek-Baranja County, are perhaps best presented through the story of sunny vineyards and sumptuous meals. Seasoned travelers and those who are about to become so remain in awe of the astonishing facts: here, for example, some of the oldest wine cellars in Europe are located. One of them is located in the heart of Baranja, a multi-ethnic province between Slavonia, the Danube and Hungary. In the town of Kneževi Vinogradi, at the foot of the wine-growing slopes of a 243-meter-high elevation that the Baranja people call Planina, the largest historic wine cellar in Croatia is located. Built more than five hundred years ago, it is a contemporary of the European Renaissance, great geographical and culinary discoveries.
One such thing happened in Slavonia and Baranja. Namely, during the penetration of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. century European, American and oriental cuisine joined forces. As part of this creative collaboration, black Slavonian pig meat and Indian spices (arrived from the East by the Turks) gave birth to kulen or kulin - the most famous cured meat product and a gastronomic symbol of Slavonia and Baranja. Today, protected as a national cultural asset and a food of protected geographical origin of the European Union, kulen has all the predispositions to become an internationally known common gastro-noun.
However, the horizon of the Slavonian-Baranja table is far wider than the delicacy that symbolizes it. There seems to be no end to the series of meat and fish specialties, accompanied by desserts that were brought to Pannonia by German settlers two hundred and more years ago. Only the view from the easternmost point of the Osijek-Baranja County - the river peninsula near Erdut, rising above the mighty Danube and the vast expanse of neighboring Vojvodina - can match this immensity. If we whisper to you that this place is also home to the largest vineyard in Croatia, one of the largest wine barrels in the world and a beautiful wine complex, two and a half hours' drive from Zagreb it probably won't act as too much of an obstacle.
The best of slow tourism
After all, in Slavonia and Baranja, time is a relative category. A long time ago, a Slavonian reveler, welcoming the dawn with the inevitable tambourines and a small bottle of brandy, declared that life is too short to be in a hurry. Of course, this motto does not mean that Slavonia and Baranja are a place of endless leisure (after all, we are talking about regions whose fertile fields feed Croatia). It simply symbolizes a philosophy in which the moment and the people who make it are not just a drop in the fleeting life, but a unique experience that should be devoted to all the senses. Nowadays, this value cherished by generations is merged into the fundamental feature of the tourism offer of Slavonia and Baranja - endless and unfeigned hospitality and dedication to the guest. You will feel it no matter which type of vacation you choose in Slavonia and Baranja. As you walk through the streets of Osijek, once the largest city in Croatia, and today a regional metropolis that uniquely combines tradition and urban lifestyle, folk creativity and high-tech, multicultural heritage and national symbols. While in Đakovo, the center of another Slavonian winemaking school, you observe noble Lipizzaner horses in a half-millennium-old stable, or admire the famous cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in continental Croatia.
After all, you will feel the magic of hospitality even while alone, surrounded by silence, walking or boating along the mythical Kopački rit, the oldest Croatian nature park and one of the last untouched wetlands in Europe. Here, in the watery embrace of the Danube and Drava, where every visit to Slavonia and Baranja begins or ends, the circle of hedonism with meaning closes. And a unique travel experience that only Croatia's biggest secret can provide.