Osijek has a long history dating back to ancient times, with evidence of Celtic tribes inhabiting the area. The great Roman city of Mursa once stood on the site of the current city, though subsequent wars mean that little of the city’s Roman heritage remains today.
Instead, much of Osijek’s visible history dates from the Middle Ages, when the city grew into a wealthy merchant and crafting town. The first recorded mention of ‘Osijek’ dates from 1196, when it was known in Hungarian as Eszek and in German as Esseg. Throughout the powerful Croatian-Hungarian Kingdom period, the town flourished thanks to its position on the River Drava, close to the point where it meets the influential trading passage of the mighty Danube.
In 1526, the town was captured by the Ottoman Empire, and remained under Turkish rule until the late 17th century. After the Ottomans were ousted from central Europe, the town became a part of the powerful Habsburg Empire – beginning its architectural and cultural golden age.
During the Habsburg period, Osijek was rebuilt in a classic baroque style, and many of its most celebrated buildings originate from the era, including Holy Trinity Square, St Michael the Archangel Church, the General’s Headquarters and the imposing City Walls and Water Gates, which still remain in a wonderfully-preserved condition today.