Ilok – The Largest Fortification Complex
and the Oldest Wine Cellar
in Continental Croatia
Ilok is a city in Croatia, located in the far east of the country. This city is, in fact, quite deserted, why am I writing about it? Why? So, let’s start!
Ilok harmoniously rises with its magnificence above the beautiful Danube River, surrounded by the Fruska Gora and vast vineyards. It is a city with a long history that has interesting contrasts in its heritage, but above all this city is kingdom of wine and Traminac and other varieties of wines will lure every visitors.
The fortress in this town was built in the Middle Ages (12th century), and Ilok was first mentioned in 1267. The Franciscans were an important part of the history of the 14th century. Ottomans ruled this area from the early 16th century to the late 17th century, because of that you can see preserved monuments of Islamic culture: turbe – the tomb of a prominent Turk and hamam – ritual bath in the city.
What to see in Ilok
The walls shows the rich and high-quality of construction, which is in accordance with then European art trends and speaks a story about the owners. The most important of them was Nikola of Ilok, because of the functions of the fort this city rightly called royal city.
The fort is located on a hill above the right bank of the Danube, and the excellent strategic position of the city was allowed population density throughout history. The city consisted of two parts, fortified upper town where lived feudal lord and the lower town (suburbia) where citizens lived and that was the centre of economic life long time ago. Due to the terrain at which was formed, the fortification has an elongated, irregular shape. It is enclosed by a belt of solid walls, many of which are still preserved. This complex of the city walls is the largest fortification complex in continental Croatia, and their total length was about 1350 meters. The walls are intersected with smaller round and rectangular towers. The entrance system was highly developed, and consisted with two doors and at the door was another small fortress to which lowered the drawbridge.
The Church of St John Capistran and Franciscan Monastery
In order to leave a permanent stamp of Catholicism and the Franciscan order at the border of East and West, Capistran came to die in the monastery and church that proudly stand above the Danube, between the solid walls of the fortress of King of Bosnia – Nikola of Ilok.
The Franciscans are mentioned in 14th century for the first time in Ilok when the Duke of Ugrin raised church. In honour of St John Capistran, after his death, the church was extended and rebuilt by King Nikola. Capistran was canonized in 1690, and cell-chapel in which he suffered and died in 1456 has been preserved in its original state.
Next to the church is leaning the monastery, which was built and rebuilt several times in the period from 14th to 20th century. Last stylistic changes and reconstruction led by Herman Bolle in neo-gothic style similar to that applied to the Zagreb Cathedral.
Turkish bath brings to this city charm of something oriental from an ancient but never forgotten times. In the Ottoman Empire, baths were an important part of Turkish culture that served as a place for socialization.
After liberation of Ilok from the Ottomans, the Odescalchi family starts reconstruction of the city, especially its palace. Construction began in the early 18th century which is proven by coat of arms of the family at the entrance of the palace in the south wing from 1721 g. Today, the palace of Nikola of Ilok, is partitioned into a palace of Odescalchi dukes, building with “U” plan is open to the Danube and consists of two floors with double-angled roofs.
Due to the extremely valuable historical layers of the castle that present the most significant phase of its construction, it was decided to restore the Gothic-Renaissance palace.
Museum of Ilok
Today in baroque palace of the Odescalchi family is located Museum of Ilok, so the medieval area of fortress was given another content that contributes to its importance in the cultural offer of the city. The museum is a rich with archaeological history and ethnographic materials, and a collection of art works of art colony.
The Old Park From the 18th Century
In Ilok park among the many trees and colourful vegetation stands one of the rare examples of tree Ginkgo Biloba. Ginkgo is a dioecious primitive species that is often referred to as a “living fossil”, because all its relative became extinct up to 200 million years ago. Today, medications and supplements that help for many ailments are prepared from ginkgo, so, if you are walking through the park in Ilok try to fing the rare wood in it.
What to do in Ilok
Visit Ilok Cellars
Being in Ilok and not to go to one of the largest and oldest wine cellars in this part of Europe, Ilok’s Old cellars is sin. Each visit of Ilok unavoidably include the attractive old Ilok’s cellars that are situated in the medieval core. They were built by Dukes of Odescalchi even during the 16th and 17th centuries on the basis of the basement of Nikola of Ilok from the 15th century. Today they are owned by the Ilok’s wine cellars and are among the top of Croatian and European wine list.
Ilok Wine Road – Experience the Size and Picturesque Vineyards of Srijem
Wine in Ilok are of top quality, smell and taste. Interesting is the fact that the wine cellars in Ilok are situated in villages and vineyards are located in the surrounding hills. This combination has created a special wine route and you can visit the vineyards that are all over the place like Principovac and Vukovo, and then stop off at one of the many wine cellars.
The varieties that you can taste and buy in Ilok are: Riesling, Chardonnay, White Pinot, Grey Pinot, Riesling, Sylvaner and Traminer of white wines and Pinot Noir, Frankovka and Cabernet Sauvignon of red varieties.
A visit to the wine kingdom of Ilok is best to complete with meat or fish meal in a restaurant. And if you have time to relax, be sure to plan dinner with local bands that will entertain you with the sound and music.
Cycling – Danube Cyclo Routes
European cycling route along the Danube are extremely interesting near Ilok because of height differences and diversity of the landscape.
This well-marked road is part of the European cycling route along the Danube from the source to the mouth that runs through Croatia from Udvar (Hungary) to Ilok (138 km). Ilok’s part of the trail (17 km) passes through Mohovo, Sarengrad and Ilok. This is part of the route because of the height difference and diverse landscape very interesting. Guests who do not arrive by bicycle can rent them at the agency or hotels or some tourist homes and drive over place and surrounding roads between the Danube and the vineyards.
Danube water and numerous hidden corners along the coast is right an opportunity for relaxation and recreation with a fishing rod in hands, also who is well fisherman can have a delicious fish meal. The fish that usually appear and fishing are carp, perch, catfish, pike and so on. Most used for fishing are rod and hook, and less churns and similar tools.
For fishing is necessary to have a permit. Information and permits can be obtained at fishing companies and from the fishery officers.
Prices of licenses:
Daily – 60 HRK (around 8 EUR)
Yearly – 450 HRK (around 60 EUR)
Be sure to visit the tower in the monastery and experience Ilok from another perspective because through the windows of tower from the height of 100 meters offers a very attractive view of the surroundings.