Vinkovci may not be the most famous city in Croatia, but it’s certainly worth your attention. Today, I’m going to reveal the top 5 things Vinkovci is famous for, which makes this town a unique and fascinating place. I bet some of these will truly surprise you.
And don’t rush off once we’ve covered the top 5. I’ve got a bonus for you – a few additional things that Vinkovci is known for. So, make sure to stick around till the end. You won’t want to miss it!
5. Two Rome Caesars Were Born in Vinkovci
Did you know that Vinkovci, or as it was known in ancient times, Aurelia Colonia Cibalae, was the birthplace of two Roman Caesars? Yes, you heard it right. Valentinian I, born in 321 AD, and his brother Valens were the only Roman emperors born on the territory of what is now the Republic of Croatia.
Their family, originally from Cibalae, was part of the local population that, over time, became Romanized and entered Roman service. Their father, Gratianus Flavius, was wealthy and influential, and his sons Valens and Valentinian grew up on estates in Africa and Britain. Gratianus encouraged Valentinian to pursue a military career, and he eventually became a tribune of the shield-bearers of Emperor Jovian.
Recognizing the vastness of the Roman state, Valentinian divided it into two parts after becoming emperor. He kept the western part for himself, with Milan as the capital, and declared his brother Valens as the emperor of the eastern part, with its center in Constantinople. Valentinian successfully fought against Germanic tribes and the Iranian tribe of Sarmatians, and he understood the importance of having a strong base. Hence he built and renovated fortresses along the Empire’s border. His reign is often considered the last great reign of the Western Empire.
4. Ancient Calendar Orion
Inside Vinkovci, an intriguing artifact was discovered – a pot dating back to 2600 BC, adorned with what is believed to be the most complete European (Indo-European) calendar based on astral symbolism. The calendar, unique to its northern 45th parallel location, features relevant constellations for all four seasons, with Orion playing a significant role.
The pot is decorated with engraved symbols representing different constellations significant to each season. Unlike other ancient calendars, this one distinctly defines constellations and uses zones to represent specific periods of the year. The constellations, including Orion, Pleiades, Gemini, Pisces/Pegasus, Cassiopeia, and Cygnus, are depicted as the first features in the evening sky at twilight.
Interestingly, the year in this ancient culture began with the spring equinox, symbolized by the Sun stepping onto the position of Orion. This event marked the last appearance of Orion’s belt in the winter sky before it disappeared for several months.
This astronomical observation helped the ancient inhabitants of Vinkovci coordinate their calendar with the Earth’s annual revolution around the Sun.
3. Traditional Music, Food, and Dance
Vinkovci is renowned for its traditional music, particularly the playing of tamburicas, a family of stringed instruments similar to a small guitar. The city is teeming with small tamburica ensembles that perform this music, a style typical not only of Vinkovci but of the broader regions of Slavonia and Baranja. Many of these songs, sung while working in the fields or chopping wood, have been preserved and are still performed today at cultural events, small parties, and even in schools.
The culinary scene in Vinkovci is another highlight. Here, you can savor local specialties like homemade Kulen (a type of sausage), bacon, goulash, shepherd’s stew, and other dishes that have been enjoyed in this area for generations and are now considered top delicacies.
Traditional clothing, or folk costumes, are a significant part of Vinkovci’s heritage. The outfits worn in the past are still donned at cultural events to keep the tradition alive. Women’s attire often includes various forms of handmade garments and gold ducats, a display of wealth. These costumes are a testament to the prosperity of this area 50 to 100 years ago and even further back in history. And let’s not forget the traditional dance, Slavonsko kolo or Šokačko kolo, a vibrant and lively group dance that is a staple at local festivities.
2. Vinkovci Autumn Festival
The Vinkovci Autumn Festival, or “Vinkovačke Jeseni,” is an event that I’ve mentioned before when discussing the best time to visit Vinkovci. This festival has been held annually since 1966 and features cultural and artistic societies from all over Croatia and beyond. It’s a vibrant showcase of dances, music, food, and art aimed at preserving and celebrating tradition.
Vinkovci is particularly famous for this festival. Those who have experienced the Vinkovci Autumn Festival can attest to the grandeur of the celebration and the deep-rooted tradition of Croatia that it nurtures. If you haven’t been to Vinkovačke Jeseni, you’re missing out on a truly authentic Croatian festivity.
1. One of The Oldest Towns in Europe
Vinkovci holds a special title – it’s one of the oldest towns in Europe, the “old continent.” But what’s even more impressive is that it has been continuously inhabited for over 8,000 years. This makes Vinkovci not just a city rich in history but a living testament to the enduring spirit of human civilization.
The favorable topographical position of Vinkovci has always attracted many cultures that found their home here. From the 6th millennium BC, the city’s core area has been inhabited, giving it a continuous settlement of over 8,000 years.
Research conducted in 2005 led to the discovery of the oldest and largest prehistoric settlement within the city, located on the left bank of the Bosut River and stretching over a kilometer. The first inhabitants lived in pit houses, and an above-ground house with a rectangular base, belonging to the Vinkovci culture, was found.
Additional Things Vinkovci is Famous For
Here are a few additional things that Vinkovci is famous for:
- Cultural Heritage: Vinkovci has been a melting pot of various cultures throughout its history. This is reflected in the city’s rich cultural heritage, which includes numerous archaeological sites and artifacts from different periods. The city is also known for its traditional events, such as the Autumn in Vinkovci festival, which celebrates the rich folk traditions of Slavonia.
- Literary Legacy: Vinkovci has been the birthplace and home to many Croatian writers, contributing significantly to the country’s literary heritage. This has enriched the cultural life of the city and has made it a significant hub for literary activities.
- Natural Beauty: The city is located on the river Bosut, which adds to its natural beauty. The river, along with the city’s parks and green spaces, provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation.
- Architectural Landmarks: Vinkovci boasts several architectural landmarks that reflect its historical and cultural evolution. These include the city’s churches, historical buildings, and archaeological sites.
So, did you know all these things that Vinkovci is famous for? I bet there were at least one or two that were new to you. I hope you enjoyed this exploration of Vinkovci, and if you’re considering a visit, my advice is to plan your trip and go see this beautiful city in eastern Croatia.
So why wait? Start planning your trip to Vinkovci today!