- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
A Bridge Is Born
When Sultan Sülejman the Magnificent decided in autumn of 1525 to attack Hungary, Osijek's fate was settled. Emissaries from Osijek, aiming to save their town, met the Ottomans on August 8, 1526, to hand over the town keys. Less than two weeks later an Ottoman army crossed into Osijek over a pontoon bridge across the Drava. From this point on, Osijek became a key element in the Ottoman's movement north toward Buda and east, toward Vienna. Indeed, far from suffering devastation, the town thrived.
Many an Ottoman war campaign proceeded through Osijek on its way west. However, there was the lingering problem of getting a mammoth army across the Drava and the swamps to the north. The answer: a bridge such as the world had never seen.
With the labor of 25,000 people, Sülejman's Bridge—all 8 km (5 mi) of it—was completed on July 19, 1566. Not only did it span the Drava; it also worked its way in gentle curves across that river's tributaries and across marshes to the town of Darda to the north. The bridge became known as a world wonder; it was depicted and written about by painters and other travelers who came here from afar. Thanks to Sülejman's Bridge, Osijek's strategic and commercial importance as a vital link in the communication route between Constantinople and Budapest blossomed all the more. Osijek, whose inhabitants at the time comprised mostly Turkish settlers and a smaller number of locals who'd converted to Islam, developed rapidly as the most important town in Turkish Slavonia.
Not until the defeat of the Ottoman army by Vienna in 1683 did the Turkish grip on the region begin to weaken. The following year, with the area under attack, Sülejman's Bridge was partly burned. But before long the Turks restored it. But after the last Turkish solider left Osijek in 1687, ongoing wars sealed its fate: it was eventually destroyed beyond repair. Today it lives on only in the history books and in paintings, one of which is on display at Osijek's Muzej Slovonije (Museum of Slavonia).
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- Croatia Awaits You! Flights to Zagreb From 535 R/T ASAPTickets.com
- Movie on Sale: Book 3 Nts in May Fr $88+/Nt Expedia
- Special deal: 3-Star Best Western Stella Fr $94+/Nt Expedia
- May deal: Sheraton Zagreb Fr $113+/Nt — $113 Save with Expedia, $44/night less
- Save in Zagreb: Book 3 Nts in May Fr $117+/Nt — $117 Expedia