Vinkovci is a city in Slavonia, in the Vukovar-Syrmia County in eastern Croatia. In the 2011 census, the total population of the city was 35,312, making it the largest town of the county. Surrounded by many large villages, it is a local transport hub, particularly because of its railways.
NameThe name Vinkovci is supposed to come from the common Croatian personal name Vinko. It was called Cibalae in antiquity. There are several proposed etymologies for Cibalae. Those who advocate that Illyrian was a satem language generally advocate that it comes from Proto-Indo-European , in the sense "hill". Those who advocate the theory that Illyrian was a centum language generally advocate that it comes from Proto-Indo-European words and , so that it means "strong house".
The name of the city in Croatian is in plural version and therefore it is grammatically correct to refer to it as "Vinkovci are" instead of "Vinkovci is". Hypothetical singular version of the name would be Vinkovac.
In other historically and demographically relevant languages the name of the city is Winkowitz, Vinkovce,, Винковцѣ, Colonia Aurelia Cibalae and Κιβέλαι Kibelae.
HistoryThe area around Vinkovci has been continually inhabited since the Neolithic period. It was made a municipium under Hadrian and gained the status of Colonia Aurelia Cibalae during the reign of emperor Caracalla. It was the birthplace of Roman emperors Valentinian I and Valens. The Roman thermal bath is still preserved underground, along with several other Roman buildings located near the center of today's Vinkovci. The 4th century Battle of Cibalae, between the armies of Constantine the Great and Licinius, was fought nearby.
From 1526 to 1687 it was part of the Ottoman Empire, administratively located in Sirem sanjak within the Budin Eyalet. It was captured by the Habsburg Empire in 1687, which was later confirmed by the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. Until 1918, Vinkovci was part of the Austrian monarchy, in the Slavonian Military Frontier, under the administration of the Brooder Grenz-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. VII until 1881.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Vinkovci was a district capital in the Syrmia County of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. From 1941 to 1945, Vinkovci was part of the Independent State of Croatia. From 17 April 1944 the city was heavily bombed by the Allies due to its important position in transportation. Vinkovci Synagogue was among the largest and the most prestigious synagogues in Croatia. It was destroyed by the Croatian government in 1941–42.
The city and its surroundings were gravely impacted by the 1991–95 Croatian War of Independence. The city was close to the front lines between the forces of Croatia and the rebel Serbs, but it managed to avoid the fate of nearby Vukovar, which was besieged in the infamous Battle of Vukovar. The eastern sections of the town were substantially damaged by shelling, and the nearby village of Cerić was almost completely destroyed. The most significant destruction in the town center were the town library, which burned down to the ground, the town court, the Catholic and Orthodox churches, both of its hospitals, the town theatre, two cinemas, and a host of businesses and factories. The Church of Pentecost was dynamited by local Croatian forces as retaliation after rebel Serbs forces severely damaged the local Catholic rectory. In December 1995–96, the Vinkovci rail station served as a rail offloading base for the United States Army's 1st Armored Division en route to Županja to cross the Sava River into Bosnia during Operation Joint Endeavor.
The Croatian Army has stationed the headquarters of its Armored-Mechanized Guard Brigade at Vinkovci barracks. The current brigade was formed in 2007 and it incorporated two former guards brigades as well as several other units formed in the 1990s during the war of independence.
GeographyVinkovci is located in the eastern part of the Slavonia region, southwest of Vukovar, north of Županja and south of Osijek. The city lies in a flatland on the Bosut river, at an elevation of approx., and has a mild continental climate. Vinkovci is also part of the smaller subregion of Syrmia.
It is connected to all main railroad routes in the region, while state roads D46 and D55 connect it to motorways; river Bosut is not a waterway. Nearby villages and adjacent municipalities include Ivankovo, Jarmina, Markušica, Nuštar, Privlaka and Stari Jankovci.
DemographicsThe city administrative area includes the following settlements:
- Mirkovci, population 3,283
- Vinkovci, population 32,029
By ethnic group, as of census 2011, the population of Vinkovci is:
economy is primarily based on trade, transport and food and metal processing. Industries include foodstuff, building material, wood and timber, metal-processing, leather and textile. Due to the surrounding farmland, also notable are farming and livestock breeding, and the town hosts a Crop Improvement Centre.
Vinkovci railway station is the main railway junction of eastern Croatia, of railroads leading from Bosnia and Herzegovina toward Hungary and from the capital Zagreb toward Belgrade. The large railway junction, after Zagreb the second largest in Croatia, underlies the importance of transit in Vinkovci.
Vinkovci is also the meeting point of the Posavina and Podravina roads and the intersection of the main road D55 Županja–Vinkovci–Vukovar and several regional roads.
Vinkovci, though it is spelled Vincovci in the book, and its rail station are featured in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express as the place near which the Orient Express breaks down.
CultureThe town features extremely rich cultural and historical heritage, the most interesting attraction being the pre-Romanesque church on Meraja from 1100, with the coats of arms of the kings Koloman and Ladislas, as one of the most important medieval cultural monuments in Croatia. The building has recently had the ancient timber beams removed and a new, modern, brick upper section and roof added.
The most famous annual event, one of the biggest in Slavonia, is the folk music festival "Vinkovci Autumns", which includes the folklore show and the presentation of folk customs of Slavonia. It is characterized by a number of original folk music performances, beautiful traditional costumes, a beauty contest, competitions of the manufacturers of kulen, plum brandy and other traditional foodstuffs, and especially by the magnificent closing parade.
Vinkovci's music school Josip Runjanin is named after the composer of the Croatian national anthem Lijepa naša domovino. The Vinkovci gymnasium is named after Matija Antun Reljković, a Slavonian writer who lived in the city in the 18th century.
Monuments and sights
- Vinkovačke jeseni
Notable natives and residents
- Goran Bare, rock singer
- Vanja Drach, actor
- Mirko Filipović, Kickboxer and Mixed Martial-Arts fighter
- Satan Panonski, Yugoslav and Croatian musician and freak performer
- Mavro Frankfurter, last Vinkovci Rabbi
- Carl Heitzmann, pathologist and dermatologist
- Lavoslav Kadelburg, lawyer, judge, polyglot and activist
- Branko Karačić, footballer/manager
- Mario Kasun, basketballer
- Josip Kozarac, writer
- Ivan Kozarac, writer
- Dubravko Mataković, cartoonist
- Dina Merhav, Israeli sculptor
- Eugen Miskolczy, physician
- Otto Miskolczy, entrepreneur and World War II Partisan
- Josip Runjanin, composer of Croatian anthem
- Stjepan Šejić, comic-book author
- Rade Šerbedžija, actor
- Erich Šlomović, art collector
- Josip Šokčević, Croatian viceroy
- Theodoric the Great, ostrogothic ruler and king of Italy
- Valens, Roman Emperor
- Valentinian, Roman Emperor
- Ivan Bošnjak footballer