Ilok is the easternmost town of the Republic of Croatia and a place where the East meets the West. It rises elegantly above the Danube, surrounded by the slopes and magnificent vineyards of Fruška Gora.
It is a town of long history with interesting cultural contrasts woven into its medieval town, one of the largest urban and fortification complexes of Northern Croatia and the Danube basin. However, Ilok is above all the Danube kingdom of wine known for its Traminac and other varieties which have been pleasing its visitors for a long time. Today, Ilok is reviving after years of war and exile ready to welcome its visitors with an open heart.
The oldest archaeological sites testify to the fact that Ilok was inhabited in the Neolithic Age, and there are numerous finds dating back to the Copper, Bronze and Iron Ages.
Rich finds of the Vinkovci and Vučedol cultures have been discovered. The Romans, after conquering this area, built a border fortress called Cuccium in order to protect the Danube-Pannonian route.
The name Ilok was first mentioned in 1267 as Wjlok, Wylhoc and Iwnlak. The most famous owner of Ilok was Nikola Iločki (1410 – 1477), a powerful Croatian-Hungarian nobleman and claimant to the throne, Viceroy of Croatia, Slavonia and Mačva, Duke of Transylvania and King of Bosnia. During his rule, Ilok experienced its golden age, and the town centre was fortified by walls that have remained partly preserved to this day. Nikola also had the Franciscan friary and the church of St John of Capistrano restored and rebuilt. St John of Capistrano, a European apostle and famous fighter against heresy and against the inroads of the Ottomans, died and was buried in Ilok. The town was granted the status of a free royal borough in the 15th century, and the official Town Charter was confirmed in 1525.
In the period 1526 to 1688, Ilok was ruled by the Turks. Valuable monuments of Islamic culture have been preserved. In the 17th century, the princely family Odescalchi became the new owners of the Ilok estate.
They restored Nikola’s old medieval castle, modernized the viticulture and built the town wine cellars beneath the castle, thus taking Ilok to its “second golden age”. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Ilok was the seat of the District Prefect of Srijem, the headquarters of the district, as well as the judicial, commercial and fair centre.
The history of Ilok can be revisited at the Museum of the Town of Ilok, which houses a rich archaeological, historical and ethnographic collection, as well as a collection of works of art.
On the gentle hills of Fruška Gora, wine has been grown since Illyrian and Roman times. Since then, viticulture and wine production have been considered as one of the main economic branches of this area.
The wine-growing hills of Ilok produce several quality wines. The Ilok Traminac is famous throughout the world, and is drunk at the Court of England. There is also Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Rein Riesling, Chardonnay, Frankovka and others. Numerous Ilok wines have won medals and have been capturing new markets.
The biggest wine producer is “Iločki podrumi” d.d., which now owns the attractive old cellars beneath the Odescalchi castle. The number of small wineries is growing steadily. They have joined in “the wine road of Ilok”, which offers the possibility to taste wine and home-made cured-meat produce and visit the cellars.
Attractions and Landmarks
The Ilok Wine Road
The medieval town
The Odescalchi Castle -The Ilok town Museum
The Sanctuary, Church and Friary of St John of Capistrano
The waters and backwaters of the Danube and many hidden spots along its banks provide an ideal opportunity to relax with a fishing rod in your hands. Maybe you will be able to turn your catch into a tasty fish meal. The following freshwater fish are the commonest: carp, pike-perch, catfish, pike, bream and roach. The fishing rod and hook are the most frequently used pieces of equipment, while beating the water and similar methods are less common. You need to obtain a fishing licence. Information and licences can be obtained at fishing clubs and from the fisheries warden.
Ilok is part of the European cycling route along the Danube from its source to its mouth. The Danube cycling and tourist route passing through Croatia is 138 km in length and is characterised by several stretches which pose a real challenge due to the differences in altitude. Treat yourself to an adventurous and different experience of Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem as you ride along the Danube and get to know the landscape and the local people, customs and things of interest.