A SHORT OVERVIEW OF THE COUNTY’S HISTORY
Starting with the Neolithic, many peoples have passed through this area: from the Celts in the 4th century BC to the Romans (in the 1st century AD), the Turks (1536 – 1691) and the Austrians (1691 – 1918). The most visible remains from the past come from the time the Austrians ruled this land and built fortresses for the defence against the Turks. Most of the fortresses were built to defend the population, however the star-shaped Brod fortress was built exclusively for 5,000 soldiers, yet it did not suffer a single attack. The construction of the fortress had a negative effect on the neighbouring population, because it had to participate in its construction without reimbursement, as well as the position and look of its settlements.
Nova Gradiška was built for defensive purposes as well, with its straight parallel streets and spacious rectangular squares, adapting the baroque style to the military needs. In contrast, the walls of the Stara Gradiška fortress was built to encompass civilian settlements. The same can be said for Cernik, which was built in the thirties of the 16th century, by the Croatian noble family Zrinski, but it was torn down during Turkish rule. When the Turks left the area, the Franciscans rebuilt the town in the 18th century, but the fortress was rebuilt only partially because of opposition from the Austrians who were worried that the Turks would use the fortress if the town fell into their hands again.
Little remains from time before the Austrian rule, since the fortresses and churches were built from wood and both for often situated in the same buildings. Even when the Habsburgs ultimately won the war against the Turks (which, in this area, lasted for 16 years and finally ended in 1683) who caused devastation and exodus of the population, the first buildings, mostly military objects, were built from wood, while the villages were modelled after chess boards. When brick, as a more durable material, came into use during the baroque and rococo period, it was used mostly for public and military buildings and churches. Today, the Brod fortress has been renewed and it houses the offices of the City administration, a high school, a music school and a Gallery – all with the intention of bringing life to the fortress.
The Franciscan monasteries in Slavonski Brod and Cernik are among the most interesting historical objects. In fact, the whole county is filled with a wide array of interesting churches, although they may be of a bigger interest to experts or those who seek deeper, spiritual experiences.