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 old royal town of Ilok developed on the banks of the Danube in the historical region of Srijem. The Ilok estate used to spread from Vukovar in the west to Petrovaradin in the east. Today, Ilok has 8,350 inhabitants. In addition to Ilok itself, the town includes the villages of Bapska, Šarengrad, Radoš and Mohovo. Ilok is home to the largest Slovak minority in Croatia, an additional enrichment to Croatian culture and history. Five border crossings in the town's area lead towards Serbia (Vojvodina), and the state road D2 leads to Vukovar, Osijek, Vinkovci and Zagreb, as well as to other places in Croatia and to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south.
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.
Viticulture and wine industry
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 “Ilo?ki 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.
In the course of the year, numerous cultural, tourist, economic and entertainment events take place. The most famous ones are the "Ilok grape harvest" (in September), "Vinko's Feast (Vinkovo)" (in January), "Capistrano Day" (in October) and the "Actors' Festival" (in May). Some other entertaining events include the tasting and assessment of wines from the Danube basin and Slavonia, the Slovak national minority festival "Majpana", the indoor-football and basketball tournaments, and the parish fetes in Šarengrad (St George's Feast) and Bapska (Nativity of the Virgin Mary). On "ordinary" days in Ilok, you can walk in the parks and along the Danube, go cycling, hunting or fishing, or spend your time on sports terrains. The restaurants offer a rich choice of local specialities and products: Iločki ćevap (grilled minced-meat fingers), fish stew, fried and deep-fried freshwater fish, sausages from Srijem, kulen (paprika-flavoured sausage) and other delicacies from the Srijem and Slavonia region.
The tourist office of the town of Ilok invites you to come to Ilok.
Take the opportunity to experience the beauty of its landscape, the spirit of times past and the joy that comes from a glass of Ilok wine.