Franjevački samostan u Cerniku


samostan Cernik

In the western part of the County, adjoining Nova Gradiška is Cernik, a small town nestling on the slopes of the Mount Psunj. First written records of Cernik date back to the 1530s when the Zrinski noble family had it built as a defence point against the Ottoman invaders who had already occupied Eastern Slavonia.

The town succumbed to Turkish attacks in 1539/1540. During the Turkish rule Cernik was an administrative and military headquarter of a district comprising some thirty villages and hamlets. Cernik was the seat of Sandžak, one of the largest and most important Turkish administrative units. However, the town is primarily renowned for the Franciscan order who established a Franciscan parish there in 1623. From this parish the Franciscans were spreading the catholic faith throughout Slavonia as an antidote to Islam that dominated the Ottoman Empire, and thus also Western Slavonia. The Turkish travel writer Evlija Celebi reports of Cernik as having "twenty-one mosques".
The Franciscan monastery started to be built as late as the first decades after Cernik had become a part of the Habsburg Monarchy. The erection of the western wing in 1728-1735 marked the beginning of construction of the monastery and St. Peter's, a monumental church with seven Baroque altars that was completed in 1744.

In 1757 the Monastery opened a philosophical university where almost all writers of early Croatian religious poetry gained their literacy and basics of Latin and religion, among them Matija Antun Relković, the most important author of the Croatian Enlightenment.

Today the Monastery lives a quiet life and is glad to welcome new guests. Along with marvellous architecture and ambiance it offers permanent exhibitions "Excavated relics from the Holy Land" and "History of Bible".

Dvorac Cernik

Another significant building in Cernik is the Kulmer-Marković Castle that was erected on the site of a former medieval fortress dating back to 1372. The Ottomans had an armoury here, a granary, bey's residence, fortress commander's headquarters and a small mosque. The fortress was accessible by a drawbridge.

The Austrian army destroyed the old fortress to prevent the Turks from reconquering it should they invade Slavonia again. The fortress was partly reconstructed under Baron Maksimilijan Petraš and it underwent a Baroque reconstruction after the Marković noble family acquired the estate in 1756 when it was turned into a feudal seat. Reminding us of this reconstruction is the Marković family coat of arms at the entrance to the castle.

Despite numerous reconstructions and its current run-down state, the castle has preserved its medieval and Renaissance form, a rectangular layout with a central courtyard and rotund towers at corners.