This past weekend was a great way to have a picnic is this little community called Aljmaš. It is only a 30-minute drive from Osijek to Aljmaš. If you were to google it most that appears are resorts or information about the church. There is more to see than you really know. It’s a great way to escape the city life and have a little bit of hiking up the hillside. The community is full of life as the community has been rebuilt for many families and guests as homes and holiday retreat along the river Danube. If you have a chance one can drop by and get some great desserts at Susi's Cakes that is located in Aljmaš.
With only a few cars parked along the main street, there was no fight for a parking spot. The locals gathered at the local coffee bar and across the street, a small restaurant was tidying up for a little bit of business from arriving tour buses. That day there was only 2 buses that stopped that came from the cruiser. You get the feeling of time stopped and a great sense of peace in the air. However, it’s not always this quite, as there are 3 days in August that makes it the busiest days of the year. So busy the roads are closed and only pedestrian traffic is allowed.
The most interesting thing about the Aljmaš is that it is situated at the near mouth of the river Drava that flows into the Danube. When entering the Aljmaš it is impossible to miss the many stork nests sitting on top of chimneys. There are many bird species that can be seen during the summer months here. With summer here now the sights of river cruisers crawl through the Danube. It is great place to spend the weekends on the boat enjoying the sights and sounds of the river. If you are still enough to wait by the side of the river you might just see a sturgeon fish jump out of the water.
The New Aljmaš.
Many people still picture it as homes that are half a century old. However, a lot has changed with the sights and sound of construction of trucks bringing in the soil for the new modern homes. It is a unique combination of where old meets new. There are still some that are there that have been converted to bed and breakfast lodgings. There are numerous country villa’s that are truly a resort on its own with most modest homes accompanied by a small dock along the bank. At river's bank is an incredible soccer field that can be seen from the main road. The location makes a great place for a family picnic and a quick game afterwards of soccer. If soccer is not in the game bring along a Badminton set or Frisbee.
Why it’s better to walk in Aljmaš.
The location of Aljmas is a very small community and has many narrow roads that were built before cars got big. It’s best to walk to get the real feeling of how life really is here and to see the history that shaped the community. With the many bed & breakfast places, you could easily miss them in a blink of an eye. I had to wonder how the tour bus ever made it around these corners. Everything in this community is in walking distance and if you’re staying the weekend it’s a great way to park the car and relax. Homeowners can be seen gardening with children everything is on a smaller scale. If you have to drive it's important to note “Be careful driving and go slow around the corners with the many obstacles to face with many blind spots.” It is ideal for a mini cooper to drive through than an over-sized Sports utility vehicle (SUV).
Many people of Osijek when you say Aljmaš they will always talk about the pilgrimage and Marian church. For tourist when you say they are on an excursion they will believe the churches in Western Europe the style to be neo-gothic or built during the Renaissance era. However, this is a new modern church that was built in December of 2006. The project was carried out by architects Maje Furlan Zimmermann, Ive Gajšaka and Mirka Buvinića that started on Monday, July 23, 2001.
The architecture stands out for many reasons one being very contemporary and the other is eco-friendly. The church using glass with narrow slit beams acting like shutters allowing light through. On the opposite side is something really different the use of copper that is now oxides that have turned green over the years. The church bells are not placed in a traditional tower either. Instead in this marvel of architecture that is curved as you can see by the pictures. There are many things that this church has done not just in style and breaking the boundaries of what churches should look like.
The Stations of the Cross on the hillside.
When driving into the town of Aljmaš on the left-hand side of the road is the path that leads to the Station of the Cross. It can also be seen from the river as you look back and can see the statue of Christ stands at the peak that can be seen miles away. It is tempting for anyone to face the challenge of a great hike to the top. For this hike, you’re in luck as they built a wide path to the top. During the walk, the interlock brink bath zigs and zags up the hill keeping the incline to a minimal. There is these amazing piece of sculpture wood art recessed in the frame. Each cross with the frame depicting a moment for representing different time-frames. The artwork of the hand carved stations was spectacular, for anyone that visits this place it's worth seeing twice. This is part of the pilgrimage that many walk miles to get to it. With many paying homages to the Stations of the Cross. It is no wonder why the path was made so large with vast crowds that cause the main roads to close.
But how many have walked the hillside when it’s not the busiest weekend?
I thought they are missing out on something great… the feeling of tranquillity. The other thing missed is the ability to move around freely without the crowds and see many great things. On this day was only a grounds keeper cutting the grass and a couple doing some snapshots. It's only May and sun was very intense, catching a sunburn is extremely (note bring sunscreen when visiting.) The breeze helps the hot day feel a little bit cooler. Once at the top was an amazing panoramic view of the both rivers and the community of Aljmas. This is a paradise for those that love to see the grand view as well seeing the river. The photography here is priceless that is always changing with the rise of the sun and setting.
Additional History and information.
There is a full history of the church that can be seen at this website with much details of why the Pilgrimage remains important to the Osijek, Slavonia & Baranja.