A Forgotten Park in Orahovica, Where the First Beauty Pageant Took Place in 1925

Total Croatia News

A step back in time in Croatia to a park which held the first beauty pageant in former Yugoslavia in 1925.

Parks are a feature of many cities in Croatia, including in Slavonia. In Orahovica, parks have a long history and tradition, adorning the town for more than two hundred years. First parks were set up as early as 1750, and about a hundred years later, the first expertly landscaped parks started to appear, giving the town a completely different image, reports Glas Slavonije on November 1, 2015.

The people of Orahovica have taken care of their parks through the history, and they are continuing with the tradition. However, there are exceptions. One of them is a park that has historically carried a number of names, from Robert Domanji to Plavac, which is the name which it still unofficially carries. However, the most famous name of the park is a Swim Tennis-Park, of which today only some tall pines and firs are left, testifying about the rich history of this area.

In 1912, there was something really special at the park in Orahovica. Ive Mažuran in his book on Orahovica recalls that at the centre of the town the Spitzer Inn was built, which was later converted to a hotel. “Since the hotel was built, there were more and more people coming to Orahovica to spent a part of their summer vacation there, and the only thing missing was a swimming area”, Mažuran explains.

The Society for Beautification of Orahovica decided in 1914 to build a swimming area near the hotel surrounded by wooden planks, which was done at a cost of 400 kronor. The swimming area was small and very modest in appearance, with only men being allowed. Years have passed and the pool was becoming increasingly popular, but too small to accommodate everyone.

The Society recognized the problem and in 1922 expanded and rebuilt the swimming area. They built 24 wooden cabins, deck chairs, showers and diving boards. Particularly attractive was the land around the pool, which was turned into a rose garden donated by Svetozar Grgin.

All this attracted many important visitors, so in 1925 Orahovica became the host of the first beauty pageant in then Yugoslavia. According to local historian Duško Rađenović, the first winner was a contestant from Orahovica. Although some sources claim that the first beauty contest in then Yugoslavia was held in 1926 at the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb, Orahovica actually came first. In the 1980s, this was confirmed by a then popular TV game-show. After contestants did not know the answer to the question, the host gave the answer: “The first beauty contest was held in 1925 in Orahovica.” In any case, 90 years have passed since this important tourist event and today almost no one knows this historical curiosity, not only in Orahovica, but in the whole Slavonia.

After the construction of Orahovica Lakes in the 1960s, the swimming area has lost some of its prominence and was soon closed. Today, nothing is left. At the location where the swimming area once was, there is now a grassy meadow with a children’s playground. However, the City of Orahovica has announced that the park will be returned to its former glory. Maybe they should at least put a sign somewhere which would inform passers-by that there used to be the most important bathing facility in this part of Slavonia.

For more photos, click here.


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