Eugene of Savoy – the first owner of Belje estate

The second part of the 17th century was marked by violent attacks of the Ottoman Turks set on conquering the whole Europe. Austrian military commander and Prince Eugene of Savoy played a special role in this story; as a reward for his numerous military achievements, especially against the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Zenta, in 1697 Austrian Emperor Leopold I gave him Belje – a beautiful, but rather devastated estate in the south of Baranja.

The administrative centre was located in the village Bilje, the Hungarian name of which (Bellye) was used to name the estate. A remarkable military commander in wartime, but also a skilful businessperson in times of peace, Eugene of Savoy organized the estate given to him in the manner typical of Western Europe. At that time, the estate included about two dozen nearby villages and in one of them, Bilje, Eugene of Savoy had a countryside mansion built. Situated at the very edge of Kopački Rit, this mansion is considered one of the most important castles in the Baranja plain. It is surrounded by a beautiful park and believed to have been designed by the famous architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, who also designed the famous palace Belvedere in Vienna for Eugene Savoy.