Croatian musicians
© Ivan Smuk

Multimedia centre 'House of Tambura' opening in the Slavonski Brod Fortress

A cultural project dedicated to Slavonia's most famous instrument
Written by
Lara Rasin

The city of Slavonski Brod is extending its museum dedicated to the tambura - the only one of its kind in the world - with a new multimedia centre called 'House of Tambura'.

The tambura, also known as tamburica or tamburitza, is a string instrument used to play folk music. They're mostly played in Slavonia and Vojvodina, as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo, and, to a lesser extent in Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. The instrument developed from lutes called 'tanbur', of Persian origin, brought to southeast Europe by people from the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

A tanbur instrument from Iran
A Persian tanbur instrument
© Zeray Peter / Metropolitan Museum of Art

A tambura usually has between four and six strings, which can be strung with picks made of wood, bird feathers, horns or plastic. The length of the entire instrument is most often between 45 and 115 cm, although smaller and larger versions can be used. Instruments of different names, sizes and functions fall within the tambura family, such as the dangubica, samica, berde, bisernica, brač and bugarija.

The bisernica, brač and bugarija tamburas
The bisernica, brač and bugarija tamburas
© The Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography

Tamburas are a frequent accompaniment to vocals and dancing. Tambura players are included in folk dance and song ensembles such as National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia LADO. Leader of LADO, ethnochoreographer and professor Zvonimir Ljevaković was born in the Slavonian village of Litik.

The bisernica, brač and bugarija tamburas
A performance by LADO

So, Slavonski Brod, in which the tambura is important part of tradition and society, is expanding its existing museum. The tambura tradition is an important part of the region's identity - it's played at every affair including festivals, weddings and birthday parties. The city's new museum expansion will feature a multimedia center, tambura workshop included, and its full name is 'House of Tambura: Slavonian Musical Fairy Tale'. What makes the museum and its new extension even more special is that they are located in the famous Slavonski Brod Fortress.

Construction on the Slavonski Brod Fortress lasted over 60 years and began in 1751, when the city nearly bordered the expanding Ottoman Empire. The fortress was built under the leadership of Habsburg Monarchy statesman Eugene of Savoy to accommodate 5000 soldiers across two square kilometres. Although made to withstand a forty five-day siege, the Slavonski Brod Fortress was never attacked.

Aerial view of the Slavonski Brod Fortress
Aerial view of the Slavonski Brod Fortress
© Croatian National Tourist Board

Construction of the EU-paid 'House of Tambura' project, which costs over 3 million euros, began in 2019. It's set to be completed this year!

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