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Making the parish whole again

31 March 2017

A story of the city centre of Petrinja, Croatia. Petrinja is a small Croatian city and it can proudly say that it is one of the cities in the EU who are engaging within the URBACT III Programme, within the City Centre Doctor Project. For Petrinja the story began some two years ago as a result of one visit to the Slovenian city of Maribor... 

Our mayor, together with his team, went to an URBACT III Programme presentation, because they were interested in what it actually means as well as what can we, as a municipality, learn from this Programme. I think it is enough to say that the mayor was so impressed that Petrinja, today, is a partner not in one but in two projects co-financed by the URBACT III Programme!

For a small city like ours, which has in its recent past suffered from the ravages of war, and in which buildings and our economy were not the only things that were destroyed, but also relationships between people were greatly disrupted. In this context, opportunities provided by participation in URBACT projects means a new  hope for a better future for all Petrinians.

One of the two projects in which Petrinja is a partner is the City Center Doctor Project. The main objective of the Project is to revitalize the city centre by encouraging innovation and collaboration in the 10 partner cities with the aim of retaining the custom of local residents as well as creating an environment to attract new business which will create more jobs.

City Centre Doctor Project Lead Expert Wessel Badenhorst visited Petrinja at the end of March 2017, and he had an opportunity to, amoung other sights, visit the city centre, where he was shown buildings with newly restored facades. This does not sound like a very important event for most people, but it is a historic time for residents of Petrinja because, although our city centre is under protection by our government as a cultural heritage, due to the war it has suffered damage and destruction which is only now being renovated, more than twenty years later. This is a process which started a few years ago, but the impact of what is being done will be significant in the future regarding  quality of life as well as economic growth. The URBACT Programme is important for us because it gives us an opportunity to plan actions such as upgrades, and others in terms of innovation and sustainability, all to bring our city centre back life and new starts to what is still mostly just empty space.

One of the buildings being renovated is the parish belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Petrinja. The building itself is 200 years old and it was, as well as all other buildings in the city centre severly damaged during the war. Serbians are the biggest minority in the municipality with 10% of Petrinja's population, and this is the only parish centre they have. The parish itself did not have enough means to finance this renovation project but they found a partner in our mayor, who helped them together with the municipality to finish renovation of their building. 

This partnership has more than one result, because the effort that was made for the renovation of the parish and the partnership between the parish and the municipality, creates a foundation for better cooperation and coexistence of all Petrinians.

It also shows that what has happened in the past should remain in the past, and that the future will be the way we create it or act up on it.

Written by Kata Rupcic, Development Officer, Poslovne zone Petrinja.