Just north from Nova Gradiška, mere ten minutes drive from the city centre, lies a village Cernik. It is a lot older settlement than Nova Gradiška and boasts with historical and religious monuments. In 1525 the noble family Dežević gets permission to rule the baroque castle Cernik. Just some ten years afterwards the castle together with strongholds of Šag, Gračanica, and Podvrška falls into the Turkish hands.
Turks used the castle for their regional political, military, economy, craftsmanship and religious centre. It returns in the Austrian/Croatian hands in 1691. Later the castle is transformed in a baroque mansion which changed the owners frequently.
But Cernik is far more famous for its Church of Saint Peter and the Franciscan Monastery. The first Franciscans came here in the end of 17th century, when they lived in the wooden constructions. In 1728 the contemporary monastery starts to be built. Three wings of the monastery encircle the inner garden, while the fourth is closed by the Church of Saint Peter, a beautiful masterpiece of the religious architecture built in 1743/1745. The church has many ornamented altars inside.
But the real treasure lies in the monastery’s museum, where many archaeological artefacts from the Biblical lands are on the permanent display. The time spans from the prehistory up to the Turkish period and items are usually tied to the everyday life. There are also many Bibles and the older manuscript replicas on various languages. It also displays the Croatian translation of Biblical texts. The monastery also houses a very valuable cultural-historical library, among which two very rare incunabula, and some five thousand books of religious, artistic, literature, medicine, and natural content.
The rolling hills of Cernik are slopes of the tongue-twisting Psunj Mountain, the highest mountain of Slavonia (Brezovo polje peak is at mere 988 metres above sea level). Although quite low even by the Croatian standards, Psunj is beautiful place for outdoor pleasures, especially in summer when rich woodlands make so necessary shadows from the hot sun. Hiking, camping, cycling, hunting and fishing are among great possibilities of enjoyment on Psunj.
Many head to the Strmac destination, which is situated in a picturesque mountain valley made by the Šumetlica creek. The air is excellent here and very suitable for the modern psychiatric unit of the Saint Raphael Hospital, run by the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God. In Strmac is also a mountain hut of the Strmac Mountaineering Club from Nova Gradiška, founded in 1932. They care for the hiking trails and paths all over Psunj and one of them leads to the Gračanica Fort, a unique bastion from the Middle Ages, possibly built by the mystical Templar Knights.