However, we did not want to leave Celje without visiting the largest castle in the country, former headquarters of the Counts of the city.
Planning the route of the day: Celje - Ptuj - Maribor
So you do not leave something that you would like to include in your planning we detail our stops and decision making on this day, as always. He itinerary of the day has been the following (click to see it on Google Maps)
We have started the day approaching by car to the parking lot of the Celje Castle, just 5 minutes from where we slept. From there the route has taken us in 50 min to Ptuj where we have visited the city and we have eaten. Around 14'00 we have headed to Maribor where we will spend another Christmas day, just 30 minutes by car from Ptuj.
Distance traveled during the day: 94 km
Car used in the trip: Peugeot 308 130 HP Diesel booked with Rentalcars With Premium Coverage in case we have a problem. You already have available the article "Car rental in Slovenia (from Venice) with comparative"
Hotel chosen to sleep in Maribor: Mercure Maribor City Center (modern hotel with simple parking a few meters from the center)
Alternative excursions to the car fromand Ljubljana: Excursion to Maribor and Ptuj with collection, transport, guide and ending the day at the public beer fountain of Žalec
Circuit from Venice for those who do not want to rent a car: 8-day tour of Slovenia from Venice with guide in Spanish which includes airport pick-up, lodging, breakfast, transfers, cable car and all tickets
What to see between Celje and Maribor?
Our stops have been the Celje Castle, Ptuj and Maribor himself but the route would allow us to stop somewhere more than Slovenia's worth. Here you have them, as always, Listings by stop order (many do not appear even in the usual guides -With the most interesting-):
- Celje, in this case the castle that we consider to be in the surroundings because you have to arrive by car (you can walk but it is a walk).
- Lasko, thermal tourism and craft beer.
- Sevnica, town that at this time has different events related to a magical December.
- Podčetrtek, population in the Kozjansko Park with an abandoned castle and a unique Franciscan Monastery of Olimje.
- Rogaška Slatina, spa town with a unique healing mineral water called Donat Mg.
- Ptuj, not only the oldest and one of the most beautiful but also one of the best decorated if you stay to sleep, full of "magical beings."
- Maribor, capital of the region in the middle of the forest of the mountains of Pohorje on one side and the hills of vineyards with the oldest vine in the world on the other side of the river Drava and with a great Christmas atmosphere.
Mind you, one thing is everything we consider that could be done and another that you are overwhelmed with seeing everything ... You would need 1 month! We have chosen the best and most outstanding for a 7-8 day trip.
After spending the afternoon yesterday knowing the main attractions what to see in Celje as well as its more Christmas atmosphere (great success sleeping here), we continue in the northwest region called Lower Styria, part of that Duchy of Styria that was left to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after World War I and whose capital is our goal of the day, Maribor, starting with the considered largest castle in the whole country, Celje Castle. So, after having breakfast at the Evropa Hotel only 3 km separated us from the parking lot on top of the nearby hill ... and Perejildo, our drone, wanted to stick a small flight.
In the Middle Ages, all these lands of Lower Styria were ruled by several dynasties such as the Counts of Celje, whose great possessions would be incorporated into the Dukes of the Habsburg by the fifteenth century. The Castle of Celje, originally designed as a Romanesque palace with references as early as 1322, was inhabited by Friderik I, the first Count of Celje, who transformed it into a dwelling.
In addition to the largest, the Celje Castle It was the most important in Slovenia and all the eastern Alps because it covered almost 5500 m². We will have to see it, right? (Entrance 8 EUR both, Oli does not pay)
To enter this imposing fortress is to enter a renewed construction, with parts still in ruins, which combines the Gothic, Romanesque and even the Renaissance legacy, the perimeter, the result of its architectural development in times when it exerted a great economic role. However, his growing loss of strategic importance led him to a successive deterioration until definitive abandonment in 1795. What we see today is the restoration thanks to the efforts of the society of the Celje museum from 1882 to the present day.
The highlight of the complex is the Frederick Tower in its eastern part and, of course, panoramic views towards the Savinja River entering the valley of Laško and Celje itself. Wonderful!
Oli in his "diver" can barely see his eyes, haha, so before finishing our particular visit, we took advantage of the discount you get with the entry into the Veronika cafe to have some cappuccinos (0.80 EUR with the discount applied ) and take it out of its "bag". Is it worth the castle? Without a doubt, yes, especially for its views and stories, some quite gloomy and dark, but that we let you discover.
Ptuj, the oldest city in Slovenia
We said goodbye to our stay in the beautiful Celje that has welcomed us so well to head towards the oldest city in Slovenia for which we barely deviate from our way to Maribor on the A1 / E57 a few minutes at the SI.Bistrica-sever / Ptuj / Pragersko that gives access to highway 2. In less than 1 hour we were looking for parking, which was not very difficult since we found it very close to the Church of St. George, putting 2 EUR of the hour although we were left with doubts without we should have paid or entered within the holidays. Anyway, we'll never know.
Ptuj, although it sounds like "salivazo", is not only a population whose settlements date back to the Stone Age, but it is possibly one of the most beautiful in all of Slovenia with that labyrinthine historical center with medieval streets, buildings with red roofs and squares , churches and terraces on all sides. Our walk through the main attractions to see in Ptuj It has been similar to the following detailed route with map that we leave you (click to see it on Google Maps)
The first thing we found just down the street is that St. George's Church (Cerkev Svetega Jurija) in the Slovenski square that stands out for a small wooden sculpture of the year 1380 and, just in front, the City Tower (Mestni stolp), built in the 16th century. This is like a jewel in the middle of an open-air museum since although it is Gothic (there is not much more in Ptuj) around there are many Roman elements (a throne, an altar, a lion, a funeral stele with a scene from Orpheus, ...)
Transversal to the street that leads to the previous square and where the tourist office is also located, up an alley that leads to the castle. There are really several that do but this is the most typical
Paula has decided to stay down where there are several charming shops while I take advantage of the fact that Oli is asleep.
In time he will not remember but Oli with 1 year old still does his two daily naps: One in the middle of the morning and one after eating. Today in the car, just starting, has fallen again but, unlike other times, has not woken up when stopping. Total, that from the car seat has passed to the Yoyo + and has taken an easy 3-hour nap. In view of Oli, she has fallen asleep watching a castle and there has been almost no Ptuj for her. Children ... blessed treasure!
Ascend to Ptuj Castle It is one of those essentials that should not be missed at this stop (there are a few stairs and a not very complicated ascent). While not so much for the palace itself (and less after coming from Celje), yes for the stunning views of this population treasure which reached the status of city already in Trajan's time.
He San Florian Castle, as it is called although Florian's remains rest in Krakow after a tortuous death since he was persecuted for being a Christian in the time of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, dominates and protects (or has done so during different times) the settlement on the banks of the river Drava Since forgotten times. The site today serves primarily as an exhibition of the famous Ptuj Carnival (the city is also famous for having the oldest wine cellars) and different collections of instruments, galleries, etc ... It has schedules from 9 am to 5 pm on October 15 to May 1 and 6 pm the rest of the year, except Saturdays and Sundays and the summer months (July and August) that extend it at 8pm. Your price can see it in the Ptuj Castle official website but at the date of our visit it was EUR 6 per adult.
The stomach begins to ask to eat so I meet again with Paula (on the other side there is another possible visit, the Dominican monastery from the 1230 Muzejski square) that has taken advantage of the time (a beautiful mouse carved in wood of remembrance for Oli and something else for 10 EUR) and we reached the Town Hall (Mestna hisa), completely decorated of Christmas and attracted by the music of an organ of those who no longer see each other.
The Mestni Square where all this is located is of neo-Gothic historicist style and in the center a monument to San Florian stands on a baroque column. Well, really as we read it seems that it is a copy due to the deterioration of the original.
It is not a famous or prominent place but for EUR 5.60 including drinks we have been very good. If someone looks for a more prominent one, Gostilna Ribic or Amadeus or Pomaranca is the most recommended.
Good afternoon Oli! Welcome to Ptuj although soon you will see because it is time to leave. The rest of the ride before picking up the car has been approaching the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Cerkev sv Petra in Pavia), part of an old monastery and wander around finding an art gallery like the Milheli Gallery which houses paintings by the famous teacher and painter.
What to see in Maribor (including your Christmas)
Just half an hour separates Ptuj from our accommodation in Maribor, also on the banks of the Drava River that separates, at this height from its channel, the forests of mountains of Pohorje and the hills of vineyards and that at this time dresses up Christmas with several markets and an extraordinary atmosphere. As we could not stop at the bridges we leave you these photos whose source are Matej Vranič and VisitLjubljana
He Mercure Maribor City Center Not only is it a comfortable design hotel in a quiet area but it also has its own outdoor parking and its location is ideal for making the main visits in Maribor.
We have not commented yet but these days in Slovenia we have chosen to choose rooms superior to the standard since the price difference is much smaller than in other countries and as we ask for a baby cot, we usually have a living room or desk space for older people and thus we undo the Suitcases there or just let Oli crawl or take his first steps. And what are we going to do in the capital of Lower Styria? Of course, enjoy your Christmas atmosphere but also know the main attractions to see in Maribor of which we show you a detailed route with map (click to see it on Google Maps)
Maribor is the second most important city in Slovenia and although it shows as soon as you step on its streets, it is also true that its main attractions are very concentrated which favors walking (or backpacking). Here we are going to cheat a bit like yesterday in Celje, using photos of tomorrow's day before we leave, although the route is the same. The Church of the Franciscans (Franciskanska Cerkev) It has no loss whatsoever because you see it from wherever you look. It is a beautiful brick dating from the 19th century and was designed by architect Richard Jordan on an old Capuchin convent.
A little further on is the Vinag Winery, of which they say it is the largest winery in Europe with its 20,000 square meters and one of the oldest. Its building is from 1857 and has an underground labyrinth of 2.5 km. The fact that their white wines are so famous makes them ride up wine routes with this winery, some bar and the old Vine House but it is all so easy here that we would do everything quietly on foot. In that same square appropriately called trg Svobode ('Freedom Square') you can also see the National Memorial Monument which is a spherical bronze monument in homage to those killed by the Nazis during World War II, as well as going towards the end of the square, a beautiful government building with a large park and the statue of Commander Rudolf Maister.
Maribor also has a castle in Graski Trg square although if we start looking for it with the idea that we all have strength, we would never find it. He Maribor Castle (Mariborski grad) It was built between 1478 and 1483 but converted into a palace shortly after. That, together with later additions such as a baroque staircase, a chapel or a hall with paintings on the ceiling of Jozef Gleber makes today the Maribor Regional Museum with more than 100,000 pieces from all eras (including the Stone Age ).
But not everything will be monuments and visits, right? You already know what we like the experiential and that happens to see Maribor from the heights on a panoramic rooftop.
He LUFT 360 rooftop it is the best place in Maribor to have a coffee, a hot chocolate, a gintonic, a cocktail or other drinks with the best views of the second largest city in Slovenia at our feet, all accompanied by good atmosphere, music and a very Christmas decoration in these dates.
In fact, we took the opportunity to have a beer and a cocktail at European price, though (6.20 EUR) while watching the sunset over the city and everything around us was illuminated.
It was time to see the most Christmas Maribor, which they defined as "Fairy city" where San Nicolás markets, Christmas and New Year, concerts and events, ice rink, workshops, local crafts, thematic decoration and account characters congregate to convey a city that dresses for the time. And so it is ...
Although we had a small problem with the camera (hence the somewhat blurry photos because they are mobile -and some lost-, a thousand pardons) and the temperature dropped a lot as the sun disappeared, we could see groups of children accompanying "Maribor fairies", crowded terraces and lots of mulled wine, the Synagogue and Jewish Tower, the Water Tower (Vodni stolp), the House of the oldest vine and the oldest vine in the world which has about 400 years of life (according to the Guinness Book of Records), the town hall and Plague Memorial, as well as its Cathedral and the Tower of Justice (Sodni stolp). But, above all, we live Christmas in every corner (coffee and cake 6.20 EUR)…
Today was a concert night but the temperature for the little girl in the backpack might have already dropped too low, so we decided to have dinner at the local hot dog, hot wine and other pecking (14 EUR) stands before heading back to the Mercure Maribor City Center from which they hardly separated 10 minutes.
It is not easy to see Maribor on travel itineraries since the vast majority focus on the northwestern part of the country. However, it seems to us a city with a lot of charm for those who dare to approach at any time. We recommend the article of our partners The City Collector With great photographs of all places. If you plan on staying longer, things you can see and do in Maribor for older people:
- Observe the imposing sewer covers or also the sidewalk bronze plates which are reminders of people who lived in those buildings before deportation to a concentration camp
- Approach the Mestni Park, of English type and with an Aquarium and Terrarium. It is the largest in the city center.
- We have not mentioned it above but in the Grasjski Square, in the castle, is the Hotel Orel, a former inn of the 19th century and the Astoria café, which deserve a stop.
- In the Market Square (Slomskov Trg) where the cathedral is located you can also see the Maribor University, the National Theater and the Renaissance building that is the headquarters of the Post Office.
- In the Glavni Square, the main Maribor and mandatory stop, in addition to the Old Town Hall you can see a Jesuit College and the Church of San Aloisio or Luis Gonzaga, the Monument to the Virgin and the typical traditional houses.
- Finally, another interesting stop could be the Terezijin Palace turned into a casino today.
To put a catch, maybe we miss the Christmas stands of other areas of Europe or that we saw yesterday.
Maribor, like Celje last night, conveys that sense of magic that we were looking for In a less known destination. The Celje Castle or Ptuj have been the great stops of the day but the atmosphere of the Glavni square with its huge decorated tree, the fairy parades through the streets, its food stands or the panoramic views from the LUF360 rooftop have put the icing to another unforgettable day for little Olivia living her first Christmas. Tomorrow to Ljubljana to spend a couple of days, including that long-awaited New Year's Eve ...
Isaac, Paula and Oli, from Maribor (Slovenia)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 42.40 EUR and GIFTS: 10 EUR