Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia. It is situated on the Drava River in wine making country. There are lots of beautiful vineyards around the town. We stayed in Maribor for three nights. We spent time looking at Maribor itself, plus we used it as a base for exploring areas nearby with a trip to Ptuj and a trip to Celje. In the north part of Maribor you will find the City Park which has ponds, wide open green spaces and an aquarium. Behind this on a hill there are many vineyards. There is a walk uphill through the vineyards which leads to a little chapel. We did not have time to do this, but the views from here I am sure would be lovely. Other than this area most of Maribor’s sights are grouped around three main squares. The castle and lots of restaurants are located around Grajski Trg. Around Slomskov Trg you can find the cathedral, university, theatre and post office. The town hall and plague monument are located on Glavni Trg. The other area of interest is Lent – an area of old towers, restaurants and cafes located on the banks of the Drava River. This area is also home to Maribor’s famous old vine.
The Hotel Orel is right in the centre of Maribor close to Maribor Castle. It is handy for restaurants and bars. However, the downside of this is that the hotel is very noisy. We stayed here for three nights. On the first night I was woken up by noise from outside the hotel continuously. On the second night I was so tired I almost slept through the noise but was woken up once or twice. On the third night I was so tired I managed to just pass out into total oblivion. The other big downside with this hotel, at least in summer, is that the rooms have no air-conditioning and are stiflingly hot. Staff at the hotel were reasonably pleasant. Our room was clean. The bed was comfortable. I cannot say the room was comfortable due to the heat. Breakfast was OK. There was some hot food, breads, a toaster, cheeses, meats, cereal, coffee, tea. Maribor was a nice place. The hotel was about ten minutes walk from the station and convenient for all Maribor's sights and for places to eat. Maybe it is quieter if you have a room at the back of the hotel. Personally I would never stay here again, because of the noise. Address: Volkmerjev prehod 7, Maribor, 2000, Slovenia.
The City Park.
We visited the City Park on our last morning. It is a pleasant park with ponds, statues and an aquarium. I rather liked the boy with grapes statue. Behind the park there are many large, fancy houses so I assume this is the expensive part of town to live in. Behind these there are lots of vineyards. We noticed there is a walk up through the vineyards to a little chapel and viewpoint. We did not have time to do this, but I am sure the views from there would be spectacular.
Grajski Trg .
Grajski Trg was very close to our hotel. Maribor’s castle is located here – this is more like a big house than a castle. This castle was built in 1555 as a noble residence. In the seventeenth century the castle was renovated in Renaissance style. In the eighteenth century the castle's beautiful baroque staircase was added.We did not go inside, but you can see its famous baroque staircase from outside, though photographing it was not easy as there was always a terrible reflection through the glass window it was located behind. The castle is now a museum. There was also a monument on this square. This monument is dedicated to St. Florian, the patron saint against fires, floods and natural catastrophes. Grajski Trg is lined with restaurants and bars. Admission to the castle museum €3/2/0.85 for adults/students/children.
Slomskov Trg was probably the most interesting of Maribor’s squares. It has a statue of Bishop Anton Martin Slomšek. It has a little pond with a statue of a small boy and lots of brightly coloured flowers. At one end of the square you can find some buildings belonging to Maribor University and several statues of notable Slovenians outside it. On another side lies the Slovene National Theatre, on another Maribor’s very ornate main post office. Post offices in Slovenia seemed to be quite grand buildings wherever we went. The most interesting building on the square in my opinion was Maribor’s cathedral. We were lucky as two singers and a musician were practicing in the cathedral when we visited and the singing was really beautiful to listen to. The cathedral had several lovely stain glass windows commemorating the pope’s visit in 1999.
The town hall square has several beautiful buildings, though some were being restored when we visited. The town hall itself is quite an impressive building dating from 1515. In the centre of the square there is a large plague column with statues of lots of different saints and a Virgin Mary image on the top. At one time Maribor's market took place here.
The Lent area is located on the banks of the Drava River. Some of it has been restored and some is rather rundown. It is the oldest part of Maribor and used to be the commercial hub of the town due to its proximity to the river. At one end you can find the round Judgement Tower which dates from 1310 and near this is a Minorite Monastery and Church. The market is near here, but it was not on when we visited. In the centre of Lent near the water front you can visit the oldest vine in the world which during our visit was laden down with grapes. The grapes of this vine are used to make special wines for visiting VIP’s. At the other end of the Lent area on the river there is the picturesque Water Tower now a café. Back from the waterfront lies the little, white synagogue and the Jewish Tower. Behind this is the street where Maribor’s Jewish community used to live. Some of Lent was restored and some was not. The places that were not looked a bit shabby and run down. Hopefully they will be spruced up a bit later on. Lent was also an area with many restaurants and bars. We had a very tasty pizza meal here in a pleasant setting.
The National Hall of Maribor is a beautiful building. I just viewed it from the outside. Across from it there was an interesting horse statue. I liked the way the sculptor had captured the movement of the animal's head.
The Drava River.
From the bridges over the Drava River there are some lovely views over the old town. The hanging branches of the willow trees which line the banks of the river add to the beauty of the scene. We crossed over one of the Drava's bridges to have a look at one of the newer parts of town, too.
St Mary's Church.
The Basilica of Our Mother of Mercy is a beautiful church is near Castle Square. It is lovely and peaceful inside. This is a church of the Franciscan Order dedicated to St Mary. It was built at the end of the 19th century based on a design by Viennese architect Richard Jordan. This church is built on the site of a former Capuchin monastery and the Church of the Mother of Mercy.
This lovely old steam engine called Ocean has pride of place outside Maribor Rail Station.It seems to be common to have an old steam engine on display at the stations here.
We crossed the Drava River to Revolution Square expecting it to have some monuments. It did not, but it did have a great ice-cream stall and while we were enjoying our ice-cream along came a Slovenian hen party. The bride to be said to us jokingly: “I am about to be married. Please give me some money for drink.” “For drink”, I said. “Surely you’d spend it on your husband.” Then we both thought about it and said she’d be better off spending it on herself. Eventually, we agreed I’d give her money if I could take a photo of her and her friends. She agreed and gave me phallic shaped biscuit in return. Good to know it is not just the Brits who have these mad traditions.
Wine Wine Wine.
Slovenia makes wonderful wine. We kept finding things relating to wine as we looked around Maribor and other Slovenian towns. Maribor is in a wine growing area and you can see vineyards on the hills around it. It is home to the old vine and has statues of the god Bacchus as well as shop signs celebrating wine.
I love shop signs and Maribor had some great ones. I found the rats sneaking under that sleepy cat quite funny. That cat was sleeping up above the pizza restaurant we went to in the Lent area of the city.
Mice sneaking past sleeping cat.