I’m always ready for a good hunt of charming Central European towns. They might look similar, whether they are located in southern Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia or Slovenia, but I still keep falling for them all the time.
There’s just something about Central European vibe, the distinctive architecture and the multicultural past that makes me excited. I can’t even fully explain this feeling but every time when I find this kind of unknown place with Austria-Hungary legacy I feel just right there. And that was also the story with Ptuj, Slovenia.
Before my visit I only knew the place called Ptuj exists in Slovenia but I couldn’t really locate it on the map, say if it’s a big, important city or name famous monuments. I went there with open mind and no expectations at all and let the town charm me.
From the moment we crossed the river Drava and saw the picturesque view of castle towering above the city with red rooftops I knew we will be friends with Ptuj. The town looked so beautiful in the warm afternoon sun, like a painting!
In next few hours the more I was learning about Ptuj, Slovenia, the more I was falling for it. The town turned out to be such a little gem!
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Ptuj – the oldest town in Slovenia
Ptuj is the oldest town in Slovenia, dating back to the Stone Age. In 1st century BC Ptuj (then named Poetovium) was an important center and legion-camp in the Ancient Roman Empire. It might not look so obvious right now as the majority of the town’s center is build in the finest style of Austria-Hungary but the grounds below Ptuj still hide some valuable remnants of the old times.
It is forbidden to dig deeper than 1 meter (in the very center it’s only 70 centimeters) as no one really knows what still might be found down there. These days the town is rather languorous place at the outskirts of the country where life goes by at its own, calm pace. But the charm is definitely there and you can feel the city was up to some grand things in the past.
Ptuj Castle – the best viewpoint in the city
The town is dominated by the castle, standing proudly on the hill above Ptuj. Due to the strategic position at the bank of Drava river the castle hill was occupied since the early days of Ptuj and it played an important role over the centuries. The look of the building we can see now dates back to the 18th century and it actually reminded me a lot of the castle in nearby Maribor or the courtyards I could see in Brno or Bologna.
These days Ptuj Castle is home to the museum that hosts the biggest collection of music instruments in whole Slovenia. But that’s not the only reason why it’s worth climbing up the steep hill to the castle. The view from up there is the best one you can get in Ptuj, with the whole town, the nearby Ptujsko Jezero and the surrounding idyllic countryside at its best.
The river crossing the city and the sea of the red rooftops reminded me a lot of similar views I could admire in Novi Sad or Graz and I was falling for them as much as I did for the one in Ptuj, Slovenia.
Things to do in Ptuj, Slovenia
But the castle is only one of few interesting things to see in Ptuj. The maze of the colorful lanes is typical for Central Europe and so pleasant to wander around. Every corner hides some little gems, whether it’s street art, small cafes or interesting backyards. Whenever your curiosity pushes you to enter a gate in Ptuj center do that as chances you will find something exceptional are really high, for me it was an absolute success!
Each year in August an interesting festival takes place in Ptuj – Days of Poetry and Wine, gathering established artists from all around the world. While the event itself lasts only for few days the outcome can be seen on the walls at Jadranska ulica in the heart of Ptuj. All these small details were the reason why I enjoyed Ptuj so much.
While wandering around Ptuj don’t focus only on the details as there’re some grand monuments around too! Don’t miss Orpheus Monument – a Roman tombstone from the 2nd century, the Town’s Tower – probably the most distinctive landmark of the city or the Town Hall built at the beginning of 20th century in the beautiful art nouveau style, reminding me or the exceptional architecture of Subotica, Serbia. I was really surprised how many amazing things this small town has to offer!
Ptujska Gora – the Gothic masterpiece
Not far from Ptuj, on the hill at the border between Drava flatlands and Haloze hills yet another little gem can be found – the parish church of Ptujska Gora. It was built in 15th century and is one of the best examples of the Gothic style in the area.
The church is devoted to the Virgin of Mercy whose statue is standing proudly in the center of the altar. When you look closer you can see it is a real masterpiece that was made by artists from the circle of Peter Parler – the architect of St. Vitus Cathedral or Charles Bridge in Prague. Visiting Ptujska Gora church is a must for every art and architecture fan!
Relaxing in Terme Ptuj
There’s one more reason to visit Ptuj – to relax in Terme Ptuj Thermal Park. This is one of the youngest spa resorts in Slovenia, even if the bathing tradition in this places dates back to the Antiquity. Now the whole complex is designed in the style referring to the old times, being a connection between the great past and present.
Terme Ptuj offers not only a swimming pool (that hosts numerous national teams on the trainings on regular basis) and water park but also a wellness center, and of course both places use a local thermal water for the treatment and activities. But the best thing about Terme Ptuj are the accommodation options that can satisfy everyone: from the 4* Grand Hotel Primus to the camping and holiday huts.
However the most unique way to spend the night is to sleep in the former wine barrels! How cool is that?! I haven’t seen a similar spot anywhere else and now I just wish I could have spent a night there!
Ptuj has a perfect location, next to the highway connecting northern Europe with Croatia yet it seems that not many tourists heading for the seaside holidays decide to stop there. Huge mistake!
The town has so much to offer: interesting history, beautiful architecture, great monuments, thriving culture and perfect relaxing options. Basically it has all you might ask for so why don’t you make yourself a favor ainclude Ptuj in your Slovenia itinerary! You won’t be disappointed! Visiting Ptuj was definitely one of my favorite things to do in Slovenia!
Have you been to Slovenia? Do you like Central Europe as much as I do? Would you like to visit Ptuj?
If you think of visiting Slovenia or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:
- Slovenian Alps – a paradise on Earth!
- Charming Ljubljana, Slovenia in pictures
- Alternative Ljubljana
- and more!
Disclaimer: my trip to Slovenia was in partnership with Best Press Story however all opinions are 100% mine, as always
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