This post is also available in: Slovenian
Maribor, Styrian capital and second largest city in Slovenia, offers many sights and attractions that can turn your visit to the city into an experience rich in culture and heritage, an exceptional wine tradition, a cheerful and relaxed pace of events and sporting euphoria. Welcome to the city of the oldest vine in the world and the European Capital of Culture 2012!
In the heart of the old city centre on Lent, the oldest vine in the world still grows in front of the Old Vine House. The confirmed age of this “Žametovka” or “Modra Kavčina” vine is over 400 years, which won it a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest noble vine in the world still bearing grapes. The Old Vine is a symbol of the rich wine culture of Maribor, Styria, and all of Slovenia.
The Old Vine was planted towards the end of the Middle Ages, when Maribor was facing Ottoman invasion. It survived the furious fights between the invaders and the defenders of the city, as the Old Vine House used to be a part of the city wall. The vine was not harmed by the fires then, which occurred frequently due to wooden roof structures and straw coverings, nor by the vine lice that destroyed most of the other vines. Even though the bombardment of the Allied forces during World War II partly destroyed the Old Vine House, this resilient plant survived unscathed.
Today, the Old Vine is the only plant with its own museum in the Old Vine House. The scions of the Old Vine grow on almost all continents and in several places in Slovenia. The Maribor Octet and the Neuvirtovi Štajerci band even recoded an anthem in its honour. Several picturesque wine cellars and wine roads in Maribor and nearby are also dedicated to the Old Vine.
Visit a treasure trove of noble wines, Vinag’s wine cellar!
In the centre of the city, below the square Trg svobode and further on, is one of the largest and oldest classic wine cellars in Europe – it boasts an area of 20.000 m2 and 2,5 kilometre long underground tunnels, which lead you into a wonderful world full of the tastes of wine!
Wooden barrels, concrete cisterns, bottles with wine patina… The most valuable speciality in the cellar is certainly the wine archives, where more than 250.000 bottles of the best vintages are kept.
After investigating “Maribor’s underworld” stop at the nicely arranged wine tasting room, and try some excellent wines.
Lent is the most delightful and the oldest part of the city of Maribor. The oldest vine in the world grows its deep roots in front of the Old Vine House, and has witnessed many stories that have taken place on the banks of the Drava River. The greatest mark was definitely left by the rafters who refreshed themselves at the largest rafting harbour of that time and obtained supplies for their further navigation towards Croatia and Serbia.
You can see most of the attractions of Maribor while walking through Lent. It is best to start at the Old Vine, continue past Judgement Tower to the Maribor Market where you can buy original products of the local farmers and craftsmen. The route further leads you towards the Studenci Footbridge where lovers can attach padlocks to the railing, as a sign of eternal love.
When you cross the Drava River, you can admire the breathtaking view of the old part of the city of Maribor from the right bank. Walk to the Old Bridge, cross it and continue towards the starting point along the Usnjarska Ulica Street past the Žički Dvor Manor, synagogue, medieval walls and water tower where you can taste excellent local wines in a modern wine cellar.
Those who prefer long walks can turn to the rafting educational trail at the Studenci Footbridge, which leads past Koblar Bay and all the way to the Maribor Island.
The Drava River has undoubtedly left a great mark on Lent. Today you can enjoy a ride by traditional raft or by the Dravska Vila Boat. Numerous bars, cafés and restaurants offering international food invite you to laze around in the company of the excellent gastronomic offer.
Every summer the Lent Festival is held in Maribor. It is considered the largest Slovenian outdoor festival and one of the largest in Europe. At the time of the festival, Maribor turns itself into a city of youth, playfulness and sociability. Music, dance, street theatre and comedy events take place at around 40 venues, while the main events are located on the embankment of Lent.
Pohorje, a mountain range that rises above the town of Maribor and from there extends to the west. It is a beautiful natural green oasis with countless opportunities for relaxation and recreation.
Pohorje’s landscape is decorated by various natural attractions, such as, peat bogs and lakes, waterfalls and a primeval forest. There are many hiking and biking trails that crisscross this beautiful scenery. To ensure that one’s adrenaline will continue to flow there is an adventure park, summer toboggans, and a mountain bike – bike park. In winter, of course, there are a number of activities that are available on the snow. In the winter, Maribor Pohorje is transformed into one of the largest ski resorts in Slovenia. Pohorje’s specialty is the longest night skiing avaliable in Slovenia. The whole town is practically a ski resort, because you can get from the city centre to the foothills of Pohorje (ie. the bottom station of the Pohorska Vzpenjača Cable Car) in just 10 minutes by a city bus. The foothills of Pohorje are particularly lively during the Golden Fox – FIS Ski World Cup for Women, which is one of the biggest and most important sporting events at the destination.
Next to the natural attractions and rich sports and recreational facilities, Pohorje offers other genuine experiences. Whether for lovers of wine and gastronomy or those who want to seek relaxation in the wellness centres, Pohorje offers something for everyone.
Heaven for lovers of cycling: numerous widespread trails over the slopes of Pohorje and in the picturesque Maribor surroundings, and there are cycling clubs and other organisations to help and advise you about your unforgettable cycling adventure!
The people of Styria like to boast of their excellent food and drink.
This presumption is largely confirmed by the large amount of people who flock to the region for unforgettable gastronomic and wine related moments. These occasions are enhanced by the many backdrops a visitor can choose from: the animated city, the green of Pohorje during summer months, the white snow blanketing Pohorje in the winter, or on the slopes of sunlit vineyards.
Centuries have refined the Styria region’s unique gastronomy and famous Styrian wines. As a result, it is easy to find a good inn, vintage restaurant, tourist farm or wine cellar belonging to a renowned winegrower who will add to his culinary and viticultural masterpieces a hint of the characteristic Styrian hospitality.
The rich tradition of wine-making is symbolised by the oldest grapevine in the world growing and bearing grapes for more than 400 years on the riverbank of the Drava. The Old Vine Festival that takes place every year offers an ideal opportunity to get to know the rich wine-growing tradition and the exceptional wines offered by local wine-growers and inn-keepers.
Traditional dishes rich in taste often consist of pork, sauerkraut and turnips, beans, eggs, sour cream and cottage cheese, different types of cereals, and, of course, potatoes. The dishes are best accompanied by a white wine spritzer, pronounced “shpritzer.” The mixture of wine and sparkling mineral water is a very popular drink in the region. On the other hand, in the centre of Maribor there are numerous restaurants specialising in international cuisine; especially the Mediterranean and Balkan cuisine that has strong roots in the everyday life of the Styrians.
This post is also available in: Slovenian