Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia. The city of the color purple or the city of violets, as I would say, as the local football team wears purple clothing and is proudly supported by the citizens.
The city held the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2012 and the European Youth Capital in 2013. It hosts the Golden Fox world cup ski competition for women in the near hill Pohorje for more than 50 years and organizes the biggest festival in Slovenia, named Festival Lent.
Today Maribor is not only a popular destination for tourists but as well a common choice for international students. A charming and cozy place, that Maribor is, is small enough to be explored by foot. Dressing up well in winter and putting a sun cream on in summer is a must.
I grew up in Maribor and by now I know it by heart. I am always happy to come back and I mostly enjoy it in the months of May, June and September, due to the most appropriate temperatures. I am sharing with you the parts of Maribor in the center or around it where I would bring any traveler.
Glavni trg / Main Square
The Main Square is, in my opinion, one of the most charming places in Maribor. The houses with the beautiful details and colorful facades immediately grab the attention of every visitor. In the middle of the line of the houses is a Town Hall with a small tower, built in the 15th century, and if you look closely, you will notice that the tower is not built in the middle of the building, but rather a bit on the right. The story says that the builder did it intentionally because of being paid less as agreed.
In front of the Town Hall stands a Plague Pillar, a monument dedicated to the times from the 17th century, when the plague killed around a third of the population of the city.
The area is very interesting to be explored, since a visitor can notice many details and interesting buildings (such as the old Casino). In the direction of the river Drava are many narrow typical streets that lead to the water (such as Mesarski prehod, Splavarski prehod, a bit more further Žički prehod). Today the square offers many places to sit for a coffee and is occasionally used for markets or events.
Židovski trg / Jewish Square
The Jewish quarter of the city, as it was known in the past, is surrounded with Synagogue and the Jew’s tower that is today a Photo gallery. It offers a view of the Water Tower, Faculty of Medicine (a modern building on the other side of the river Drava) and Pohorje, a hill that is rising above the city.
I especially like it because it is a peaceful place. Underneath a tree in the middle is a big bench to sit, rest and enjoy a good weather.
Lent is the oldest part of Maribor next to river Drava. Absolutely worth to visit to see the oldest vineyard in the world and the Old Wine House next to it. A walk takes you to the Venice part of Lent, the Judgement Tower, the renewed Puppet Theatre, and a city market (it is recognized it by the upside-down turned white umbrellas).
Lent is a place where the main stages of the biggest festival in Slovenia is held every year, named Festival Lent. It starts on around 23rd of June and offers a variety of events, activities, concerts and food experiences.
While being on Lent, you will have a sight of the red Main Bridge or also known as the Old Bridge, that was built in 1913. If you want to have a beautiful view on the whole Lent, simply cross the bridge and visit the river on the other side.
Cathedral of the St. John the Baptist is located at the Slomškov trg or Slomšek square and it’s history goes all the way back into the 12th century. There is a possibility to visit the tower of the church at the certain hours, where you can catch a beautiful view of the city.
The Slomšek Square is named after Bishop Anton Martin Slomšek (1800-1862), who was proclaimed beatified personally by Pope John Paul II, during pope’s second visit of Slovenia in 1999.
The Slomšek Square is as well surrounded with other interesting building, such as the main Post Office, the University of Maribor and the Theatre.
Poštna Street and Gosposka Street
While Poštna Street is not a big sightseeing spot, it is worth to visit, especially on Friday or Saturday evening. By day it is a nice spot for lunch or coffee and in later hours a common place to hang out. You may even catch live music coming from a small stage in the middle of the street.
Gosposka Street was the main shopping street in the past. As later, due to the opening of the stores with known brands and big shopping malls near, the citizens rather chose the better-known products, free parking and weather insensitive walking area. However, the street is becoming more and more alive in the recent years, with the handcraft stores and bakeries, and I definitely advise anyone to take a walk through it and look at what it offers.
Trg Leona Štuklja / The Leon Štukelj Square
The Leon Štukelj Square is known to be the largest square in Slovenia. It is called after Leon Štukelj, a lawyer and an Olympic winner in gymnastics, who lived in the city of Maribor. As the oldest living Olympic medalist at the time, he was a special guest at the opening of the Olympic games in Atlanta in 1996. He died at the age of 100 and was known to be sportive and active until his last days.
Today the square is used for various events and concerts, especially on St. Martin’s Day (11th of November, when the grape juice turns into wine) and New Year’s Eve. It is especially charming after the sunset when the lights above the square turn on and create a mystical place with the geometric scene above.
Frančiškanska cerkev / Fransiscan Church
A high red church with two towers with green roofs is noticeable already from the distance. The church was built in the 19th century, from the monastery that was at the time standing there for already around 700 years. The church is really beautiful, from inside and outside. It is worth to stop by and enter. I recommend a walk around it in order to get a better feeling of the size of the building.
Trg svobode / Liberty Square
The square is easy to be recognized by a big dark monument, on which, if looking carefully, you can notice the prints of the faces. This is a National Liberation Monument, that locals call »Kodžak«. On the floor part of the monument, you can notice the writings. Those are the proclamations about the shootings of hostages during World War II and a farewell letter of Jože Fluks.
While being on the Liberty Square you will be standing above one of the largest and oldest classic wine cellars in the Middle Europe, named Vinag. On the other side of the square is a big barrel and next to it the entrance, that offers guided tours through the tunnels that go under the city, and wine tasting.
The square has an ice rink for ice skating in winter and many small cottages where you can try local food or drink mulled wine (or cooked wine, as some may call it). In warm months there are occasional events and markets offering homemade and domestic products.
Grajski trg / Castle Square
Already the name Grajski trg or the Castle Square reveals that the place played an important role in the past. The castle from the 15th century stands on the side of the square and is today a Regional Museum of Maribor. In front of it, on a high column, stands the statue of St. Florian, placed there in hope that it will protect the city from fires.
Today Grajski trg is surrounded by bars and restaurants. It is a common place for the locals to sunbathe while drinking coffee and catching up with friends. Occasionally smaller organized events, markets or concerts take place in the middle.
City Park, Three Ponds and Piramida
City Park is one of my favorite areas of Maribor, especially for photographs. With many walking paths, benches, ponds and playgrounds, it is a place that is very appreciated by the locals.
It occasionally offers events, group exercises and in the time of Festival Lent various activities. At the lower part is an aquarium terrarium and up the park are three beautiful ponds.
While walking through the park you will notice a small chapel on the top of the hill, above the vineyards. It is called Piramida and it is a place of Maribor’s first castle. Piramida offers a great view on the whole city and the hill Pohorje. From June 2017 Piramida has a terrace where visitors can sit and enjoy a drink (a glass of some good Slovene wine for example). Take a walk up and enjoy.