The Slovenia Times

The Town with Not One Heart, but Three



The town of Radenci lies on the border of the Pannonian Plain in the northeastern part of Slovenia, in the picturesque landscape along the Mura River. Close to the borders with Austria, Croatia and Hungary, the first mention of the place in writing was in 1436. In 1833, medical student Karl H discovered a mineral water wellspring in Radenci, and described his first experience with ''bublja'' (an old Slovene word for a thermal wellspring) with the following text: As the carriage was slowly moving through Radenci, in those times called Radein in German, the cabby turned back to me and asked, ''Can you hear how the bublja hisses and burbles today? The witches are getting ready for a ball tonight!'' And indeed I heard a spooky hissing sound which made me feel a bit uneasy in the magical moonlight. Slightly frightened, I asked what this strange water sound was, and the cabby replied, ''It's a wellspring, and underneath the witches boil dumplings in a huge cauldron; they use them to ruin our crops in the fields. When you hear such burbling and hissing, you know a thunder with hailstones is coming up!'' Upon returning from my holidays, I remembered the cabby's story and decided to check the scary wellspring up close. I saw a wellspring with water gathering behind a wooden frame, and the surrounding area looked a bit swampy. It seemed as if the water was literally boiling in the centre of the spring; countless differently-sized bubbles were rising up, hissing, popping and moving the frame. I reckoned it might be a wellspring with mineral water and hurried to get the reagents to determine its substances. My prediction was right - the water was indeed rich in minerals, and its fierce boiling indicated an abundance of carbon acid. Hthe high-quality mineral water, naturally rich in carbon dioxide, that he was after. He named the first spring Radenska slatina (Radenska mineral water) after the Slovene name for the town of Radenci, and started bottling the Radenska mineral water in 1869. Soon afterwards, discussions and articles on the healing properties of mineral water for treating various medical conditions began catching the attention of European doctors. The articles also praised the refreshing taste of Radenska mineral water and - not surprisingly, since the water came from a wine region - people found that it combined very well with fruit juice and tart wine. Another variation was a version of the mineral water with extra carbonation, and this drink acquired the nickname Slatinski sampanjec (mineral champagne). The excellent taste of Radenska water and a thorough analysis of its composition done in 1871 ranked it among the most renowned mineral waters in Europe; it became the mineral water of choice at the Imperial Court of Vienna and the papal palace in Rome. In 1919, Radenska was recognized as a mineral water with healing properties. The symbol of three red hearts has been in use since 1936 and the brand name Radenska Tri srca (Radenska Three Hearts) is one of the oldest brand names in Slovenia, now known the world over. In the former Yugoslavia, Radenska became so well known that its name began to be used as a general name for mineral water. The logo of the three red hearts is also used with the Radenska PLC tourism company due to its recognizability on the market. In 1961, a new bottling plant was opened in Boracevo to expand Radenska's product range with low calorie, non-alcoholic beverages based on Radenska mineral water. In 2002, Radenska was taken over by Pivovarna Lasko (Lasko Brewery) in a friendly takeover with the goal of expanding the sales territory locally and globally. From 37,000 bottles a year in 1870, production has risen to a million bottles of water a year. The Spa of Presidents Roman H Terapija Hotel in Radenci. In 1890, a railway was built, making the transport of water abroad much easier. Several Secession villas were built by H's sisters to accommodate wealthy guests from all over Europe; after WWII these included President Tito of former Yugoslavia, his wife Jovanka and many other prominent public figures. The beautiful spa park is now protected as a natural monument; it consists of a rose garden with sunny and shady sides, an outdoor Olympic pool (the first such pool in the Pomurje region) and more than 70 exotic types of trees and bushes. The park is very well suited for a lazy stroll, and while there you could also visit the Museum of Radenska at Marijin dom (Mary's House). This historical villa from 1894 now houses an exhibition on the development of spa tourism in Radenci and the history of Radenska mineral water from 1869 up to the present. Prior arrangements for visiting are necessary, call +386 (0) 2 520 2020 or +386 (0) 2 520 1094. The sad thing is that the now-abandoned villas, the music pavilion and the restaurant have suffered heavily from the denationalisation process, which halted their renovation. It seems as if no one knows what to do with these beautiful old buildings. Let's hope that soon they will be revitalised and that this national treasure will continue to be available for all to cherish and enjoy. The reality is, however, that walking past those dark, silent windows you can almost visualize the former splendour which attracted the well-to-do guests of the past, and will certainly wish that the web of money and politics would come to their rescue in the present. On the other side of the park, the new spa (modernized in 1996) offers the latest modern technology for cardiovascular diagnostic treatment, balneotherapy, physiotherapy, various Ayurveda wellness and fitness programs, and an indoor and outdoor swimming pool complex with thermal water, measuring 1,460 sq m. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the owners and the politicians will realize soon enough that it would be a crying shame to leave the birthplace and heart of the complex to rot. The Marathon Radenci is a well-known town among runners, for it hosts the "Three Hearts Marathon". It is an international event which adds to the significance of the town. Taking place in mid-May, thousands of runners try to finish at least a half marathon if the distance of 42.195 km is too much for them. Fortunately the route is all asphalt and mostly free of hills, so it isn't too difficult for those who are prepared. At the end, regardless of the result, every participant receives a medal as confirmation of their achievement.


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