The Slovenia Times

If Only Drava Could Tell Its Memories...



Ptuj owes everything to its privileged geographical position on the fertile river plains of the Drava River and to several important trade routes. This area has always been on the crossroads of many vibrant trading and migrational routes. It was also the easiest place to ford the wild river, which provided food and water for the settlement. The first people settled in the area around 3,000 BC. The flat lands around Ptuj are quite striking to see for those arriving from other parts of Slovenia, and invariably accentuate the castle. The main activity in these hilly areas is wine production; vineyards cover the sunny sides of the slopes and forests the shadowy ones. . The Roman age is a defining period for the old Petovio (Roman name for Ptuj). In the centuries after the Romans, various peoples came and went, built and destroyed and fought for these fertile lands. The river saw them all; from the late Stone Age settlers, through to the Celts and Romans, who left their mark and the first vestiges of civilisation. The hardships endured by the people of this region often provided inspiration for some of Slovenia's most celebrated literary talents, who used them as central motives or characters in their works. . Sadly, this area experienced heavy emigration after the Second World War, and was virtually forgotten about until recently. The good news is that the region is relatively untouched, although it is now waking up to the benefits of tourism and offers a genuinely warm reception to the increasing number of visitors. Although the township of Ptuj has a little more than 23,000 permanent residents, it is also the administrative, education and cultural centre of a much larger area, covering approximately 15 municipalities and 69,000 people. Its medieval centre and well-known festivals are increasingly attracting tourists to the town and its environs. Attractive in All Aspects Ptuj hosts a wealth of both older attractions and modern amenities. Among Ptuj's attractions are castles and monasteries, with architectural points of interest in the town centre including monuments and statues that are waiting to be explored. The Ptuj Castle, on top of the Castle Hill, has long been Ptuj's stronghold, with written records suggesting that a built castle was already in existence in the 11th century. Used mainly as a fortress against looming Turkish invasions, the castle has had a long and varied history, as it has been destroyed and re-built throughout the centuries several times. The remaining, so-called tournament field, is said to hail from the 9th and 10th centuries, though its today's image is much different, as it has been converted into a museum right after World War II. Ancient relics surround Ptuj at every corner and at every point of the triangle that makes up the Ptuj's inner town core. The top belongs to the castle, and the other two points of interest are Ptuj's Dominican and Minorite Monasteries. Both date from the 13th century and have kept their role of a sanctuary, which attracts admiring visitors (particularly the Minorite Library), as they were built for the monks that first settled there. Walking around town on foot brings will reveal many of the town's architectural delights to you, such as various monuments and statues. St. Florijan's Statue stands tall in the middle of the Town Square, initially erected as a cry for help from Ptuj's 18th century inhabitants, who were worried about the town's safety. The Town Tower is one of the most memorable Ptuj landmarks; first recorded in the late 14th century, the tower was rebuilt in a smaller version in 1705. In the 19th century, it began housing the Povoden Museum, which is filled with Ptuj's antique relics. In comparison, the Town Hall seems very young, as it was built in 1907. It dominates the very centre of town life on the Town Square and houses the town's Municipality. Ptuj has kept up with the times, and its thermal baths present a particularly attractive leisure option for tourists. Though it is one of the smaller Slovenian wellness centres, its four outdoor and two indoor pools, healing springs and a wellness centre are a good share of luxury and pampering, while also taking care of the various rheumatoid and degenerative illnesses. The Ptuj Regional Museum displays the town's architectural, ethnographic, and cultural-historical wares, a library and permanent exhibits in the Dominican Monastery and the nearby castles. Vineyards and the Mighty River In Roman times, trade was the most important activity of this vital stronghold on the road to Pannonia. This continued to be the case throughout the Middle Ages, when Ptuj again straddled two important trade routes leading towards the sea. The town's activities, however, were increasingly influenced by the Turkish invasions, and supplying the frontier regions with wheat were particularly lucrative. When the road and rail track from Vienna and Trieste bypassed Ptuj, it lost its position as a leading trade centre in the region and had to reinvent itself. The town began to lean more heavily on agricultural produce and this is still the leading economic sector in the region. Perutnina Ptuj with its commercial poultry farms is one of the biggest companies in Ptuj. Industrial plants began to open after the Second World War; the most significant is probably the Talum aluminium factory in Kidricevo, however, heavy industry still lags a long way behind the agricultural sector. Its importance may soon be overtaken by the trade and services sectors, which have become very prosperous since the 1990s.


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