Ptuj is the oldest city in Slovenia, which plays a unique role in the country's tourism due to its festivals. These festive events pay tribute to the city's remarkable cultural and historical heritage. The town's history is also tangible in the form of numerous monuments.
The city is located in the eastern part of the country, on the banks of the River Drava, and is the most visited by tourists from Ljubljana. Travellers will come here like a traditional small Slovenian town, but they will be pleasantly surprised.
The history of Ptuj dates back to the Stone Age, but its heyday came in Roman times. The name of the town was given by Emperor Trajan, who christened the province Colonia Ulpia Traiana Poetovio.
Map - Where is Ptuj?
Address, distance, approach
Ptuj is one of the most visited towns in Slovenia. The city is located in the northeastern part of Slovenia. The beautiful town along the Drava is 30 minutes from Maribor and approx. 1.5 hours from Ljubljana.
- Distance from Ljubljana: 1.5 hours / 140 km
- Distance from Maribor: 30 minutes / 30 km
- Distance from Celje: 45 mins / 65 km
- Distance from Rogla, Pohorje: 70 mins / 75 km
The document first mentions the city during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. During the Romans, Ptuj became a military, economic, and administrative centre. It had more than 40,000 inhabitants, and the city has not had such a large population since then.
It was given the title of town in 1376, after which it began to prosper, but only until the Turkish wars. In addition to fighting, epidemics, floods and fires have also made life difficult for locals.
Today, Ptuj is the economic hub of the Podravje region, a town of fairs, full of hiking opportunities and wine cellars proudly serving local wines. The city’s spas are also worth a visit for those looking to relax and recover.
Attractions of Ptuj
#1 The Ptuji Castle
The hill on which the castle stands was inhabited since prehistoric times. Because it is strategically located, the feudal lords also showed a keen interest in it in the Middle Ages. The original castle was built in the 10th century and now has only a tower.
In the 12th century, when its condition had already significantly deteriorated, the Archbishop of Salzburg ordered the construction of a new castle on its site, which would be his glorious residence. Of this, the Leslijev wing has survived to this day.
Reconstructions of the Renaissance and Baroque erections considerably changed the castle's appearance. Today it functions as a museum, with valuable collections of musical instruments from the wealthiest families of Ptuj on the ground floor.
The most impressive rooms of the castle are on the first floor, with contemporary 16th - 19th-century furniture, paintings, carpets, and everyday objects. On the second floor, you can see traditional carnival costumes and masks. The art gallery of the castle has the most beautiful baroque and gothic collections in Slovenia.
#2 Mithras Shrine
Another main attraction of Ptuj is the shrine of Mithras from antiquity. Mithraism is a religion of Persian origin spread by Roman soldiers in Europe. Only those who swore to keep the secret could attend the religious ceremonies.
Near Ptuj stands the oldest shrine of the Upper Danube, Mithras, discovered by the archaeologist Graz Wilhelm Gurlitt in 1888-1889. It can be seen from the inscriptions that the construction of the sanctuary was probably in the 2nd century. A total of three such shrines have been found in and around Ptuj.
#3 Orpheus column
One of the most important monuments in the city, the Orpheus Column, also dates from this period. In front of the City Tower, on the Slovenian Square, stands this 5 m high marble monolith, which has become a symbol of Ptuj. It was erected in honour of Marcus Aurelius Vera, who ran the city at the time.
It was used as a cloak in the Middle Ages, the sinners were chained to it with an iron ring to publicly embarrass them. The Orpheus Column is the oldest monument in Slovenia, still in its original location.
#4 Ptuj City Tower
Behind it, the City Tower dominates the view. The parish priest Simon Povoden built antique objects on the wall of the Gothic-style tower in 1830, creating the country’s oldest open-air museum, the Povodonov Museum.
#5 City Hall
The town hall was built in 1906-1907 by Austrian architect Max Ferstl. Today, municipal offices operate in it.
#6 St. George Parish Church
To the east of Ptuj is the parish church of St. George, which has undergone many renovations, yet retains its original Gothic appearance. Its choir benches become the glory not only of the church but also of the country, as they are the oldest benches in Slovenia, made in 1446.
Fairs and festivals
Ptuj hosts many fairs, festivals and carnivals in the tradition. One of the largest of these is the Carnival of Slovenia, where men wearing strange costumes and masks try to drive away evil spirits with a huge noise.
This traditional celebration is the most important in the life of Ptuj, which is why it is worth scheduling the trip during the carnival. The George's Day Fair, the Feast of Catherine and the Christmas Fairs also take place in the spirit of tradition.
In the markets, you can buy many handicrafts and local delicacies, while immersed in Slovenian culture.