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For Slovenia this is where it all began; a humble, half-hamlet of a town perched on a mound by the edge of the meandering Drava River. It’s thought that Celtic tribes were settled here by the Iron Age, eventually drawing the eye of Flavian emperors and Slavic princes, which goes a long way to explaining Ptuj’s veritable overload of historical wonders and cultural gems for a city of its size!
Of course, the interest is centred on the citadel itself, at the horseshoe-shaped Ptuj Castle, shrouded by pines and pretty red-tiled buildings. This is a great place to case out the curious Austro-Hungarian flavour of the city’s later history, and offers exquisite panoramas over the town centre and the Styrian plains. Back down on the Slovenski trg (the city’s central square), Ptuj tourist guides point out the Roman monolith of the Orpheus Monument from the 2nd century, marked and scratched now after millennia of epochs. Nearby, along the Presernova Ulica stands the acclaimed Ptuj Regional Museum, which chronicles the story of this aged settlement from pre-history to the modern day, while shrines to Mithras (a curious Persian import to the region) pepper the monasteries on the outskirts of town.
But the past aside, Ptuj locals have also been known to impress their visitors with their spas, and displays of carnival and dance, not to mention some of the oldest wine labels in the country and a medley of Slovene buckwheat and curd cheese rolls to satisfy every foodie’s desire!