The following story can be used in the Challenge:Future competition Old Stories 4 New Adventures.
Challenger: Ptuj-Ormož region
Story: Ptuj, treasure of millenia
“For me, the most beautiful is Ptuj.”This is how Dr. Federico Zeri, Italian art historian, who visited Ptuj several times as a researcher, described the city along the Drava River. Most probably the worldwide renewed connoisseur of art and admirer of beauty can be trusted. If not, the view of Ptuj from the right river bank or a stroll along town’s ancient streets and squares will convince the most persistent “doubting Thomases”.
Archaeological finds bear witness to the continuous human presence in the area since the Stone Age. They are arranged in various collections kept by the Regional museum Ptuj-Ormož, the biggest general museum in Slovenia, and for the past few years also the most visited. Numerous Roman monuments can be seen in the town itself attesting to the importance and wealth of Roman Ptuj – Poetovio. The town grew from a settlement situated close to the military camp in which a historic event of backing Vespasian in his claim to the Roman throne took place. The Roman historian Tacitus reported the event in his Historiae and thus Poetovio was first mentioned in writing in 69 AD. In the 3rd century AD Poetovio had its heyday and its population increased to some 30,000 inhabitants. Remains of luxurious villas, public houses, temples (among which Mithraea deserve special attention as some of them, found on the town’s territory, have been preserved in situ) speak of the fact that Poetovio was a lively and important administrative, commercial and cultural centre. It even became the see of a diocese, and one of the well known priests in Ptuj was the bishop St. Victorin of Ptuj, a Christian thinker and writer.
Already in the distant 8th century the layout of the medieval town core, so admired today, had started. In spite of countless repair works, restoration and rebuilding, which mainly occurred after devastating fires, floods and invasions thus partly covering the original buildings, the spirit of centuries is present in every single ancient building in town. The second “golden” period lasted from 12th to 16th century. At that time, a mighty fortress was built anew above the city and was managed for three centuries by a well known family – the Lords of Ptuj. During their tenure, Dominican and Minorite friars came to Ptuj to take care of spiritual life; both monasteries, mighty buildings, marked the town in a decisive way, as, in architectural terms, they gave it its triangular shape. Inside defensive walls, the town grew into a lively commercial and trade centre of European significance boasting more than 200 trade fairs per year and equal warehouse rights to those in Vienna, Austria. The Town Statute from 1376, still thought of as exemplary in terms of medieval town legislation, precisely regulated all aspects of everyday life. The prosperity of the town and its surroundings was described by Paolo Santonino, the chancellor of Aquileia, in 1487 when he visited Ptuj. “In the years of rich harvest the Ptuj area, however, has bread, wine and meat in abundance, since at that time you can get two young well-fed bulls for four ducats, while two loaves of bread, soft and light as a feather and so white that I have never seen whiter before, are sold for a soldo.”
The Turkish threat did no real harm to the town; on the contrary, as the town played an extremely important role in the defensive system along the southern border of the Habsburg monarchy, it was never neglected and life went on practically undisturbed. It was a bit later though, when Ptuj suffered different hardships and was bypassed by some new important connecting roads, that some of its glamour was lost for good.
In spite of those difficult times, Ptuj was a lively cultural and educational centre in 18th and 19th centuries with a grammar school, a theatre, a reading club, numerous cultural associations and a museum. Tourists from abroad started to discover Ptuj and all town chronicles exhaustively report on first “true” tourists.
Today, Ptuj is called the oldest town in Slovenia, the town-museum, treasures of millennia. However, Ptuj today is a lively modern town; a town of thousands of young people seeking proper education; a cultural centre with countless cultural events for all generations all year round; a carnival town boasting one of the biggest carnivals in Europe; a town of wine with the oldest wine cellar still in use and more than two thousand-year-old viticultural tradition; a town of hundreds of culinary specialities particularly in May when Ptuj hosts the national exhibition of traditional Slovene cuisine. Thermal spa Terme Ptuj developed from the thermal water source found in 1969, exactly 1900 years after Ptuj was first mentioned in the world history. In its vicinity there is a golf course offering an unforgettable view of the Ptuj castle. The wide and mighty river Drava and the artificial lake, the biggest water surface in Slovenia, offer ideal possibilities for various water sports. There are as many as four bridges spanning the River: street, railway and pedestrian ones, and the latest one, built only in 2007 named after Janez Puh (Johann Puch), renowned inventor and engineer who was born in the immediate vicinity of Ptuj.
Well – all this and more is Ptuj.
For more information please consult:
vine cellar Ptujska klet
Thermal Spa Centre Terme Ptuj
Ptuj Regional Museum
Etnographic Society Kurent
STB about Ptuj
: Dejan Podgoršek, firstname.lastname@example.org