Even though Maribor is Slovenia’s second-largest city it has only a third of the population of Ljubljana, and once you get there you’ll see that this shows in the type of atmosphere that pervades the place. It’s something more like a large provincial town than an economic, communications and cultural hub – which it also actually is.
Maribor is home to the only other university outside the capital, which was founded in 1975, as well as a major museum, a few galleries and a theatre that’s been around since 1786, so let’s talk a bit about a couple of these places.
The Maribor Regional Museum can be found within the Maribor castle and features one of the richest collections in the country which are located in about twenty rooms. The ground floor features exhibits revolving around archaeology, clothing and ethnography, as well as an interesting exhibit showing 19th-century beehive panels painted with biblical scenes.
The Maribor Castle itself is a 15th century castle which features a Knights’ Hall with a ceiling painting, a Baroque Chapel as well as a Rococo staircase – with pink walls, stucco work and all manner of figures located on the banisters. It’s quite the mix of styles, but this is to be expected considering that the current castle is located on the sight of an even older fortress.
Besides the castle, probably Maribor’s most popular attraction isn’t one that is man-made, well not completely at least. It’s an old grape vine that was planted more than four hundred years ago. Called the ‘Old Vine’, for obvious reasons, it still produces somewhere between 35 kilograms and 55 kilograms of grapes per year and about twenty-five litres of red wine. The vine is tended by a viticulturist that is appointed by the city, and the wine that it produces is a dark red called Black Velvet which is given to visiting dignitaries.