The old part of the town is squeezed between the Drava and Grajski hrib. The Ptuj Castle ( Ptujski grad ) is one of the largest and mightiest in Slovenia. There was a small castle on the same spot already during Roman times. They ’began to build the castle in the first millennium AD and new parts were gradually added up to the 17th century. Today the castle houses rich collections of the Ptuj Museum.
Ptuj is a monument town. The Romans called it Poetovio and many things remained from that period.
Situated at an important crossroads, Ptuj was progressing for 2000 years. But the progress stopped in the 18th century when the new road linking Ljubljana and Maribor bypassed it. After that Ptuj was only a local market for farm products and not even the railroad linking Pragersko to Čakovec in Croatia built-in 1860 couldn’t change that. It was only after WW II that the town began to flourish again.
At Markovci the Drava is dammed and the dam with a surface of around 3 square km is the largest damn in Slovenia.
All the way from Ptuj, between Slovenske gorice and the Drava, stretches the Ptuj Plain ( Ptujsko Polje ). In the east-west direction, it is crossed by the canal of the hydropower station Formin. From the Pesnica valley in Slovenske gorice flows the Pesnica which tums on the Ptuj Plain and flows into the Drava at Ormož. In the middle of the plain, at the mouth of the Pesnica valley, is Dornava. The village is known for its Baroque mansion house, built-in 1743, and surrounded by a large park.
Ptuj, the museum town, is like an island rising from the Drava river. The Ptuj castle housing the collections of the Ptuj Museum dominates over the old town core. Every year at Mardi Gras, Ptuj organizes a massive carnival, undoubtedly the largest in Slovenia. Typical of the Ptuj region and also of the carnival is kurent, a creature from the other world. It is supposed to be a sign of spring, fertility, and new life. But kurent is wrapped in a mystery, nobody knows which ancient times and beliefs it came from and what are its true intentions.
Velika Nedelja was a commendam of the German knights. There is a romantic legend associated with the origins of the Velika Nedelja Castle: Crusaders helped Frederich of Ptuj in its military march against the enemy army of the Magvar king Emerick. Frederick’s army won on Easter Sundav (also called Velika Nedelja -the “Hg Sunday ” in Slovene). Frederick stuck the crusaders ’flag in the soil and named the place Velika Nedelja after the occasion. The land was only presented to the crusaders by his son, Frederick II.
Ormož sits on the fringe of the Slovenske gorice, right above the Drava on which runs the state border with Croatia. It was settled already in the first century BC, At first by the Ilyirians and later by the Romans. At the end of the 12th century a defense tower, the base for the Ormož Castle, was built. Ormož acquired the status of a town in 1331. During the Turkish invasions, the castle was the most important fortification in Styria.
Near Ormož is the village of Velika Nedelja with a big church atop the hill above the village. Next to it is a 17th-century castle. In 1119 those parts came into the possession of Teutonic Knights who later on acquired huge estates and ruled over the area for centuries.
The eastern part of Slovenske gorice above Ormož is a famous wine-growing district. From Ormož, through the Pavlovski Potok valley, lead a road and a railroad to Ljutomer. Gentle hills are covered with vineyarđs. Clustered settlements are scarce but the road is lined with farmhouses. The best-known town is Jeruzalem, renowned for its premium white wines. A visitor can follow a well-marked wine route through the region.
Lenart v Slovenskih Goricah
Lenart was built on a low terrace above the Pesnica valley. It only developed in the 15th century. In the sanatorium for mentally retarded patients. Sadly, there are several other castles in Slovenia experiencing the same fate as Hrastovec.
The castle is situated in the Pesnica valley and can easily be spotted from the road linking Maribor and Lenart. There are some larger lakes in the valley which are actually all dams on Pesnica. Since the Pesnica used to flood the valley frequently, several dams were built and the floods stopped.
Not far from Lenart, on the edge of the Pesnica valley, by the road leading from Lenart to Ormož, is the lake Gradiško jezero. On the terrace above it lies another important Slovenske gorice market town: Gradišče. On top of the hill in the village sits the 17th century Baroque Church of the Holy Trinity, with three belfries. The settlement is also called Sveta Trojica ( the Holy Trinity ), after the church. It did not receive its market charter until 1872.
Through Jeruzalem and the wine-growing hills of Slovenske gorice leads a wine road. White wine coming from vineyards between Ljutomer and. Ormož is definitely the best in Slovenia. It is the home of noble wines known and appreciated all over the world.
Sveta Trojica is a settlement in the heart of the Slovenske gorice. It sits on a low ridge above Gradiško jezero. If you are in the search of carp, pike, pike-perch, or sheatfish trophy try the Radehova and Pristava fishponds near Lenart.
Lenart is the only important center in the Slovenske gorice. It was built on a rounded ridge above the Pesnica river. Lenart is famous for horse racing and competitions which are organized several times a year. The Slovenske gorice is full of sunflowers which are used for extracting oil.