Slovenj Gradec – Peace Messenger City
Slovenj Gradec – a small town in the heart of Europe’s oldest cultural intersection of ancient routes of Western civilization is the city of respectable medieval tradition, which goes hand in hand with the modern life.
Tucked between mountains, Slovenj Gradec is a beating heart of the Mislinja valley. With its number of inhabitants, it is a small town, but when you take its creative tradition and institutions into account, its importance extends over many borders. Numerous exhibitions in the art gallery and events (some of them under the aegis of the UN) have brought the town closer to its foreign neighbours and that is how in 1989 Slovenj Gradec got the distinguished title of the Peace Messenger City. The purpose behind it is to promote the idea of less violent and more humane world, the world in which tolerance and mutual respect predominate in order to meet the requirements for a better understanding of peace based on justice and human rights. And peace, hospitality and serenity are one of the most distinguished features of the cultural center of the wider area.
The historical image of Slovenj Gradec and its surrounding area stretches back to pre-historic times. This may be traced in the remains of Illyrian and Celtic settlement called Colatio. The medieval town founded in the 13th century has survived centuries of turmoil but the town folk, together with foreign and native masters and artists, have managed to care for the image of the town. The old town centre has preserved its original outline, which today makes it an important monument of city planning. The focus on cultural and social life with a higher quality of living, that has remained right up to the present day has brought the city the GOLD AWARD in 2015 in the European competition of the regulation of towns and villages Entente Florale (organized by the Association Entente Florale Europe since 1975).
Slovenj Gradec has always been and still remains rooted within its historical and cultural tradition. One can take a journey to history in Carinthian Regional Museum or admire two and a half centuries old heritage of gingerbread and candle handcraft in one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia – Perger 1757 museum and gallery.
Since culture is a big aspect of a local life and inhabitans itself are involved in it through arhitecture, important buildings, institutions and people, local heritage, different events and festivals, the town has decided to participate in the project of the European Cultural Capital 2012, which was without any doubt the most important and ambitious project in the recent history of the town Slovenj Gradec.
The most important artistic, cultural and historical monuments, whose particular characteristics resonate in a wider cultural context, are scattered throughout the municipality of Slovenj Gradec. A stroll within the ruins of the medieval city wall reveals the Gothic church of the Holy Spirit and the church of St. Elizabeth. In the nearby surroundings the church of St. George at Legen, the ruins of Vodriž castle and the church of St. Pancras above Stari trg can be found. There are also some sites of ethnological interest that have been preserved, and among them we find many traditional Slovene hayracks (“kozolci”), old peasant houses, chapels and, here and there, a few old watermills and sawmills.
Slovenj Gradec was the birthplace and place of creativity of numerous important people, such as: one of the last European printers of the “Incunabula”, Mateuz Cerdonis; the Baroque painter Franc Strauss, the poet Ernst Goll, the sculptor Franc Berneker, the writers Franc Ksaver Meško and Ljuba Prenner, the painters Jože Tisnikar, Bogdan Borčič, Karel Pečko and many others. Traditional artisan work has also been handed down to contemporary masters, working from their homes. With the renovation of the birth house of the composer Hugo Wolf and a creation of the Memorial museum and International documentation information centre which holds a lot of concerts and music workshops, the town of Slovenj Gradec is (besides the culture of art) becoming more and more known as one of the small but important musical centers of Slovenia.
Off the beaten track
The surroundings of Slovenj Gradec are a special place, where the nature have kept its originality and a large part of its ancient beauty. The tempting and almost intact nature, immersed in the soft panorama of the hills full of forests, is attractive and beautiful in every season. Here and there, the waters from Pohorje and Uršlja gora create deep and narrow hollows, where the mists float in the morning and dissipate at noon, when the sun already heats meadows and fields.
Extensive forests with meadows and pastures are very attractive to hikers as well as cyclists and there are many marked trails for both. The area is interlaced with different footpaths: educational (e. g. Forest educational path), themed routes (e. g. The path of handicraft, Roman path, pilgrim paths …) and also paths that cross more countries (e. g. European footpath E6). Dense network of less busy roads, forest roads and bicycle paths offers numerous possibilities for biking and unforgettable and pleasant experience.
Slovenj Gradec offers many different options in the field of accomodation. One can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city center in the 3-star Hotel Slovenj Gradec or stay just a few minutes’ walk from the city core in the vicinity of hilly nature in Hostel Slovenj Gradec. If a tourist wants to really indulge in nature and typical old customs (including staying on the hayrack overnight), green surroundings of the urban area offers quite a few tourist farms. Private accommodations are more than ever trying to establish and maintain the sustainability that the mainly untouched and preserved nature deserves.
The tastes of Slovenj Gradec
The municipality of Slovenj Gradec is a hilly and mountanious region separated with numerous valleys, where life has always been difficult and therefore the food more modest. But with the love and joy put into the preperation of food, our ancestors always knew how to prepare a true culinary experience with dishes such as “mavžlji” and “mežerli”. Potato (“repica”) and buckwheat along with porridge and mush (“močnik”), bread and smoky meat delicacies (“zelh”) were and still are a typical part of the menu.
Time of the visit
As for the time of the visit – you are welcome anytime! Besides all of the listed tourist attractions our city hosts different tradicional events throughout the year, that will satisfy every kind of taste.
Slovenj Gradec is beautiful in every season and part of the day – surrounded with sunny and green hilltops or snowy mountain peaks and in all of the misty morning glory or in the mysterious twilight when sun is descending behind “our” Uršlja gora mountain turning the sky into the most amazing colour show.