2 December 2020
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Maribor is Slovenia’s second-biggest city, and the economic and cultural centre of north-eastern Slovenia. The city’s rich roots stretch as far back as the Middle Ages when the city first began to flourish. Also known as “the city of wine,” Maribor is famed for its long winemaking tradition. Its current goals of becoming a booming city and robust regional centre, however, are thoroughly modern – thanks to new development plans, promising projects, and dynamic ambition.

Author: Barbara Matijašič
Photo: Shutterstock

If there was a single sentence that could encapsulate Maribor, it would probably read something like this: The central city of the Styrian region of Slovenia, nestled among the green Pohorje Mountains and sunny wine-growing hills. As a city with rich historical and cultural roots, it naturally offers top-notch cultural events and a wealth of festivals. Its winemaking tradition is epitomised by the world’s oldest vine growing in the heart of a city surrounded by vineyards and wine roads. The riverbed of the Drava River, which dissects the city, plays an exceptional role in Maribor’s identity, economy, and tourism. Historically, the river was an important shipping route. Even the roots of the Old Vine stretch into the river basin. The city’s wine industry, therefore, has grown on water carried by Drava. Over the years, Maribor has experienced highs and lows, but each time, ambition, vision, and strength brought the city back to life and continued to open up new avenues for development. Today, the modern face of Maribor promotes co-living of generations, a city in harmony with itself and its people.

“We want to make life in our city better for everyone. Our wish is to make the quality of living in Maribor attractive to all generations and, at the same time, meet modern trends in the field of sustainable development"

Saša Arsenovič - mayor of Maribor

New projects to pump fresh blood into the town centre and make its heartbeat stronger and faster

The regulation of traffic is critical because of its impact on the quality of life – particularly since it seeks to promote mobility at the same time as a cleaner environment. The key objectives for the city are to improve traffic flow while also increasing safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. A newly-constructed road-rail underpass on Ljubljanska cesta (open since November 2019) will meet both objectives. Furthermore, the Main Square (Glavni trg) and Koroška Street (Koroška ulica) are to be redeveloped as a common traffic area in which pedestrians and cyclists are treated on equal footing as motorised traffic.

"By regulating traffic flow, we wish to moderate motor traffic in the medieval city centre and preserve our cultural heritage.“

Saša Arsenovič - mayor of Maribor

The revitalisation of the medieval core – the Court Tower (Sodni stolp) and Military Square (Vojašniški trg) – will complement already-exciting tourism activities and help Maribor maintain its role as a cultural and tourist centre. The project includes the renovation of the former guesthouse “Tri babe” (“Three wenches”) with the addition of a new pavilion, which will benefit the cultural institutions in this neighbourhood – the Puppet Theater (Lutkovno gledališče) and the Minorite Church (Minoritska cerkev). The re-establishment of the Vineyard Museum (Vinogradniški muzej) will offer a shining new frame to the city’s old masterpiece of nature, the Old Vine, further emphasising Maribor’s history as a wine-growing area.

“This will help to improve the quality of stay in our city. We will arrange both the left and right banks of the Drava River, the so-called Drava Promenade, a 13-kilometre long walking path and a cycle path between Maribor Island and the Malečniški bridge (Malečniški most). The promenade will connect both sides of the Drava, where children play, and there will be skate parks, outdoor fitness, pitchers, benches, new avenues, etc.”

Saša Arsenovič - mayor of Maribor

According to Slovene Statistics, Maribor received almost 202,300 tourists in 2018, up 13% from 2017, and the number of nights tourists spent in the city reached a record 451,610, an increase of 36%. This trend highlights the opportunities for further investment in the leading tourist attractions, as well as the need to strengthen cooperation with partners both within Slovenia and abroad. Another milestone is due by the end of 2020, when updates to railway infrastructure are completed. The train journey from the capital Ljubljana to Maribor, city-centre-to-city-centre, will be reduced to an hour and a half! This will be a major attraction in the age of hellish congestion and frequent road accidents.

This year festival lent will take places from 21 aUgust, until 29 aUgust 2020.

Another vital revitalisation project is the refurbishment of the riverfront area. The banks of the Drava River present a remarkable opportunity for building on Maribor’s identity, economy, and tourism. The rejuvenation of Lent (one of the oldest and largest open-air festivals in central Europe), and the establishment of a new river recreation zone will also provide spaces for socialising in the wider city centre, to further improve Maribor’s potential.

Another milestone is due by the end of 2020, when updates to railway infrastructure are completed. The train journey from the capital Ljubljana to Maribor, city-centre-to-city-centre, will be reduced to an hour and a half! This will be a major attraction in the age of hellish congestion and frequent road accidents.

Green development action plan

The new mayor’s team sees it as its duty to preserve both the city’s cultural heritage and natural environment. Maribor can boast with extremely rich cultural life, fascinating medieval history, and the glorious Pohorje Mountains so close they can be reached by a regular city bus line. The city is following the development trends of modern capitals, and the municipality has a strong desire to protect the environment from traffic fumes and energy-wasteful buildings.

“The only right course of development is green and sustainable, by keeping the conservation of nature and environment in mind.”

Saša Arsenovič - mayor of Maribor

“This will be achieved by actively promoting sustainable forms of mobility – In addition to the use of city buses, the development and renovation of the cycling network is a priority for the development of municipal transport infrastructure in this area. In October 2019, the city began to redesign cycling routes, with the goal of establishing a long continuous cycling link between the city’s neighbourhoods and local communities. We are convinced that a good cycling connection between the city and its surroundings will help foster the conditions for modifying travel habits of the city, and will also attract tourists who will be able to explore the city and its surroundings,” added Saša Arsenovič.

As part of its sustainable development strategy, the city of Maribor has (in cooperation with public partners) set itself the goal of becoming the Green Capital of Europe in 2022. Thus, the efforts of the city have moved towards reducing harmful emissions and promoting more green spaces, which will simultaneously raise the quality of life in the city. Trees are being planted in the city’s parks, and green belts are expanding. The drinking water from the city’s supply system is of such a high quality that several public fountains are being planned.

The future is bright

Maribor might be the centre of north-eastern Slovenia but it is far from being the only one. Drava River and Pohorje Mountains offer potential to the whole region, which could become a leading European destination that connects cultural, culinary, wine and sports offerings.

The relaxed and pleasant atmosphere of Maribor is the fruit of its diverse history. In this amazing city, everyone can find their own story.

Adriatic Journal

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