Maribor Stories and Tips

Trg Svobode - The Sadly Under-Used Heart of Maribor

Trg Svobode, Maribor Photo, Maribor, Slovenia

With there being several squares in the centre of Maribor it's easy to think, on first visiting the town, that you've hit the heart of the town, only to find another bigger and more impressive square. I would say that Trg Svobode - literally Freedom Square - should be referred to as the heart of the town, if indeed one needs to attach that name to any part.

The square is at the town end of Partizanska cesta (the other end being the bus station) and it is beside the castle (which fronts on to Grajski Trg). As soon as you see the square you will know that this is the perfect place for a market yet the food market is now at a recently (purpose) built site in Lent. However, each day a small number of market stalls - well, tables set up by traders - do appear on the square selling mainly fruit, vegetables and flowers. Alas, the number is disappointing. Any tourists visiting the town will not know that the main market is further away and will believe the market here is pretty poor. This is a particular shame since the Tourist Information Office is just over the road and most visitors will pass by the square.

Occasionally a flea market is held on the square but these are irregular at best and only ever have a handful of stalls. It would be nice if these were better promoted and perhaps some of the stall holders who turn up at the excellent flea market in the capital week after week might drop by one time.

In winter a chestnut seller stands with his brazier at the edge of the square and the smell of the roasting nuts drifts over the square and makes it quite atmospheric.

Standing in the square is a curiously shaped monument - like a sphere with a stripey blanket over it. It is a monument to the dead of the National Liberation War and was designed by Slavko Tihec and installed here in 1975. The locals often refer to it as "kodzak" - or "Kojak" and thinking about the seventies TV show you can kind of see why.

Another "monument" in the square is more obvious - it's a large wooden wine barrel that stands outside Vinag - the wine company. You can take a guided tour of the cellars which includes a wine tasting afterwards. You do need to be part of a group and tours are in English or German - if you are travelling independently, ask if there are any groups in your language (so long as that's English or German) and ask if you can tag along. You could even give a mobile number and they could call you if a tour is arranged after your enquiry. It's funny to think when you are standing on Trg Svobode that there are 20,000 square metres of wine cellars under your feet!

On the corner, just next to the Vinag entrance is the Consulate of Croatia, housed in a smart white building. Looking up past the next square - Trg General Maistra - from here you get a great view of Piramida, one of the striking hills to the north of the town centre which is covered in rows and rows of vines.

We have been visiting/living in Maribor since 2007 and only very recently has a cafe been set up in the square - and this was only for a limited time. Hopefully it will be back this summer - it's a lovely spot and a great place to people watch. From time to time concerts are held in the square such as on New Years Eve and its only then that you feel the square is being well-used.

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