Close to the Austrian border, the small city of Maribor flourished for years under Austro-Hungarian rule as a German exclave and capital of the region known as Styria. During World War II, this area of Slovenia was annexed by Nazi Germany and Maribor became a major supplier of arms for the Axis powers. Accordingly, it was heavily bombed by the Allies throughout the war and the Germans that remained were expelled after it was over.
With Slovenian independence in 1991, the city experienced record levels of unemployment because of the loss of a ready market in Yugoslavia. But today the city, which lies on the river Drava in a lush, green valley, is Slovenia’s second biggest and retains much of its Old World charm. Lent, the area directly on the river, is a maze of small houses and even smaller lanes with street cafés, bars and restaurants.
The European Union designated Maribor a European Capital of Culture in 2012. In conjunction with this nomination, the city hosted several festivals and special events throughout the year.
PUBLISHED: July 22, 2013