Maribor is the capital of the slovenian Region of Lower Styria (Štajerska) in the heart of Slovenia, and the second largest city of the country (approximately 112,000 inhabitants including ethnic minorities) after the capital Ljubljana. Its geographical position is perfect, at a wonderful meeting point among the Pohorje mountains, Drava Plain and Valley, the Kozjansko hills and Slovenske Gorice hills. Thanks to the proximity to the Pohorje mountains, Maribor is also known as 'the city under the green Pohorje massif'.
It was born around the banks of the Drava River, throughout the ages it became the center of a vigorous trade, today it is becoming increasingly more popular in developing sport, culture and tourism. The history of Maribor is long and full of painful events occurred over centuries, recently it was under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, claimed by the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs thanks to the slovene Major Rudolf Maister, annexed to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and then invaded by Hitler's Third Reich. Only in 1991, Slovenia gained independence among many economic difficulties, partly overcome by the proximity to Austria which made it a thriving center of trading and transportation, moreover the natural beauties of the place, the architectural features inevitably influenced by its important history, many accommodation facilities and entertainment centers scattered everywhere and the perfect weather conditions soon turned Maribor into a very desirable tourist destination. The Pohorje mountains offer 40 Kms of wonderful slopes covered in snow, an irresistible attraction for skiers, hikers and extreme-sports lovers, moreover during the rest of the year the peaceful banks of the Drava River will be the ideal place where to take a break. Maribor is perfect for all seasons...even the most demanding wine connoisseurs will be attracted by this so picturesque city, its wonderful vineyards are in fact one of the main attractions, this is also due to the fact that Maribor holds a prestigious record, the lovely Lent, the oldest part of the city, is home to the world's oldest vine (Stara trta) that has thrived (and thrives even today) for more than 400 years; the lively calendar of events offered throughout the year shows how important this treasure for Maribor is.
The city is full of surprises and dream scenarios and has a lot to offer its visitors, the wonderful old town, located on the left bank of the Drava River is worth mentioning and visiting, it always gives great emotions. Not only tourism, but also culture, built in 1852, the first theater of the city houses today the main office of the most important institutions of the Slovenian National Theater in Maribor while in 1859 was founded the first theological seminary. In 2012 the city has been more interesting than ever appeared, as a famous university center, it was actively involved in various cultural events, meetings, seminars, the ideal place for students, teachers, researchers, intellectuals of all kinds, for these reasons Maribor was chosen as the 'European Capital of Culture', a very prestigious title that has changed the city's image and raised its visibility and profile on an international scale, a long-awaited event with a busy calendar for the whole year that has attracted the world-wide attention; Maribor solemnly opened the event at Leon Štukelj Square (Trg Leona Štuklja) in the presence of distinguished personalities and about 1200 people enjoying the festive atmosphere.
The square, located just behind the Franciscan Church (Frančiškanska Cerkev), has a surface of 9000 square meters and shows how important the sport for Slovenes is; it was in fact named after the olympic champion Leon Štukelj (1898-1999), a legend in gymnastics and holder of a prestigious title, 'oldest living Olympic gold medalist' (Paris, 1924 - Amsterdam, 1928), it is said that Štukelj still exercised regularly until even just before his death, only four days short of his 101st birthday. After a short period of works, the square renovations have been completed just in view of this wonderful event, it is well connected with the surrounding urban fabric and without doubts the real landmark for everybody who will also enjoy the pleasure of living 2013 when Maribor will attract again the world-wide attention as 'European Youth Capital'.