Maribor - Slovenska Bistrica - Statenberg - Ptujska gora
We can travel from Maribor to Slovenska Bistrica by the highway, but the road going through older settlements on the Pohorje foothills is more interesting. Leaving Maribor, our attention is drawn to the right, where St. Michael's Church in Razvanje from before 1125 and Castle Hompos - also called Pohorje Palace from between 985 and 1124 - are most impressive. A pre-historic and an antique graveyard with some fifty units are located in the vicinity. The first larger settlement on the road is spodnje Hoce. The pre-parish St. George's Church is already mentioned by 1146, though it was probably constructed in the XI century. The main altar was crafted by Jozef Holzinger. A few kilometres after leaving Hoce, we arrive at Slivnica, with a pre-parish Church of Our Lady, also mentioned for the first time in 1146. It was also probably originally constructed in the XI century. The Slivnica Castle, not far from here, was first mentioned in 1428. It was renovated in the XIX century, modelled on the English Neogothic castle style. We pass Radizel, Fram ancl Zgornja Polskava. Before entering Slovenska Bistrica, observed from the ridge an affiliate church of St. Joseph, from the XVIII century, in the late Baroque style, is visible at quite a distance. There is a nice view of Slovenska Bistrica, Dravinjske gorice and southern Pohorje from here. On the slopes around Kovaca vas and Ritoznoj, top quality vine is grown. A settlement at the location of Slovenska Bistrica had probably been formed before the first half of the XIII century, with a nuceus at Gradisce, a trapeze form square to the east of the present Trg svobode. Slovenska Bistrica acquired its city (Charter) rights in the XIV century. When the town came under Habsburg ownership, Slovenska Bistrica began - to a greater extent - to compete with Ptuj, which was owned by the Salzburg bishops. In the XVI century, the city was damaged by the Turks, while in the XVIII century it was damaged by a fire. There is a fine castle, worth seeing in the town, dating from the XIII century, which had soon become the seat of the land court of justice. Not much has remained of the original castle. The foundation of the present one goes back to the XVI and XVII century.
We continue through the city and at the marked turn we go leftwards towards Poljcane. We drive through the hilly landscape of Dravinjske gorice and Boc (978 m) - a popular mountaineers point - confronts us. At the peak, there is a watch-tower and there is splendid view of the Alps, of the Sava hills and of the Celje basin from it. In Poljcane, which was formed at the crossing of the Roman routes Ptuj - Celje and Slovenska Bistrica - Posotelje, we turn leftwards to Majsperk. Just a few kilometres after Poljcane, under the steep Boc slopes, in the settlement of Studenice, there is a hospital with a church dating from the early XIII century. Because of the monastery, the community expanded quickly and in the XV century it became a settlement entitled to hold markets weekly and fairs thrice yearly. Across the left bank of Dravinja, there is St. Lucy's Church dating from the XVII century. We continue along the Dravinja valley to the community of Makole and to the left we view one of the most beautiful castles in Styria - [tatenberg. The original castle lay a few kilometres to the south. Its owner was, among others, the infamous Franc Tachy. The last owners, the Attems family, constructed a new castle close to Makole, in the first half of the XVIII century, while the old castle has fallen into disrepair since. The new castle was built by the well known Italian architect, Camesini. It was designed as a rectangular building,with two main and two minor, connecting tracts. There were plants and a fountain in the rectangular courtyard. After a few miles ride towards the east, we arrive at Majsperk, where we turn to the left and go uphill to the ridge of Savinsko, where a splendid view appears. At the peak, there lies the settlement of Ptujska Gora, which is known as the most beautiful Gothic Church in Slovenia. The pilgrimage Church of Our Lady was constructed in the XIV century by the Ptuj lords and the Celje counts. The altar from 1764 with a relief of Our Lady the Protectoress with a coat, originating in the XV century, is the most famous part of the Church. On the relief, portraits of important personalities of the time are to be found: the Celje counts, Bosnian King Tvrtko, Hungarian King Sigismund. Beside Gothic pieces of art, there are Baroque ones as well. The Church is surrounded by walls with a tower, a parish and a pilgrims' house. The monumental staircase is decorated by plastic art by the sculptur Jozef Straub. From the Church yard, there is a unique view towards Dravsko polje and Ptujsko polje, Pohorje, slovenske gorice and Haloze