One of Maribor's architectural gems
Maribor castle (Slovenian Mariborski grad or Mestni grad, German Stadtburg) is the only remaining castle in Maribor today, located within the boundaries of the formal medieval town, that was fortified with a wall and defense towers. However, Maribor used to have another castle, that majestically overlooked the town from atop a nearby hill and gave the town it's name: Maribor comes from German Marburg, which origins in Old German "march" (border region) and "burg" (castle). The Upper Maribor castle (Slovenian Gornji grad, German Obermarburg) sadly disappeared by the end of the 18th century. Today there's only one castle in Maribor. Let me tell you something about its history and share my photos with you.
"Die Burg in der Statt mahrburg" (translation: The castle inside the town Marburg), Georg Matthäus Vischer, 1681. You can see the 4 towers, of which only one remains today.
"Bvrg, Wie sie in der Statt zu geßicht Kombt" (translation: The castle, how it appears in town)
Georg Matthäus Vischer, 1681. You can see Obermarchburg (The Upper Castle) on a hill above town.
A painting inside Maribor castle from the 17th century, showing how huge the castle complex used to be. Today only one tower remains, as well as half of the buildings depicted here.
✰ History of Maribor castle
Maribor castle was built between 1478 and 1483 in order to fortify the northwestern corner of Maribor's defense wall. The complex was expanded through time. Additional fortifications were added on its western corner (a bastion armed with canons) due to invasions from the Turks in the early 16th century. They tried to come inside the town, but they could never go past Maribor's defense wall, which shows how well-built the whole structure used to be.
Up until the 19th century, the castle was changing many owners, who added new structures to the complex, expanded and enhanced it, so that it could be the best in the times they were living in. The whole castle complex was twice as big as it is today. There used to be a huge yard with a garden on the eastern side of today's building (as it's obvious from the painting above), which was removed in the 19th century (1871) in order to connect the area behind the castle with a small street. Together with the yard, a lot of important artworks and architectural treasures disappeared as well. It's a shame. But not only that. The castle used to have 4 towers, each at every corner. Three of them were also removed in that time. Luckily no further alterations or damage was done to the structure. In 1933 the castle was bought by the municipality of Maribor and became the home of the Regional Museum Maribor, which is still found inside today. The castle was renovated in recent years (from 2004-2009) and it caused an uproar by the architects and historians, because of many irregularities in the process. Further renovations are planned from for the eastern part of the castle 2011 until late 2012.
✰ Parts of today's Maribor castle
The most important parts of today's castle complex are: Loretanska kapela (or Loreto chapel, 1661), a small chapel built near the southern part of the castle in resemblance of the Italian Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto, the biggest hall named Viteška dvorana (or Knights' hall, 1670) embellished with frescoes and statues, a richly decorated baroque (or rococo) stairway, (Slovenian baročno stopnišče) adorned with sculptures and stucco (1747-1749).
✰ Prominent historic visitors
Over the course of history, the castle had many prominent historic visitors, the most famous among them were: Leopold I., Holy Roman Emperor (17th century), Charles VI., Holy Roman Emperor (18th century), Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria (18th century), Paul I., Emperor of Russia (18th century), Pope Pius VI. (18th century), Franz Liszt, Hungarian composer, who had a concert in the castle (19th century) and Adolf Hitler, German fuhrer (1941), (Info: Source).
Let me show you some of my photos from August and November 2010:
The only remaining tower at the southwestern corner of the castle. Near the police van is the Loretanska kapela (Loreto chapel). Photos taken in August.
The western part of the castle, today on Grajska ulica (Castle street), which was added in 1871. Before this part was inside a huge courtyard.
The Maribor castle is truly one of the biggest historic gems in the city. It's a pity, that so many parts of the original complex were destroyed, but that's something very common for Maribor, be it in the past or today. I really hope the further renovations will restore the once most beautiful castle in the region. If you happen to visit Maribor, you definitely have to visit the museum inside and take tons of photos.
If you want to get some impressions of the castle's inside, check the following articles: