Celje, Slovenia’s third largest city, is situated roughly halfway between the capital, Ljubljana, and the second city, Maribor. Historically, it has had a turbulent past, but these days it’s a handsome and welcoming town with a lively cultural scene and its situation makes it a good base for exploring central Slovenia. In 2013 Celje will be one of four Slovenian cities hosting the European Basketball Championships, an event which is sure to bring the city greater international attention.
The three stars on the Slovenian flag represent the Counts of Celje; during the fifteenth century, the Counts were elevated to the status of Princes and they are known for their battles for supremacy over the region with the Hapsburgs, a struggle that eventually ended with Hapsburg victory in 1456. The partially restored remains of the Stari Grad (the old castle), the first castle of the Counts of Celje and built in the thirteenth century, is perched high up overlooking the city and the River Sava.
In the 1860s, Celje found itself part of the Austro Hungarian Empire and by 1910, nearly 70 per cent of the local population was German. Many of the civic buildings remaining from this period have a distinctly Germanic style. When German forces occupied this part of central Europe during World War II, many Slovenians were killed, imprisoned, or deported. In 1945, the German citizens of Celje were expelled when the Yugoslav troops liberated the city; it is estimated that as many as a hundred thousand Slovenes who collaborated with the occupiers were also killed or expelled and still today this is a controversial subject in Celje and the larger region. The Museum of Recent History is a good place to get an overview of those events. For history from prehistoric times to World War I, the Regional Museum of Celje has comprehensive and varied exhibitions.
Celje is just a short drive from the ski grounds at Zrece and Rogla to the north and well located for taking advantage of the beautiful countryside of this part of Lower Styria. Hops are grown in the fields round Celje with the city’s old Roman name, Celeia), given to one of the most popular varieties (also known as Styrian Goldings).
Options for Celje hostels are extremely limited, but you will be centrally located and enjoy leisure spaces; wi-fi, bike rental, and a welcome drink are generally included in the price of the accommodation.
Hi, I'm Fiona Thompson,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Celje hostels. Welcome.