Slovenia City of
Splendid monuments from that era appear in many downtown areas, some incorporated into more modern buildings. Every view of the town shows a different face. One can stroll from the fine old railway station to the National Hall, or along the river promenade past the Regional Museum and across to the old bustling marketplace which reflects the energy and vitality of Celje’s citizens. One is impressed by the splendid 18th- and 19th-century facades with their wealth of detail and ornament, where time has left its legacy for future generations. Celje is indeed a real treasure for history-loving tourists!
Looking farther back in the history of Celje, we find the area was inhabited from the Neolithic period on and later became the second most important commercial and administrative center of the Noricum Kingdom. The name Celje is the final derivation of the original name Kelleia, a major Celtic settlement in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. The name changed to Celeia (Latin) in Roman times when the town flourished as a Roman administrative center. The rule of Rome lasted for a period of four centuries, during which time four future emperors were governors of Celje. Numerous Roman artifacts have been found in Celje and its surroundings.
The name Celeia was changed to Cilli when it gained importance under the Counts and Princes of Celje in the Middle Ages. Their power reached its peak in the 14th and 15th centuries when with their political might they represented the only authority to counter Hapsburg ambitions in this area. On April 11, 1451, Friderik II, Prince of Celje, granted the title Town of Celje, and this day continues to be observed as a municipal holiday. Magnificent cultural monuments such as the Old Castle above the town, the splendid County House, and the City Castle testify to this great chapter in the history of Celje.
Despite Turkish raids, fires, and the plague, the town quickly developed into a successful trade and commercial center. After the construction of the Southern Railway from Vienna to Trieste, which reached Celje in 1846, the town became an important industrial, commercial, cultural, and educational center. In the period between the World Wars, Celje was the third most important town of the Drava Province.
After World War II, Celje expanded its industry, mainly chemicals and metalworking but also the timber, printing, and textile industries, and banking. Commercial and marketing activities increased as well. A thriving food-processing industry developed, especially milling, baking, and meat-processing with their centuries-old tradition.
The proclamation of the independent Republic of Slovenia in 1991 represented yet another turning-point for the town and Municipality of Celje.
In recent years, new forms of trade and business have flourished and are now replacing the more traditional heavy industry. Within the business structure the latter have been replaced by numerous smaller companies that are engaged in promotion of economic progress and growth. Among the more than fifteen fairs organized annually, the International Trade Fairis the second largest of its kind in Europe. This has made Celje into an important international commercial center.
As a regional center, Celje is the seat of many regional and intermunicipal institutions including several secondary schools, an art academy, and a university department, while in the field of culture, the Celje Theatre and numerous music groups, choirs, and ensembles are active year round. The impressive historical finds and numerous temporary exhibitions in the Regional Museum are well worth a visit, as are those in the Museum of Modern History, the Children’s Museum, and the Gallery of Modern Art.
This ancient yet modern city with its many historical and modern attractions and abundant green surroundings draws many visitors all year around. In its immediate vicinity there are numerous possibilities for recreation such as hiking, skiing, skating, golfing, kayaking, tennis, paragliding, and swimming. Several health spas and resorts with natural thermal springs are located only a stone’s throw from Celje, offering a quiet retreat, healing therapies, and unspoiled nature.
Due to its attractive natural setting, mild climate, and rich cultural and historical heritage, Celje has always been and remains an attractive tourist destination. It looks forward to presenting itself to Europe and to the world as a sophisticated, creative, and friendly city.
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