Ptuj (pronounced [ˈptuːi̯] (listen); German: Pettau, pronounced [ˈpɛtaʊ̯] (listen); Latin: Poetovium/Poetovio) is a town in northeastern Slovenia that is the seat of the Municipality of Ptuj. Ptuj, the oldest recorded city in Slovenia, has been inhabited since the late Stone Age and developed from a Roman military fort. Ptuj was located at a strategically important crossing of the Drava River, along a prehistoric trade route between the Baltic Sea and the Adriatic.[1] The area is part of the traditional region of Styria and it was part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. In the early 20th century the majority of the residents spoke German,[2] but today the population is largely Slovene. Residents of Ptuj are known as Ptujčani in Slovene.

Ptuj Town Hall.jpg
Ptuj (20) (5339306384).jpg
Aleš Kravos Kurentovanje Ptuj 2019.jpg
View on City Ptuj from Ptuj Castle.jpg
Top: Panoramic view of Ptuj heritage area and Drava River, Middle: Ptuj Town Hall, St. George's Church and Slomšek Street, Bottom: Korantavanje carnival in late February, Southern suburbs of Ptuj from Ptuj Castle (left to right)
Flag of Ptuj
Coat of arms of Ptuj
Ptuj is located in Slovenia
Location of the city of Ptuj in Slovenia
Coordinates: 46°25′10″N 15°52′10″E / 46.41944°N 15.86944°E / 46.41944; 15.86944Coordinates: 46°25′10″N 15°52′10″E / 46.41944°N 15.86944°E / 46.41944; 15.86944
Country Slovenia
Traditional regionStyria
Statistical regionDrava
First mentionAD 69
Town privileges1376
Founded byVespasian
 • MayorNuška Gajšek (SD)
 • Total25.6 km2 (9.9 sq mi)
232 m (761 ft)
 • Total17,972
 • Density701/km2 (1,820/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02 (CEST)
Vehicle registrationMB


Historical affiliations

  Roman Empire (69–476AD)
  Ostrogothic Kingdom (476–552)
Lombards (552–568)
Pannonian Avars (568–623, 658–700)
Samo's Empire (623–658)
Early Slavs (700–795)
Francia (795–840)
Balaton Principality (840–874)
  Archbishop of Salzburg (977–1555)
  Habsburg Monarchy (1555–1804)
  Austrian Empire (1804–1867)
  Austria-Hungary (1867–1918)
  State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (1918)
  Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1941)
  Nazi Germany (1941–1944)
  SFR Yugoslavia[3] (1944–1991)
  Slovenia 1991–Present

Earliest historyEdit

Ptuj is the oldest recorded town in Slovenia. There is evidence that the area was settled in the Stone Age. In the Late Iron Age it was settled by Celts.[4]

AD 69: Ptuj is mentioned for the first timeEdit

By the 1st century BC, the settlement was controlled by Ancient Rome as part of the Pannonian province. In 69 AD, Vespasian was elected Roman Emperor by the Danubian legions in Ptuj, and the first written mention of the city of Ptuj is from the same year. Poetovium was the base-camp of Legio XIII Gemina where it had its legionary fortress or castrum. The name originated in the times of Emperor Trajan, who granted the settlement city status and named it Colonia Ulpia Traiana Poetovio in 103. The patristic writer Victorinus was Bishop of Poetovio before his martyrdom in 303 or 304. The Caesar Constantius Gallus was divested of his imperial robe and arrested in Poetovio before his subsequent execution in Pola (354) (Amm.Marc. Hist. XIV) The battle of Poetovio in 388 saw Theodosius I's victory over the usurper, Maximus.

The city had 40,000 inhabitants until it was plundered by the Huns in 450.[4]

Middle AgesEdit

In 570 the city was occupied by Eurasian Avars and Slavic tribes.[4] Ptuj became part of the Frankish Empire[4] after the fall of Avar state at the end of 8th century. Between 840 and 874 it belonged to the Slavic Balaton Principality of Pribina and Kocelj. Between 874 and 890 Ptuj gradually came under the influence of the Archbishopric of Salzburg which had both spiritual and temporal rule over the town;[4] city rights passed in 1376 began an economic upswing for the settlement.

Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-HungaryEdit

After the re-establishment of the Habsburg rule in 1490, following Matthias Corvinus's conquests, the Archbishop of Salzburg was stripped of the remaining temporal authority over the town and the surrounding areas; Ptuj (known in German as Pettau) was officially incorporated into the Duchy of Styria in 1555.[4]

Pettau was a battleground during the Ottoman wars in Europe and suffered from fires in 1684, 1705, 1710, and 1744.[4] Its population and importance began to decline in the 19th century, however, after the completion of the Vienna-Trieste route of the Austrian Southern Railway, as the line went through Marburg (Maribor) instead.

According to the 1910 Austro-Hungarian census, 86% of the population of Pettau's Old Town was German-speaking, while the population of the surrounding villages predominantly spoke Slovenian. After the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I, Pettau was included in the short-lived Republic of German Austria.

Establishment of YugoslaviaEdit

After the military intervention of the Slovenian general Rudolf Maister, the entire territory of Lower Styria was included into the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (Yugoslavia). During the interwar period, the number and the percentage of those identifying as Germans in the city, which was renamed Ptuj, decreased rapidly, although a relatively strong ethnic German minority remained.

World War IIEdit

After the invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Ptuj was occupied by Nazi Germany. From 1941 to 1944 the town's Slovenian population was dispossessed and deported. Their homes were taken over by German speakers from South Tyrol and Gottschee County, who had themselves been evicted according to an agreement between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. These German immigrants, along with the native German Pettauer, were expelled to Austria in 1945; many later settled in North America.

Since 1945, Ptuj has been populated almost completely by Slovenes.


Kurenti in Ptuj

The Kurent or Korant CarnivalEdit

Ptuj is the center place of a ten-day-long carnival in the spring, an ancient Slavic pagan rite of spring and fertility, called Kurentovanje or Korantovanje. Kurent is believed to be the name of an ancient god of hedonism - the Slavic counterpart of the Greek god Priapos, although there are no written records.

Kurent or Korant is a figure dressed in sheep skin who go about the town wearing masks, a long red tongue, cow bells, and multi-colored ribbons on the head. The Kurent(s) from Ptuj and the adjoining villages also wear feathers, while those from the Haloze and Lancova Vas wear horns. Organized in groups, Kurents go through town, from house to house, making noise with their bells and wooden sticks, to symbolically scare off evil spirits and the winter.


Ptuj Town Hall
Town Tower and Theatre

The parish church in the settlement is dedicated to Saint George and belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Maribor. It is a three-naved Gothic building from the 13th and early 14th century, but the structure incorporates parts of a much earlier structure, dating to the mid-9th century.[5]

Town quartersEdit

Ouroboros in Ptuj castle
  • Center
  • Breg–Turnišče
  • Ljudski Vrt
  • Jezero
  • Panorama
  • Rogoznica
  • Grajena
  • Spuhlja


Seen from the castle

Sister citiesEdit

Ptuj is twinned with:



  1. ^ Sasel, J. "The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites,POETOVIO(Ptuj) Yugoslavia". The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  2. ^ Leksikon občin kraljestev in dežel zastopanih v državnem zboru, vol. 4: Štajersko. Vienna: C. Kr. Dvorna in Državna Tiskarna. 1904. p. 4.
  3. ^ Known as: Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (1944–1945); Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (1945–1963); Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1963–1992)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "The History of Ptuj". Accessed November 8, 2006.
  5. ^ Slovenian Ministry of Culture register of national heritage reference number ešd 582

External linksEdit