Velenje - Slovena
In the Salek Valley, also known as the Valley of Castles, is the city of Velenje. The city, with a population of 43,000, stands out because of its modern, predominantly residential architecture. Free-standing buildings, a spacious road system and broad green spaces dominate the cityscape.
Velenje is the area’s administrative, political, economic and cultural center. The city only started to develop to a large extent in the 1950s. There is more to do in the city than is found within its pedestrianized zone. Each district can trace the dynamic and hospitality of its residents. Velenje is surrounded by forests and hills, and by rivers and lakes whose shores are an appealing location for either relaxing or sporting activities. Attractions include the card grottos, the thermal springs, the beach and the lake’s sporting offerings. Hiking trails criss-cross the forests, mountains and valley. The picturesque castle in Velenje is the symbol of the surrounding area.
A castle and a marketplace in Velenje are mentioned as far back as 1250. Over the course of history, the city was witness to numerous wars, revolutions and several Ottoman invasions during the 15th Century. In the 16th Century, the Salek Valley was the center of Protestant life in the Stajerska region. In 1801, a fire raged through the city, reducing the marketplace and many buildings, including the Sv. Marija Church, to ashes. Only at the end of the 19th Century did Velenje slowly begin to return to prosperity. The most significant branches of industry were trade, wood processing and agriculture. The city made a breakthrough at the start of the 20th Century with its first coal mine. In the present day, the Velenje mines are among the most modern in the world.
Education and culture
The Velenje School Center is one of the biggest educational establishments in Slovenia, which is attended by almost 4,000 pupils, students and adults. Around 2,000 future miners, mining engineers, machine engineers and computer experts study at the Middle School Center each year.
Cultural events take place in the city all year round. The Ivan Japotnik Culture Center hosts music events, films, theatre productions, musicals, folk festivals and dance performances. The Fran Korun Kozeljski Music School organises international summer schools called ”Velenjes Summer of Music”. The Youth Culture Days are celebrated in May each year in the castle. In July, mine workers hold a parade to celebrate the Mining Festival. ”Augustus Night on the Lake” is a huge music event featuring fireworks and laser shows. The Pippi Longstocking Festival in September has become one of the largest children’s festivals anywhere in the world.
Economy and tourism
Industry and mining are the city’s most important economic forces today. Other contributors include trade, handicraft, services, civil engineering, agriculture and forestry. A large number of businesses are active in the city, which process plastic and metal. The Gorenje Group is one of the largest production companies and exporters in Slovenia and one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of household appliances. The high-quality products are transported to every continent on the planet. Gorenje is the largest employer in the region.
The tourism sector in Velenje is still developing. The opportunities for hiking and mountain tours, as well as mountain biking, attract more and more tourists to the city each year.