Located at the eastern edge of the Central Slovene Hills (Slovenske gorice) and one of Slovenia’s youngest municipalities, the tiny community of Sveti Jurij v Slovenskih goricah claims a population of approximately 2,100 souls and yet is currently making huge waves towards becoming a serious tourist destination of the future.
Separated from the Municipality of Lenart just over a decade ago and barely 5km across at its widest, Sveti Jurij v Slovenskih goricah is a beguiling little patchwork of open fields, lush meadows, vineyards, traditional farmsteads and the occasional cultural distraction for the benefit of curious visitors looking for something unique in an increasingly homogeneous world. At its political if not geographic center lies the small village of Jurovski Dol, a sleepy backwater that until recently had little to worry about and that now finds itself the ‘capital’ of the community, a fact that’s seen much recent development and modernization build up around its main tourist draw, the lovely Church of St. George (see below). As diminutive political and cultural centers go, Jurovski Dol does perhaps surprisingly contain more than its fair share of attractions, including not one but two walking trails to explore, namely the Jurovska educational route and the equally unusual Hajnč’s Path, and the annual spring festival known as St. George’s Days when a large part of April is dedicated to celebrating life and culture with a cavalcade of activities including everything from folklore concerts to football matches to fun outdoor games. St. George’s Days ends with a special Mass, performances from brass bands, street processions and a special blessing of the local horses. Further afield, the Sveti Jurij v Slovenskih goricah community in general is also taking its new role as a center for tourism seriously, with a strong campaign to highlight and promote its various sights and places to visit. The history of the community is the focus for new explorations of previously unexplored archaeological curiosities dating back millennia, small local wine producers are opening their doors for tours, tasting and sales, a fact helped by a decision in 2016 to name a local grape variety the Roškar’s Vine, named in honour of a former Minister of Agriculture in the short-lived State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and a descendent of the oldest vine in the world. Other curiosities include a monument to the Black Death that killed many locals during the 17th century and the gradual opening up of specialist restaurants and small local industries to help attract even more visitors. Close to Maribor and a relatively short drive from the capital, Sveti Jurij v Slovenskih goricah provides both a fascinating day trip for the curious and part of a bigger adventure around north-eastern Slovenia in general. Info: www.obcinajurij.si.
CHURCH OF ST. GEORGE: The building from which the community gets its name, this fine church featuring more than a passing nod to the Gothic and Baroque ecclesiastical styles sits on a slope close to the center of Jurovski Dol and is almost without question Sveti Jurij v Slovenskih goricah’s crowning cultural achievement. Featuring a bell tower reminiscent of many in the community and a small graveyard to the east, the Catholic Church of St. George began life in the early 16th century and has seen several changes through the centuries including major changes during the 17th century and again in 1932. The rich interior features several interesting details, many of them recent additions including a gold-plated altar from 2004 and a new organ installed in August 1993.
FOOD & DRINK: There are several good restaurants in the vicinity, all serving an excellent choice of local food of the variety usually found only at home and therefore tasting just that little bit more special. As well as a number of traditional restaurants where you can sample delicious dishes with unpronounceable names and wash it all down with lots of cold beer, there are also a number of other options that we highly recommend including tourist farms where you can sample delicious homemade bread and fresh produce and a couple of vineyards for the perfect mix of education and socializing. The regional wines are not only very good, they also serve as excellent gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.