A few kilometres from the Croatian border, Rogaška Slatina nestles in a valley at the confluence of two small rivers, sources of water that along with many others in the immediate area literally spring up everywhere and have together contributed towards making the fabulous little spa town of just 5,500 or so permanent residents one of the most popular destinations in the Balkans for visitors seeking restive cures of every conceivable kind.
Known to the Celts and the Romans, Rogaška Slatina’s shot to fame rather late in life in 1803 when the illustrious Count Ferdinand Attems bought up all the neighboring land and declared it an official health resort. Famously founded in legend by the mighty hoof of Pegasus and first mentioned in written texts in 1141, Rogaška Slatina has grown off the back of its mineral-rich water into a bustling town brimming with grand buildings in every conceivable architectural style from Secessionist to Art Deco. World renowned for the extraordinary range of glassware made using centuries-old techniques in the town’s Rogaška Crystal factory and perched on the edge of the invigorating Boč Landscape Park, Rogaška Slatina is considerably more than simply a place to visit for its spas and medical centres. Within easy reach of the town are a magnificent collection of churches, traditional farmsteads offering everything from wine-tasting tours to sumptuous feasts in traditional wooden barns, countless opportunities to hike in the local forests and mountains and the 326-metre Janina Hill, home to a small ski resort for the perfect winter break. Friendly and affordable, Rogaška Slatina has something to offer everyone.
CRYSTAL HALL: The literal jewel in the crown of Rogaška Slatina is its famous and exceedingly opulent Crystal Hall. Located inside the Grand Hotel Rogaška, the town’s most important cultural monument was originally designed and built in the first half of the 19th century during the renovation of what was then the Hotel Zdraviliški Dom, which was subsequently destroyed in a fire in 1910. Its replacement dates from soon after and is decorated with extraordinary Venetian chandeliers of the most exquisite cut crystal alongside five hand-made examples from the local Rogaška Crystal factory, several large paintings depicting key moments in the development of the town and impressive marble pillars. Attracting the likes of such historical figures as Franz Liszt, today’s Crystal Hall continues to be used for large and exclusive events, business conferences, glamorous weddings, concerts and other high profile celebrations. Info: Zdraviliški trg 12, tel. +386 (0)3 811 20 00, email@example.com, www.grandhotel-rogaska.si.
BOČ LANDSCAPE PARK: Located at the far eastern edge of the Pannonian Hills and starting immediately to the north of Rogaška Slatina, the Boč Landscape Park covers a little over 20 square kilometres of terrain and consists of a beguiling mix of rolling hills, mountains, streams, rivers and dense forests of predominantly beech but also maple, ash, wild cherry, lime and elm, five of which are designated forest reserves. A protected area since 1992, the park is populated with a wide range of species including wild boar, deer, 65 different species of beetle, alpine goats, butterflies and a wealth of flora including the rare pasque flower (pulsatilla grandis). At 979 metres above sea level, the mighty Boč Hill or Boč Mountain, from which the park gets its name, is visible from the town and features a path to the top for anyone brave enough to take it on. Peppered with a few human artifacts including two small churches, the park offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor types including forest trails, specialist bicycle routes, hill walking and a touch of skiing during the winter. As with all wild places familiar or otherwise, people setting off to explore should tell somebody in case something happens.