Surprising as it may seem to you and I (mainly, I’ll concede, to me), there are people who have no particular desire to view the famous white jacket of the late Yugoslav President, Josip Broz (Tito) so it must come as welcome news for those people, to know that they can visit Maribor Castle without having to see it. On the other hand, for those people who would like nothing more to see this stylish and historic garment, the feeling of disappointment must hang as heavy as a leaden shroud. Three times have I now visited Maribor Castle and three times have my hopes been dashed. Why, then, does the promotional literature relating to the museum collection in the castle continue to boast that the jacket is on display? Is the rest of the exhibition so dull that they feel the need to lure in visitors with the promise of this memorial to the man who united the southern Slavs? Let’s find out.
“Zakon” as we say in Slovenia. It’s the law. In this case it’s the law (kind of) that a Slovenian town must have a castle or, at the very least, some castle ruins. Maribor’s Castle is in pretty fine fettle, I’m glad to say, and is located in the very heart of the city. It’s a striking white building with some castle-esque features but it’s not in a traditional fortress style. The castle dates back to the 1470s and was originally built to reinforce the defensive walls of the town. Over the centuries parts have been knocked down and new parts added, usually according to the architectural fashions of the day and the result is that it now looks slightly less castle-y and a lot more like a feudal manor house.Entrance is via the door on the right of the front façade as you look at the castle. You pay in the small bookshop/ticket office. There’s usually some member of staff available that speaks English, or if not, German. The first time we visited back in 2007 there was nobody who spoke English or German and I was forced to ask in rudimentary Russian where I might find Tito’s jacket. At that time the museum was undergoing re-organisation to coincide with some works taking place in the castle and the jacket, as well as some significant parts of the castle such as the Great Hall, was not able to be seen. If you are short on time and wish to see a particular part of the castle or exhibition, you should mention this because there is a set route and the doors of the various sections of the castle are kept locked and only opened when you are ready to move on to the next part. (This is quite common east of the old Iron Curtain; if you ever go into a museum in Russia or Ukraine it’s likely that some elderly museum attendant will deliberately not open the next door for you until you have spent as much time as she thinks appropriate being deferential before some exhibit of limited interest to most normal people, thankfully Slovenian museum attendants are generally more flexible).
There are occasional guided tours but I’ve never yet been able to coincide my visit with one, I should really as I think I’d get a lot more out of my visits.