The Ormož natural terrace extending along the Drava River was already inhabited around 2100 BC. Here, under the hills of Slovenske gorice, at the crossroads of major traffic routes, the rich history of Ormož was weaved. During the Bronze Age it surpassed all of the surrounding localities in importance, size and the originality of urban design. Archeological remains testify to the existence of rich building technology and a vibrant residential, culinary and drinking culture. At the time Ormož was the largest settlement of the Eastern Alps. To this day we are not certain as to the reasons for its later decline. It experienced a recovery only during the Middle Ages.
The town was first mentioned with the name of Holermus in a document dating back to the year 1273. Due to its strategic importance it attained municipal rights in 1293 and city rights in 1331. At the time battles for the eastern border between the Hungarian kings and the Salzburg archdiocese were taking place. It is for this reason, a fortified castle was erected by the Ptuj nobility to defend the border from the Hungarians.
The town, separated from the castle with walls, continued to develop independently. To honour the Ptuj Lord Friderik, who imparted city rights to the town, it was renamed Friedau. However, the previous name Holermus was not completely forgotten. Through centuries of phonetic changes the name of the town developed into the current name of Ormož.
Often the town was devastated by fires and was ravaged by the Hungarians (1487), Turks (1532), rebel Hungarian farmers (1605) and the Kruci (1704). A more peaceful era for its development began only in the second half of the 18th century.
In addition to general town privileges the townsfolk were also allowed to organise annual fairs. This tradition has been preserved to the present day; the St. Jakob Fair continues to take place on the first Monday after St. Jakob’s Sunday, the Flower Fair on the Flower Friday and the St. Martin Fair on 11 November which is St. Martin’s Day.
In 1927, Dr. Majerič founded a clinic for the treatment of rheumatic patients in Ormož. The increasing international prominence of the institution also aided the development of tourism.
Ormož, situated at the intersection of important traffic routes, is valued mainly because of its natural beauty and cultural heritage. The renovation of the town was carried out by honouring the old town’s appearance making Ormož today amongst the most beautiful towns in Slovenia.
The Ormož Castle
The construction of the castle dates back to 1278 when Rudolph of Habsburg granted the right to build a castle in Ormož to Friderik of Ptuj. The southern tract was first constructed as a three-story fortified house which was later amplified with a large walled court yard. The northeast corner of the building was protected with a defense tower which housed a castle church on the second floor. The latter has been preserved to this day. After the decline of the Ptuj Lords in the 15th century, various noble families owned the property. Currently the castle serves as a venue for representation purposes of the Ormož municipality and it houses the Franc Ksaver Meško library, the Ptuj – Ormož Regional Museum, Radio Prlek and the Tourist-Information Centre (TIC).
Next to select classicist works of art, which rank among the best in Slovenia, the castle houses an archeological exhibition. It includes ‘Between the Rivers Drava and Mura – the presentation of the archeological heritage of the communities within the Prlekija and Međzimurje regions’, a historic exhibition ‘Ormož in Yugoslavia of Karađordevic and Tito’, an exhibition depicting ‘the history of the Ormož rheumatic clinic inherited from Dr. Otmar Majerič’, a private collection fromMarko Sluga and a few modern works of art.
The Ormož Castle’s Outhouse
The Ormož Castle’s Outhouse includes of a number of barns, which were built throughout different time periods starting in the 18th century. The complex currently houses the Medieval Statutes from the Ormož area exhibition, the archeological exhibition From toy to urn, a thematic presentation of the Ormož late Bronze Age and Iron Age pottery (11th to 1st century BC) and the exhibition Pottery in Praise of a Potter.
The Ormož Castle Park
After the year 1910, when the castle passed into the hands of the Wurmbrand-Stuppach family, a large park was planted around it. It includes a number of exotic trees, among them the Maklura, the Tulip Tree and the Ginkgo. Due to its design and variety it is considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in Slovenia and one of the most exceptionally well preserved Slovene castle parks. At the eastern end of the park a chapel was constructed in the beginning of the 20th century. It contains a tomb in which the last castle owners are buried. In front of the castle there is a memorial walkway devoted to the major figures of Ormož and the surrounding area.
Church of St. Jakob
At the eastern edge of the Town Square of Ormož stands the parish church of St. Jakob. The oldest part of the building is the rectangular nave, the construction of which dates back to the first half or middle of the 14th century.
The choir was built as an extension to the nave around the year 1400 or in the first half of the 15th century. The vestry with its renowned decoration in the lunette of the portal was constructed on the northern side of the church. The north chapel was most likely built as an extension to the church during the latter part of the 14th century. Before the end of the century it was barrel-vaulted and connected with the church by a polygonal joint.
The nave, initially with a straight ceiling, was also barrel-vaulted in a baroque style after a city fire in 1647. Later remodeling in the 19th century did not substantially alter the church.
The oldest frescos originate from the middle of the 14th century, while the expressive composition of the Last Judgment was created on the wall of the triumphal arch in 1630. There is a significant painting on the north side of the nave, where 48 scenes from the Old and New Testament are depicted in four rows. Another interesting part of the Ormož Franciscan monastery interior is the baptismal font from the 16th century. The monastery was founded by Jakob Szekely at the end of the 15th century. Opposite the entrance of the church is the Late Baroque Mary’s Pillar.