The Renaissance-cum-Baroque castle in Ptuj stands over Slovenia’s oldest town on a bend in the Drava River and its site has been occupied since pre-Roman times. In the 16th century the castle began to take on its present shape, replacing the medieval fortress commissioned by an archbishop of Salzburg, of which only the Western Tower now remains. It has been extended piecemeal since then and was transformed into the Ptuj Regional Museum in 1945, showcasing a host of treasures from Slovenia’s cultured, aristocratic past.
The six permanent exhibitions are woven into a tour of the castle apartments and include Slovenia’s biggest collections of ancient armor and handmade musical instruments on the ground floor plus a series of fine paintings of the Habsburg Imperial Family in the Castle Gallery. The most sumptuous chambers are found on the first floor, where period furniture, Chinoiserie, tapestries and paintings are laid out in reconstructed rooms dating from the late 16th to the 19th centuries.
The Festival Hall houses a rare collection of Turqueries, which are 17th-century Turkish portraits of military commanders, dignitaries and fine Ottoman ladies. However, the real stars among the museum’s collections are the traditional shaggy costumes and animal masks worn during Ptuj’s Kurent (Shrove Tuesday) carnival to stave off winter spirits; they are displayed in castle’s former stable block.
Na Gradu 1, Ptuj. Open May–Oct 14 Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat–Sun 9am–8pm; Oct 15–Apr 30 daily 9am–5pm. Admission adults €5; seniors €4; children younger than 16 €3. Ptuj is 81 miles (130 km) east of Ljubljana and the castle is best accessed on foot via Grajska ulica and a covered wooden walkway that leads to the Peruzzi Gate entrance.