Rogaška Slatina is a hidden gem in eastern Slovenia, it’s about thirty minutes southwest of Maribor and worth the trip. It’s a gorgeous town with stunning Secession style architecture and offers a lot. Its rich history is almost tangible at every corner of the town. Even the air you breathe is full of serenity and the legendary healing energy is world-famous! The best part is the healing springs. It’s also known for its world-renowned hand-made glass and crystal, and the glassmaking process can be observed in Crystal Rogaška glassblowing and a crystal factory.
A popular health resort was built around Rogaška Slatina healing spring, and it’s been a haven for aristocrats since the 17th Century. Rogaška Slatina’s attractions include many natural and cultural attractions, the main one being the spa center with its gorgeous promenade park. Rogaška Slatina is surrounded by unspoiled nature, which offers visitors a wide range of opportunities for active leisure and recharging their batteries in a peaceful, natural, and healing-rich environment.
Rogaška Slatina, through time
The archaeological remains that were found in the area and the Roman road that led past Lemberg and Rogatec from Celeia (today’s Celje) to Poetovium (today’s Ptuj), two important Roman towns in today’s Slovenia, indicate that the area of Rogaška Slatina was already known to the Celts and Romans. A Roman bronze needle with six heads was found near the Temple spring, and Celtic coins were found in a spring in nearby Kostrivnica.
The first written mention of the healing spring dates to 1141 in the Charter of Conrad, the Salzburg Archbishop, so the healing effects of the water were already known to many locals and pilgrims before written references in 1572 spread the word about the miraculous healing power of the water throughout Styria and further. Today, it is widely believed that the Croatian Ban Peter Zrinjski discovered the springs, one of the most powerful feudal lords in Europe at the time, who was hunting in the Rogaška area in 1665 and, because he had liver problems, was recommended by his peasants to drink the water from the spring in the middle of the woods near the parish church of St. Križ (Holy Cross), after which Zrinjski was miraculously cured. In 1687, Doctor J.B. Gruendel from Maribor wrote a monograph titled Roitschocrene (Rogaška Spring), where he extensively described Rogaška water’s chemical properties and healing effects.
In 1803, the Styrian Land Estates, represented by the Land Governor Count Attems, bought the land around the springs from the private owners of the time. This is the year the health resort was officially founded and given its first estate manager and permanent doctor. Slowly, the sale of mineral water grew, and it could be bought in all the Austrian states, Hungary, Croatia, Italy, Greece, and even Egypt. In the golden age that followed, the spa was visited by members of many royal families, including the Habsburg, Bonaparte, Bourbon, Obrenović, and Karađorđević families, members of the high nobility such as the Windischgraetz and the Liechtensteins, and many other important guests, including Bishop Strossmayer and the great English traveler Richard Burton.
The select spa crowd, which enjoyed a rich social life, was entertained by top artists, including the Hungarian composer and pianist Franz Liszt.
In the early 20th century, under the guidance of Dr J. Knett, a geologist and spring inspector from Karlovy Vary, the most mineralized water at that time was found, which was named Donat. Its high magnesium content makes it unique because it helps curatively and preventively with metabolic diseases and diabetes.
The mythological origins
The legend of the origin of the Rogaška Spring is recorded and depicted in a baroque engraving in the German edition of the Roitschocrene from 1687. The image in the book shows the god Apollo instructing Pegasus, the winged horse, to strike a hoof at a spot near Rogatec and the Church of the Holy Cross, thus opening the Roitschocrene, the Rogatec Spring. In the legend of the Horn, Apollo says: “Hereby lies the source of health and the true power of the gods. Instead of Hippocrene, drink Roitschocrene from the spring before you.” Pegasus has thus become the symbolic creator of Rogaška Slatina’s mineral water and the symbol of the municipality, as it is depicted on the municipality’s coat of arms, and a Pegasus platform was erected in 2008 near the spa center.
The Spa Complex today
The exceptional urban design of the spa complex in Rogaška Slatina, which dates to the first half of the 19th century, is a broad classicist park axis surrounded by palaces and a Temple. In 1952, the first deep borehole in Slovenia was drilled here, and the mineral water, now called Donat Mg, has always kept Rogaška Slatina the largest and most famous health resort in Slovenia and around the world.
The walk along the promenade with well-arranged promenades, greenery, and flower beds is a tranquil experience. The unique classicist former Health Spa Home (today Grand Hotel Rogaška), famous for its breathtaking Crystal Hall and the representative Temple Pavilion, is located in the central part of the park. Walking from the European platform, you can discover many other sights: the monument of the National Liberation Struggle (NOB), the memorial of Count Attems (the Spa founder), the Weather house, the natural rarity of the ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba), a copy of the statue of saint Janez Nepomuk, the patron of water. There are two natural springs in the vicinity: the Forest and Ivan’s. When I visit I fill my glass jugs from the fountain in the Forest spring, the water is very minerally, copper-like in taste and the color is dusty, it’s amazing. I’ve read to drink the water when first waking up so that’s what I do.
The crystal-clear tradition of glassblowing
Rogaška Slatina has been world-renowned for centuries for the Crystal Hall in the Grand Hotel Rogaška. The original hall was built in the first half of the 19th century during the renovation of the Spa Home. It was equipped with fabulous Venetian chandeliers, priceless paintings, and impressive marble pillars. Immediately after the opening, it was famous for the visit of Emperor Ferdinand and the performance of world-renowned pianist Franz Liszt in 1846. It also charmed another emperor, Franz Josef I, who celebrated his birthday in Crystal Hall in 1910. Unfortunately, during his celebration, the hall was burnt down, but it took only two years to renovate and is since then called Crystal Hall.
One of the world’s finest crystal manufacturers has a historically rich legacy in this area, with the first mention of glass-blowing dating back to 1655. The products are still manually made, while the master glassmakers use the latest technology. Wonderful designs and the quality of crystal and engraved products can be found at the Rogaška Glassworks Shop, where you can buy their exquisite products. You can take a guided tour of the factory, where you will get to know all the exciting stages of production – from glass blowing to final packaging.
Visit Rogaška Slatina and take a drop of history home with you. Subscribe for more Slovenian travels, have a lovely day.