Photo credit: Maribor-Pohorje Tourist Board / Jaka Kos

The city of Maribor is home to a special and hidden gem: a guardroom on the top of its Cathedral. Indeed, on the top of the Cathedral’s belfry, one can visit an apartment of fire-watchers.

Its 57-metre high classicist designed bell tower dates back to the end of the 18th century as the primarily 76-metre high bell tower built in the yar 1623 was struck by lightening and damaged by fire; thus, the city of the 18th century shortened its bell tower down for impressive 19 metres.

The bell tower used to serve as a fire lookout tower. The organised fire watch together with the organised firefighting unit acted as a protection of the city from devastating fires that devastated the city of Maribor many times in the past.

At the top of the bell tower, a small apartment where a fire watcher lived was set. The fire watcher was the person who warned the city about the dangers of the fire with the bell ringing. In 1933, the city authorities closed the fire watch, and the last fire watcher Antonia Wiess was, hmmm, not a play on words, but truly, she was … fired.

The bell tower remained closed and inaccessible to the general public until 2012, when the Pokrajinski muzej Maribor (Regional Museum Maribor) under the auspices of the European Capital of Culture, set up a museum collection ‘The Guardroom on the Tower’, showing a day in the life of a fire watcher.

To get on the top of the tower and to see the museum collection, one needs to climb 162 easy stairs that are well secured, then pass the huge church’s bells, and walk all the way to the museum exhibition.  The inspiring and breathtaking path leads also to the outdoor viewing platform with gorgeous views of the old town and its surroundings. And to wrap it all up, one can also ring the bell to make a wish come true. Does it ring the bell now? Indeed. It is the bell tower in Maribor!