Situated in between Maribor in the east and Ljubljana in the west, Celje is famous for its castle, regional museum and a special lady, an interbellum world traveler. That summer we came from the north, from Muta ob Dravi to be more specific, where I rephotographed Kurt Hielscher's photo from an old wooden church. We stayed for the night in our van at the nearby Waterpark Radlje ob Dravi where we could cool down from our journey through the south of Germany and Austria. 

The Old Castle of Celje, 29th of July 2018, photo: Casper Molenaar

With the upcoming heat of the next summer day, we decided after a one and a half hour drive to first start with a visit to the castle, which foundations date back to the 2nd half of the 12th Century. The old castle provides stunning views on the city center of Celje and its surroundings, since it is situated on a hill at the edge of the town. It is the country's largest medieval castle and we gained a lot of inspiration thanks to the enormous amount of torture equipment and lost a lot of moist climbing the tower and finished our visit with some cool drinks in the shadow and the kids playing chess full in the sun. For the rest of the day there was only one option: an open air swimming pool and it turned out that the Celje had a fine and popular letno kopališče: we we're not alone here! Check the panorama photo all the way below.

Refreshed by the pool, now it was time to settle the van for the night at the parking for campervans in the city park at the southside of the Savinja river. From there it was an easy stroll via the Splavarski Most to the city center where we went for diner and me myself ofcourse to rephotograph Kurt Hielscher's photo from the Stara Grofija, the Old Count's Mansion which houses the Pokrajinski Muzej, the regional museum, for almost 140 years.

Stara Grofija, Celje, Slovenia, 1926 

Photo: Kurt Hielscher (1881-1948)

Stara Grofija, Celje, Slovenia, 29th of July 2018 

Photo: Casper Molenaar

Unfortunately, there were reconstruction works going on. Of course I did not know that in advance but made the best of it.  I had to remove a fence to get on the site and climbed an obstacle to find the right height. Luckily it had the same angle as well. Check "the making of" pic. Now I am wondering how it looks like today. Would the works have been finished? I should go back and find out.

Celje, 29th of July 2018, photo: Kim van Ierssel

The famous ceiling in the Stara Grofija was accidently discovered just after the publication of Kurt Hielscher's Yugoslavia photobook with this photo of the current Pokrajinski muzej in 1926. Coincidence? Maybe that the local government got reinterested in the building because of the photo? Anyway, the recunstruction works started just after. Because of the heath that day, we entered the city center rather late, too late to visit the museum. So I made the photo keeping in mind to plan a visit a next time. 

View on Celje and surroundings from the castle facing north. We stayed for the night with the campervan on a parking for campers in the woods in between the bridges on the left banks of the Savinja river. You can see how compact Celje is and that it is quite a walk to the castle, and uphill. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 29th of July 2018

Wife and kids strolling around Celje center to find a nice restaurant. We did. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 29th of July 2018

My oldest son with the statue of globetrotter and writer Alma Maksimilijana Karlin in front of the impressive Celjski Dom and a fountain on Krekov trg. Karlin, born in Celje in 1889, just eight years younger than Kurt Hielscher, studied languages in Graz, London and Paris, and became familiar with 11 languages next to her mother tongue: German. She traveled the Middle-East, South-America and mainly Asia in between 1919 and 1928. Karlin became one of the most famous and most admired European travel writers. In "Einsame Weltreise" Karlin describes the first four years of her travels. She travels with her Erika typewriter in her luggage to South America, from there via California and Hawaii to Japan, the declared destination of her trip, and to China.

Karlin was nominated by Selma Lagerlöf for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Karlin was a theosophist for a long time and spoke out early against National Socialism. In 1941 her books were banned by the Nazis. With her book "Windlichter des Todes", Karlin attracted the attention of the Swedish writer and Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf so much that the latter nominated Karlin for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Selma Lagerlöf also wrote the preface of Kurt Hielscher's photoalbum "Sweden" from 1931. Now I am wondering if Kurt Hielscher and Alma M. Karlin ever met? Would they have shared their travelling experiences or were they merely interested in their own profession?

Characeristic facade at Glavni Trg br.2 in Celje. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 29th of July 2018

Playing chess is serious business at Celje Castle.

Below: finding some shades and cool water at the crowded letno kopališče in Celje on a hot summer day. Kim and the boys on the left in the front. Photo: Casper Molenaar, 29th of July 2018.

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher