The area of the today city was first mentioned in 1250. Its roots originate in a small mining village - after 1950 its growth was closely connected with the expansion of the coal mine and company Gorenje. Today, Velenje is the centre of the Šalek Valley and we strive to preserve the fragments of its rich history. The natives live hand in hand with the history, industrial-mining-electric energy tradition, and various architectural styles on one hand, and on the other hand with every day needs of a contemporary city. Municipal rights were awarded to Velenje on September 20, 1959 which means that this is a young city, but there is a lot it can offer to eventual visitors.
Velenje is a city of youth and motion; it is the educational and sport centre of the Šalek valley and is a city of culture. The cultural appearance of the city is shaped by the cultural institution Kulturni center Ivan Napotnik, music school Glasbena šola Fran Korun Koželjski, youth center Mladinski center Velenje and a number of other organizers of various events.
The city of Velenje is becoming an important member in the tourist chain. In 1999 we became a prestigious award for the most tidy European city and a gold medal in a competition of European cities and villages - Entente Florale. In the past years we have been achieving good results in the category of large cities in the competition called My Country – Tidy and Hospitable, launched by the National Tourist Association.
If you reach Velenje from the Celje direction you will enter the Šalek Valley under a mighty Velenje castle. Together with the neighboring castles of Šalek and Ekenštajn, it has been for many years watching over the routes from Celje basin to Koroška, and withstood the ravages of time.
Today, the castle is hosting the Velenje Museum. The Museum proudly possesses ten historical and art collections: The Šalek Valley between Romanic Period and Baroque, Mastodon Remains Collection, African Artefacts by František Foit, Collection of Baroque Artefacts from the Sv. Jurij Church in Škale; Lojze Perko Gallery; Slovenian Fine Arts of the XXth Century; Reconstruction of an old Grocery Shop; Reconstruction of an old Inn; »How Velenje was built« and a model of a coal pit.
When we speak of museums, we must not forget to mention the underground Museum of Coal Mining in Slovenia. The museum has been awarded a special prize for the European Museum forum for the year 2001. Some 180 m underground the visitors can see a coal pit, underground railway and get familiar with the secrets of the underground world of mining.
The Šalek castle is situated above the Šalek settlement and is most probably the oldest building in the Šalek valley and also named after it. The castle was deserted after 1770 – however the castle tower, the oldest parts of the castle, is fairly good preserved and unique by its triangular shape.
Along the Velenje Lake lays a tourist recreational centre Jezero Resort. If you visit the lake, you will enjoy the paths around the lake, visit the garden camp called Kinta Kunte – your can also actively spend your free time at the lake – there are number of courtyards for tennis, mini golf, seven-a-side yard, beach volley, street ball, horse riding centre, up-to-date football and athletic ground and a modern fitness studio in the so called White Hall. You can also take a bath or fish in the lake.
The very centre of the city also offers many sport enjoyments, the plasticized ski jump attracts viewers from Slovenia and also abroad to come and see the every year Continental Cup and Championship for the Miner's Lamp. The so called Red Hall situated in the very centre of the city includes courts for ball games, table tennis, squash, badminton. Next to the Red Hall is a swimming pool area with one large Olympic swimming pool and a smaller one indoor pool. A large sports recreational park is planned to be erected near the Jezero Resort. The city and its neighborhood therefore provide lots of possibilities for all the keen sports fans.
Enthusiasts and party lovers will find their chances in the city of opportunities. The Šalek valley and the city of Velenje every month attract visitors to join the numerous cultural and other events: some of them traditional and a number of occasional ones. Speaking of traditional events, we cannot pass the Max Jazz Festival, Days of Youth and Culture, Summer Cultural Events, Miner's Traditional Event, Equestrian Race, The Night at the Lake, Kunigunda –Festival of Young Cultures, Cither's Festival and of course the largest children festival in Slovenija: the Pippi Longstoking Festival. During the year, there are numerous music events (the violin and organ school, organized by the Music School) and sports events (international athletic meeting).
In Slovenija as well as all over the world, Velenje is renowned for the successes of the top athletes coming from Velenje. Most outstanding no doubt is Jolanda Čeplak, in 2002 a proud European indoor champion, holder of new world record and European indoor champion in 800 m outdoor race. Next to the excellent athletic results, we must not forget other sports – tennis, handball, football, basketball, volleyball, combat sports, swimming, table tennis, equestrian sports, bowling, and rifle shooting... The local community is thriving to develop sports activities – we want all the sports fans to have better conditions for training. This is why we are most pleased to see the Šalek valley last year celebrating its 50th anniversary of handball. To a number of excellent results on the national level, they ended up the season 1994/95 by participation of the Gorenje handball club in the European Cup. Nothing can endanger the future of sport – a fact which was proved by the junior members of the national handball team: during the last European Championship in Gdansk, Poland they ended up on the second place. Three young sportsmen from Velenje play in this team, and next year they will participate at the World Championship in Brazil. This goes to show, that there is the future of sport in Velenje which we believe will bring to many successes.
Velenje for sure has lots to offer to a numerous visitors with various demands and expectations. We believe that the various cultural, tourist and sports events will satisfy and please lots of visitors.