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From Ljubljana, several main roads – the fastest of which is the A1 highway – head eastwards to Celje, which lies at the heart of the Lower Savinja Valley (Spodnja Savinjska Dolina), a predominantly flat, fairly densely populated landscape raked with vast hop plantations and wheat fields and punctuated by the occasional industrial enterprise.
Slovenia's third-largest city after Ljubljana and Maribor, though with a population that still just barely tops the fifty thousand mark, Celje derives its name from the Roman settlement, Celeia, a key administrative centre of the Roman province of Noricum. Despite its heavy industry, modern-day Celje is not an unattractive place, and worthy of a full day's sightseeing thanks to its clutch of impressive churches and buildings, and one of the largest castles in the country.