Roman finds in the area speak about the trails that ran by the area long before the beginnings of the town of Dravograd. Among these we can find the tombstone engraved with the inscription of the cemetery of Šentjanž. Many centuries before the area was inhabited by the Palaeolithic hunter and a small stone axe found in Trbonje from the period of the early Stone Age bears proof to his existence.
Dravograd began to be mentioned in written language in the middle of the 12th century, under the name of Traberch. On the strategic traffic location (Drava divided the Salzburg archdiocese in the north from the Oglej archdiocese in the south) the Trušenjski nobles built a castle on the hill above the junction of the rivers. A settlement of merchants and craftsmen slowly began to form on the flatlands under the castle. In 1185 the settlement already had square rights. It is described in the documents as a square with two courts, the Church of St. Vid (Sveti Vid), a bridge, a ferry and a border station built due to the closeness of the land border. The convenient traffic location influenced the development of trade and craftsmanship, legal and administration functions based in the courts grew stronger across the area of the square, surrounded by the defensive wall. People travelled, through the town and traded goods; a lot of trade was done with the help of the ferry and the river. In the middle ages, Dravograd became one of the most important towns in the entire area of the Dravska valley.
In the 13th century a fort began to grow on the other side of the river Drava, to protect the passage from the Dravska into the Mislinjska valley. On the grounds owned by the nobility of Slovenj Gradec they built a castle Puchenstein, today known under the name of Pukštajn. Its ruins still stand today above the manor Bukovje which was built in the 18th century due to destructive fires. At the end of the 19th century the owners re-built it into a baroque manor with an image that has been very much preserved to present day.
In the Middle Ages a lot of settlements began to form in the area of the community of Dravograd. They all centred around local churches. And that is how settlements Črneče, Libeliče, Trbonje and Šentjanž came to be. The population kept growing and proof of this can be found in the building of more churches for the religious needs of local farmers in smaller settlements Vič, Ojstrica and Boštjan, which are located in more remote areas. Archaic farmhouses on the hillsides of Košenjak, Pohorje, Selovec and the Libeliška gora are still preserved in their original structure to this day. They have been this way since the settlement of farmers under the management of the feudal lords in the period from the 13th to the 15th century.
At the end of the 13th century after the end of the Trušenjski nobles, the lords of the nobility of Dravograd began to exchange. For a while the charge was in the hands of the Counts of Celje and the Habsburgs. The castle had an important defensive role. Within its mighty walls it had 21 cannons ready to fire at the enemy. The exposure of the area was especially critical during the times of the Turkish invasions and the later wars of the 20th century. By then of course the castle had already been abandoned as it began to demolish after the owners left in the middle of the 19th century. After the industrialization period Dravograd began to modernize overnight. Close to the square a glass factory and an iron hatchery began their operation and on the right bank of the river Drava, a factory of lubricants and later on an oil refinery. A textile factory opened in Otiški Vrh.
The merchant, economic and cultural connections expanded with the construction of the railway network in the second half of the 19th century. Due to the opening of the power plant on the river Drava in 1943 as well as the better road infrastructure the ferry transport along the river slowly came top its end.
A very important event for the town and the development of the community was the move of the head of the region to Dravograd. But the event was shadowed by the upcoming Second World War which brought many changes and after the war a new country with a development momentum. In the period of Slovenia’s fight for independence this was the area of decisive events. Dravograd with its individualistic tradition has always been part of the important events typical for the wider European area.
The historical beat of Dravograd is intertwined with everyday life. The rich heritage and the beauties of nature can be an inspiration for the traditional and modern cultural creating. Even in the old city centre with the preserved medieval town structure of one of the oldest towns in Slovenia where the stone walls of the St. Vid (Sveti Vid) church respectfully remind of the years that have passed, and contribute to the diverse cultural activities in its ambient. Or even a glance at the shadowy ruin of the west castle wall on the hill, a ghost of the once mighty castle structure. From there the view reaches out toward the diverse landscape with little settlements, churches and individual farmhouses. The museum collections tell the stories of the land and aid with exploring little fragments of history. A collection of a variety of cultural events can be seen in the manor Bukovje and in the countryside the ethnological peculiarities walk hand in hand with friendly homeliness.
Museum collections and individual monuments tell the tale of the story of Dravograd. A short overview of the history of the area can be found in the middle of the market town in the exhibition rooms of the information office right next to the church of St. Vid (Sveti Vid). The typical Roman church of Koroška with the east bell tower which was built around the year 1170 is the oldest preserved architecture example in the city centre as well as the entire area of Slovenia. A special place among the roman monuments in Slovenia also goes to the preserved charnel house of St. Mihael (Sveti Mihael) from the 12th century which can be found in the town of Libeliče in the cemetery next to the church of St. Martin (Sveti Martin). The sacral monument’s present a time of the beginning and the changes that were brought on by the new eras: The church of St. John (Sveti Janez) the Baptist church in Šentjanž from the 13th century, the church of St. John (Sveti Janez) the evangelist, from the 14th century on the western edge of the town of Dravograd, and the church of St. Lenart (Sveti Lenrat) in the village Vič that was built in the 15th century. In the 17th century the church of the Holy Spirit (Sveti Duh) was built underneath the hillside of Ojstrica. Its particularity is a wooden ceiling painted with ornaments that represent the artistic culture that made its way from the town to the countryside. This type of ceiling is the largest preserved example of its kind in the entire country. One of the most beautiful examples from the Baroque period is the roman church of St Peter (Sveti Peter) on the Kronska gora. Libeliška gora is home to a very special triangular marking from the end of the 18th century, the Trotov Cross is one of many and its symbolic meaning marks the area of its creation at the juncture of three parishes. The countryside around the town is seeded with mountain settlements and rural farms, jewels of old buildings in their original form used for living and working: farmhouses, granaries, hayracks, barns, rarely sawmills and mills once common among the numerous streams. Old traditions are still very much alive in certain places; they have been handed down from generation to generation.
From the recent history a permanent exhibition can be viewed in the manor Bukovje, about the independence war of Slovenia from 1991. The shocking events of World War Two and its period can be seen in the basement areas of the Town Hall building which used to be the Gestapo prison cells. In Šentjanž near Dravograd in the National Fighters’ hall (Dom borcev) you can see the memories of the famous Slovene national defence camp from 7th April 1918, where a small declaration was presented and it is one of the fundamentals of the Slovene independence.
The museum the plebiscite of Koroška in Libeliče paints a picture of the event in Koroška after the World War. It is set in the town parish, and you can see a former classroom and a black kitchen. Libeliče also present their history with the exhibition of their ethnological collection of tools and events, they are especially proud of the efforts after the plebiscite due to which they were able to join the homeland in 1922 which is a particularity in the European history.