Ravne’s city centre is an old market, once known as Guštanj (Gutenstein). First settlement in Ravne’s surroundings dates back to the Antiquity era, when a Roman road led through here. Roman ceramics, mosaic stones, brick and money have been found on a place where Ravne’s steel industry is located nowadays. First mentioning of Ravne if from1248 when Ravne had been mentioned as Guttenstein, and later in 1317 Guštanj was mentioned as a market. In the 14th century Guštanj gained the market right in the principality and was therefore entitled to host four annual fairs and collect fees. From the end of the 16th century onward Guštanj had its own coat-of-arms and an official seal which was green containing a tree with three treetops. Inhabitants of the market town Guštanj had the right of freedom, yet the market did not have a full self-government.
Guštanj was a trading and craft centre with many shoemakers, blacksmiths, potters, tanners, painters and other craftsmen. The tailor’s guild was active from 1749. In the 16th and the 17th century the market obtained the right to host three new annual fairs which helped in the growth of trading and craft. The beginnings of the ironwork industry date back to 1620. Industrial production of iron began after the year of 1774 when first smithies and nail factories had been formed along the river Meža. In 1807 all ironworks were bought by counts Thurn, who extended the production of iron and steel products. In 1848 more than 1200 workers were employed in coal mines and ironworks in Guštanj, Prevalje, Črna, Mežica and Leše. In 1863 Guštanj got a railway connection which helped increase the rapid economic development in the second half of the 19th century.
The basis of this development was the steel industry which gained a chance of further development with the decline of the ironworks in Črna, Mežica and Prevalje. Even before WWI, Ravne’s quality steel had been sold to Middle and Far East as well as Russia. Besides the production of noble steels Ravne Ironworks began with the production of finished products for the needs of agriculture, traffic and railroads in the end of the 1930s. Due to fast development of the steel industry, other economic branches were in decline, especially craft. During WWII Ravne Ironworks was producing war related products and this resulted in its fast development. Another turning point was in 1946 when a foundry, a quality steel rolling mill, a mechanic workshop for pneumatic hammers and a forge shop were built. After the Ironworks had been electrified, a rolling mill, and a tempering plant began with its production. Guštanj was developing along with the development of the steel industry and in 1952 Guštanj was granted the city right and changed its name into Ravne na Koroškem.
In the urban environment of Ravne na Koroškem you are able to see sculptures made of steel, called Forma viva. These are unique pieces of art, made during international art symposiums. Sculptors’ symposiums held in the second half of the 20th century presented a novelty in art which increased the mobility of sculptors during international exchanges and consequently brought the achievements of modern sculpture closer to the public. Following the example from Ravne, many sculpture manifestations were held in Slovenia under the name Forma viva (meaning a living form). These manifestations were held in Kostanjevica, Seča pri Portorožu, Ravne na Koroškem, and Maribor. Their motto was to create a whole of internationally motivated sculptures which were based on materials found in the surrounding area. In Ravne, the ironwork and industrial atmosphere is a result of more than 300 year old tradition of the ironwork industry in Koroška. This heritage presented the basis for 7 international Forma viva symposiums held in Ravne.