While I was in Vienna, I had the chance to go to Graz. It was a day trip. Despite my work meeting, I went a bit around the small city. It is the capital of Styria in Austria and it offers a huge number of attractions. Most of them coming from the past, others as unique examples of modern architecture. I didn’t know Graz and I couldn’t visit many things, but I am happy about what I see. Of course, I hope to go back there to see more.
I went there by bus in the morning, because I had time and I wanted to try to enjoy the landscapes, then I went back to Vienna in the evening by train. The organization of both means of transport is at a high level. It didn’t surprise me, because Austrians are punctual and precise. The distance between Graz and the capital of Austria is about 200 kilometers, so with the public transports, you need more or less three hours to get there, because of the stops. What to see in Graz? I will answer this question showing you pictures and writing about what I saw in the small city.
Graz: some information
Before to go deep into the description of my little tour, I want to give you some information about the capital of Styria. There are around 330.000 inhabitants, but part of the soul and of the vitality of Graz comes from the 60.000 students. The city counts six universities and it hosts young people from all over the world. Its historic center is one of the most well preserved in Central Europe and I can guarantee that it is really amazing.
Graz is protected as Unesco Heritage and was Cultural Capital of Europe and City of Culinary Delights. History and culture are surely the keywords for this place. In fact, in every corner, you can read the history and discover the tradition. The soul is not only Austrian because Graz was considered by Slovenes the cultural and political center in past centuries. I highly recommend you to visit this marvelous city. Let me show you my tour now.
The Castle of Graz
In Graz, the castle represents one of the main attractions and it is located in the center of the town on a hill. The building was almost never used and partially demolished at the beginning of the 19th century by Napoleonic forces. Italian architects built the fortress in the 16th century and that makes me proud, as you can imagine. In the 10th century, locals created the walls around the castle. Going around you can walk in a superb park and enjoy the view of Graz from the top. It is really amazing. If you like to walk you can use the stairs placed on the rock to go up from the downtown.
The Clock Tower
Visiting the castle you have to see the Clock Tower. Its architecture reminds easily to the Austrian style, but also the clock itself is very interesting. The advanced mechanism and the decoration are surely the reason why you should see it. But I suggest you enter the tower and to enjoy the view from the top. It looks like to be in a fable. The tower is in the middle of the park, with marvelous flowers and trees all around.
Going back to the Graz downtown you can see the museum dedicated to local historical military equipment. Don’t worry if this is not the thing you like, because I am mentioning this place for the architecture. The ancient building that host permanent exposition is very nice. It deserves a picture, especially for the facade decorations and for the entrance. I let the pictures show why.
The main square of Graz is the real center of the city since the Medieval age. At that time space was occupied by the market. Now you can see many ancient and prestigious buildings. I suggest when you will be in the square, to focus on the architecture of each construction. It is not only about the shape, but especially for the beautiful decorations and frescoes. The city hall is only one of the important places. In the square, they can still see the wooden porticoes under which exchanges took place. The Sportgasse building offers an impressive façade with late 17th century stuccos.
Opera of Graz is another important building. I didn’t have the chance to enter, but if you have time put it on your list. The construction is nice and of course, Austria is one of the best countries where to attend classical music concerts and opera. That’s why you should go to this place. I can only show you the palace from outside with my pictures.
Graz double spiral stairs
The regional government in Graz has a unique headquarter. In fact, the Burg is a Gothic building restored and changed many times in the centuries. There are also some elements of Renaissance and Biedermeier eras. What is really curious and original is the way to go up. It looks strange, but double spiral staircase it is real. Yes, when you enter the building the staircase appears like an optical illusion. Here you can see the pictures.
In Graz there are many churches, starting from the cathedral and like Italian, I am used to seeing them. The one I visited is Mariahilferkirche. It was build in the 17th century and partially rebuilt in the 18th century. Entering it looks not rich from the artistic point of view. This may be because it is small, but the altar is really superb. Then I saw also a couple of more churches very quickly and I appreciated them. Also if you are not religious, I recommend you to take a look.
History and tradition come out from most of the local buildings, but where is the modernity? Surely from Kunsthaus Graz. “Friendly Alien” is the name of the Modern Art Gallery. People agree with this definition because it is completely different from everything around. It looks like something came from another planet, like an invasion. It is close to the river and you can see it at the last moment walking on the street. Some buildings hide it, so you are surprised when you have it in front of you.
I am not a fan of contemporary architecture, but I am curious, so I started to go around the building in Graz, to understand how it was. Well, it is not well combined with the rest of the places there, but maybe, for this reason, you can almost fall in love with it. The gallery expresses perfectly the style of the artworks exposed.
The last thing I saw before to move to the train station was the local park. Very nice, well kept and with some lovely monuments. I let “talk” the few pictures I took there.
Just one day in Graz. The last one before to go back to my hotel in Vienna and the morning after going to Italy. I was sad because I couldn’t see that much. Surely I will organize myself to be in Graz again on my next trip to Austria. You can easily spend there a few days because it is full of monuments, museums, and many attractive places.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you more about Graz, but next time I will share some other information, experience and also better pictures. If you plan a trip there get inspiration from my short tour. If you want to know more about the country, read the guide about Austria written on the AllTheRooms Blog.