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Glorious Graz, Austria.

The Forgotten City.

all seasons in one day

View from Schlossberg. - Graz

View from Schlossberg. - Graz

Glorious Graz.

We visited Graz in July 2014. This was our second visit to this lovely city and a lot more successful than the first one. Our first visit to Graz was in the 1980s. We had been working in Austria over the summer, then we had purchased a travel card and decided to travel round for a few days. We did not have much money in those days and were supposed to stay with a friend in Graz for one night. However, this arrangement fell through when we got to Graz and we ended up staying with a friend in Vienna. Thus we travelled all the way to Graz only to leave very quickly to go to Vienna. In order to try and see a bit of Graz before going to Vienna we did climb up to the fortress at speed and walk round it at speed. All I remember is being totally exhausted by the end of it.

The Bell Tower - Graz

The Bell Tower - Graz

On our second visit. We stayed overnight in the Ibis Hotel near the station. We walked off to visit the fortress in brilliant sunshine and arrived at the foot of it in torrential rain with no umbrellas, jackets or anything. I thought it would be another disastrous visit, but as quickly as it had appeared the rain disappeared and out came the sun again. We spent a lot of time exploring the fortress hill then headed off to the old town. We visited the town hall, cathedral, glockenspiel, churches, statues, squares, parks and more. My only complaint is that we should have allocated Graz two nights instead of one as it really was a beautiful city with lots to see.

Happy Faces, Graz. - Graz

Happy Faces, Graz. - Graz

In my opinion Graz gets rather overshadowed by more famous Austrian cities such as Vienna, Salzburg. I found it much more pleasant and interesting than either of these places. It deserved to be swarming with tourists but thankfully was not. It had a much more relaxed and easy going feel to it than Vienna or Salzburg. Of the four Austrian cities I have visited I would definitely say Graz is my favourite.

Graz is the second largest city in Austria after Vienna and the capital of the region of Styria. With its six universities, it is known as a student city. In 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites. Graz was sole Cultural Capital of Europe for 2003 and got the title of a City of Culinary Delights in 2008.

Schlossberg.

Graz has a hilltop fortress called Schlossberg. Even if you are not into old fortresses, you would probably still love Schlossberg for its beautiful views over Graz. You can gaze over the old town and the Mur River and also over some of Graz's more modern sights. I also liked the lion statues on Schlossberg. There were two worn stone ones near the bell tower and a bronze one on the far side of the Schlossberg, not far from the funicular station. Directions: Take one of the many paths around the castle, or take the lift or steps from Schlossbergplatz, or the Schlossbergbahn from further on up the riverside.

View from Schlossberg - Graz

View from Schlossberg - Graz

View from Schlossberg - Graz

View from Schlossberg - Graz

View from Schlossberg - Graz

View from Schlossberg - Graz

Hanging Gardens - Graz

Hanging Gardens - Graz

Hanging Gardens - Graz

Hanging Gardens - Graz

Tunnels. - Graz

Tunnels. - Graz

More colourful flowers. - Graz

More colourful flowers. - Graz

Clock Tower from Hanging Gardens - Graz

Clock Tower from Hanging Gardens - Graz

Peter with bronze lion statue. - Graz

Peter with bronze lion statue. - Graz

Bronze Lion - Graz

Bronze Lion - Graz

Stone Lions - Graz

Stone Lions - Graz

The Clock Tower - Graz

The Clock Tower - Graz

Part of Fortress - Graz

Part of Fortress - Graz

Statue near Clock Tower - Graz

Statue near Clock Tower - Graz

That Clock Tower Again. - Graz

That Clock Tower Again. - Graz

Stairway up. - Graz

Stairway up. - Graz

The Hauptplatz ­ Main Square.

Graz's Hauptplatz is a wonderful square where you can find Graz's town hall, a bustling market and a lovely fountain. There are many ornate buildings next to the square. Graz Town Hall was initially built in 1550. The original building was quite simple and also acted as a prison. This building was replaced in 1803 by a newer and larger building in the classical style.The current ornate town hall dates from the nineteenth century. In front of the town hall there is a lovely fountain which dates from 1878. This fountain is dedicated to the Styrian prince, Archduke Johann. He lived from 1782 to 1859 and was instrumental in the development of Styria. The prince has four female figures around him. These symbolize the rivers Mur, Enns, Drava and Sann. The Luegg houses next to the Hauptplatz are ornate house with a stuccoed facades. Directions: In the centre of the city, underneath the town hall.

Luegg Houses - Graz

Luegg Houses - Graz

Luegg Houses - Graz

Luegg Houses - Graz

Market - Graz

Market - Graz

Town Hall - Graz

Town Hall - Graz

Fountain. - Graz

Fountain. - Graz

Palais Saurau.

We walked uphill from the Hauptplatz in search of the carving of an armed Turk on the roof of the Palais Saurau. I must admit I walked straight past it first time. It is so high up it is difficult to see and photographing it involves a zoom. Palais Saurau was built in 1566 by Pankraz von Windischgrätz. The Saurau Family have owned this building since 1630. There are different legends about the Turkish carving. One claims that the Turks had captured all of Graz except Schlossberg and a Turkish pasha took over the Palais Saurau. As he sat down to dinner, a cannonball fired from Schlossberg landed on his table destroying his meal. This legend is false as the Turks never controlled Graz, but as they were expanding the Ottoman Empire in places nearby, the people of Graz probably lived in fear of them. That may have inspired the carving.

Palais Saurau

Palais Saurau

Palais Saurau

Palais Saurau

Palais Saurau

Palais Saurau

Graz Cathedral.

Graz Cathedral is also called St. Giles' Cathedral. It was built in 1462 by Friederick III on the site of an earlier Church of St Giles. In 1564 it was made into the court church, and in 1786 the seat of the local Bishops. It is a lovely, peaceful building to visit. Next to the cathedral is the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II. Address: Burggasse 1. Directions: From the town hall, take a right down Sporgasse, and then right again into Hofgasse. The Cathedral is at the end of the street on your right.

The Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II. - Graz

The Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II. - Graz

The Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II. - Graz

The Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II. - Graz

Graz Cathedral - Graz

Graz Cathedral - Graz

The Burg.

The Burg is just across the road from the cathedral. This building dates from the fifteenth century. The Burg was the official headquarters of the regional government. It is famous for its double spiral staircase ­ the stairway of reconciliation. One person goes one way and the other person the opposite and they meet up on every landing. This stairway dates from 1499. This building also has a statue filled garden with busts of famous Styrians - ­the Styrian Gallery of Honour. Behind it is the lovely Burg Garden. Directions: From the town hall, take a right down Sporgasse, and then another right down Hofgasse. It's on the left side of the road from the Cathedral.

The Stairway of Reconciliation. - Graz

The Stairway of Reconciliation. - Graz

The Stairway of Reconciliation. - Graz

The Stairway of Reconciliation. - Graz

From the Burg Garden - Graz

From the Burg Garden - Graz

From the Burg Garden - Graz

From the Burg Garden - Graz

The Styrian Gallery of Honor - Graz

The Styrian Gallery of Honor - Graz

The Glockenspiel.

In 1884 Gottfried Maurer, a wine merchant, bought a house in Fliegenplatzl Square and decided to have a carillon installed there, because he had enjoyed visiting these on his travels through Belgium and Germany. The carillion played for the first time on Christmas Eve 1905. In 1929 Gottfried Maurer bequeathed the carillon to the city of Graz, on the condition that they kept on playing it. In World War II the bells were taken away and used to make arms, but thankfully they were renewed in 1956. The Graz glockenspiel plays three times a day at 11am, 3pm and 6pm. A man and lady dressed in traditional Styrian national costume come out and dance. Of course, being totally disorganized, we went at the wrong time and did not see the glockenspiel in action. It is located in a pretty square with a cafe. Address: Glockenspielplatz 1. Directions: From Sporgasse, walk down Farbergasse. Keep going until you see the glockenspiel.

Glockenspiel Square - Graz

Glockenspiel Square - Graz

Glockenspiel Square - Graz

Glockenspiel Square - Graz

Glockenspiel Square - Graz

Glockenspiel Square - Graz

Landhaus.

Graz's historic landhaus is located on Herrengasse not far from the town hall. Before the landhaus was built leaders from different parts of Styria used to meet in various castles and monasteries, but they wanted a more permanent venue. In 1557 the Italian architect Domenico dell’Allio started to build the landhaus for this purpose. Even now this building is still the provincial parliament of Styria. This building is beautiful and has a lovely arcaded Renaissance style courtyard. Address: Herrengasse.

The courtyard - Graz

The courtyard - Graz

Faun Statue, Landhaus Courtyard. - Graz

Faun Statue, Landhaus Courtyard. - Graz

Painted Houses.

There are some lovely painted houses on Herrengasse. These buildings were painted for the first time at the beginning of the seventeenth century. At that time the houses were used by the Habsburgs for carrying out their official business. From the year 1600 onwards, a brother of the future emperor Ferdinand II lived in one of these houses. He had it painted by Ferdinand's court painter Giovanni Pietro de Pomis. The Baroque painter Johann Mayer painted the divine frescos here in 1742. The houses changed ownership many times and eventually became the property of a money changer, Franz von Lathurner. He paid the artist Johann Mayer to fresco the façade again. Almost nothing of the original facade remained. Directions: Starts at the central Hauptplatz.

Painted houses - Graz

Painted houses - Graz

Painted houses - Graz

Painted houses - Graz

Painted houses - Graz

Painted houses - Graz

Church of Our Lady of Succor (Mariahilferkirche),

This is a beautiful church on the banks of the Mur River. It faces towards Schlossberg and is near the Mur Insel. There are good views over this church and its square from the Schlossberg.

Church of Our Lady of Succor (Mariahilferkirche), - Graz

Church of Our Lady of Succor (Mariahilferkirche), - Graz

The Mur Insel.

Graz has a mixture of very old and ultra­-modern sights. The alien looking art gallery on the Mur Insel is one of the ultra­-modern ones. The Mur Insel is an artificial island on the Mur River. It is made of metal and glass. There is a cafe inside. Although it is called an island it is more like a ship as it floats, has an anchor and is held in place by the footbridges on each side. It was designed by American artist Vito Acconci when Graz became European City of Culture in 2003. At the time the island was being built, the river was also being cleaned up, so many people of Graz associate the island with getting their lovely river back. Directions: A little way up Lendkai from the Kunsthaus you can find it spanning the river.

The Mur Insel - Graz

The Mur Insel - Graz

The Mur Insel - Graz

The Mur Insel - Graz

Ultra Modern Art Museum - Graz

Ultra Modern Art Museum - Graz

The Volksgarten Graz.

This is a pleasant little park with open green spaces, a pond, a water ­wheel and a Buddhist Peace Pagoda. There is a pretty little church on the edge of the park.

Peace Pagoda, Volksgarten - Graz

Peace Pagoda, Volksgarten - Graz

Volksgarten - Graz

Volksgarten - Graz

Church near Volksgarten - Graz

Church near Volksgarten - Graz

Waterwheel, Volksgarten - Graz

Waterwheel, Volksgarten - Graz

Chinese Pagoda and Mur River. - Graz

Chinese Pagoda and Mur River. - Graz

Pagoda - Graz

Pagoda - Graz

Shop Signs.

Graz had some really great shop signs. I always look for these when I travel in European cities because I find them very creative and interesting. Some of my favourites are shown in the attached photos.

Shop Signs

Shop Signs

When we stayed overnight in Graz we stayed in the Ibis Hotel not far from the railway station.

"Very Handy For The Station" Ibis Graz

We stayed in this hotel for one night in July 2014. The hotel is in a great location when you have just arrived by train. Just exit the main train station and it is right there in front of you. Check ­in was friendly and efficient. Our room was a typical Ibis room. It was clean, basic, but comfortable enough for a short stay. It was nice and quiet and we slept really well here. The hotel is near a Spar Supermarket and a Billa Supermarket. We did not have breakfast at the hotel, but easily bought bread from a nearby bakery and cheese/ cold meat from the nearby Spar. To get to the centre of Graz from the hotel on foot took around 20 minutes. There were various routes. We could have gone by bus as there is a bus station just outside the hotel in front of the train station. There were restaurants not too far from the hotel. Check­out was quick and efficient. I would happily stay here again. Graz turned out to be a much more interesting city than I had expected. There was plenty to see there and it was not overwhelmed by tourists. Address: Europaplatz 12, Graz, Styria, 8020, Austria.

Our Room. - Graz

Our Room. - Graz

Posted by irenevt 06:30 Archived in Austria

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Comments

Graz looks fascinating. Guess that goes on our to-do list. You're a real inspiration.

by Beausoleil

Ha ha, Graz is well worth visiting and so is Linz and both less touristy. Actually if I'm being honest my least favourite Austrian city is Salzburg and my favourite Graz.

by irenevt

Hello, Irene! Thanks for your story about your favorite Austrian city.

by Vic_IV

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