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Graz

Green heart of Austria
Graz, a city that invites you to stroll through it at a leisurely pace to discover alleys, romantic courtyards, and ornate facades that blend together to form one of the best preserved old towns in Central Europe. The capital of Styria and known as the “green heart of Austria”, Graz has several very striking features, from its old town, with a decidedly Renaissance layout - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - to its lively cultural life, and to finish, unique traditional cuisine of the highest quality. 
 
 
Dishes that take inspiration from the wholesome, fresh produce from the surrounding areas, and sold in the Farmers’ Market on Kaiser-Josef-Platz. Straight from the farm to the table.
 
Clock Tower, the Uhrturm
Montecastello
The surrounding area is made up of woods and forests by more than 60%. In order to appreciate a panoramic view of the city, a trip to the Grazer Schloßberg (literally translated as Mountain Castle) - either by funicular or lift - is recommended. This green and wooded hill rises 200 metres from the square below. 
 
On the hill it is possible to admire the Clock Tower, the Uhrturm, the city’s landmark, inside the small castle that more than 1000 years ago gave its name to the city: in fact, ‘Gradac’ meant ‘castle’ in Slavic, a name that over time became Graz.
 
At the base of the ‘Castle Mountain’, the Schlossberg, the historic centre, stretches forth. A pedestrianised centre with buildings, churches, houses with traditional terracotta roofs, spectacular monuments interspersed with avant-garde buildings, such as the Kunsthaus, the Museum of Modern Art, shaped like a blue bubble, the Murinsel (literally Mur island), a steel structure in the shape of a shell which floats on the river, both inaugurated in 2003 when the city was named “city of culture”.
 
 
This is a city that invites you to stroll through it at a leisurely pace to discover alleys, romantic courtyards, and ornate facades that blend together to form one of the best preserved old towns in Central Europe. The buildings are a succession of wonders: for example, the Landhaushof, the Palace of Reason, whose courtyard is considered a Renaissance masterpiece, or the Generalihof, with its beautiful facade completely painted in soft colours, and the precious Herzogsof courtyard, the Court of the Prince.
 
Central Square and City Hall
The heart of the city is the Central Square, which features the grandiose City Hall with its spires and domes. The so called “crown” of the city includes monuments such as the Cathedral, the Burg, the old University, today’s Seminary (former Jesuit College), along with the Mausoleum, with its turquoise domes and Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, dedicated to the patroness of the university. The cathedral dedicated to St. Giles is also noteworthy and one of the most significant monuments of the city, of a late Gothic style and with a spectacular interior, divided into halls, with Baroque details.
 
Isola artificiale sul fiume Mur
The River Mur
The banks of the River Mur, which runs through the city, are made lively by boutiques, street cafes, quaint taverns and wine shops.
 
The Franciscan district is truly original, known as the “district of calves” due to the numerous butchers shops, once upon a time leaning against the friars’ convent, where today meats and sausages are sold, a fashionable place for the young and not so young, a place to breathe the fresh Mediterranean air.
 
The vibrant cultural life of Graz manifests itself not only due to the presence of its prestigious university, the oldest in Austria, where 6 Nobel Prize winners studied and taught, but also thanks to its museums and the many events that add to the city’s continuous rhythm throughout the year: Styriarte, La Strada Street Theatre Festival, Styrian Autumn, the Jazz Sommer, the Styrian Festival, just to name a few. But the most extraordinary period in Graz is Advent. Not only for the presence of its beautiful markets, but especially for the spectacle of the huge ice nativity scene (50 metric tonnes worth), set up in the Landhaus courtyard.
 
The local cuisine
The territory that surrounds the town is rich in vineyards, apple and pumpkin crops, from which the prized, traditional pumpkin seed oilis made, as well as large expanses of alpine tree farms. This leads to a unique cuisine, that offers pumpkin soup, fillet of ox, apple strudel, and the prized Zotter chocolate, as well as a delicious sun-dried ham. The wines are also well renowned, including Chardonnay, Zweigelt, and Muller Thurgau.
 
Pumpkin soup
Wiener schnitzel
Apple strudel
 
Where to sleep in Graz
 

Graz is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.

To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.

 

 
Text by Anna Glik
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Video: www.graztourismus.at
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
Update Octorber 2018
 
 
Tourism Board

www.graztourismus.at

WHERE TO GO
Monuments

Many monuments and museums form part of the Joanneum Universal Museum, which contains various sub-sections

 

EGGENBERG CASTLE

This is the most important castle of Styria, commissioned by Prince Hans Hulrich von Eggenberg in the seventeenth century and realised by architect Giovanni Piero De Pomis, a student of Palladio. The exterior is inspired by the Spanish El Escorial, whilst the interior is an architectural representation of the Universe, with illustrations of the passing of time, celestial mechanics and the terrestrial hierarchy. The main floor consists of 24 decorated and furnished rooms, such as the Games Room and the Hall of Planets.

www.museum-joanneum.at

LANDHAUSHOF

The Renaissance building, designed by Italian architect Domenico Dell’Aglio, is rich in stucco decorations on the inside. The Council Hall with its ceiling decorated with figures and coats of arms by Angelo Fiorentini is well worth visiting. Music festivals and events are held in the arched courtyard. The Armoury is adjacent, once a depot for the war material used to defend Styria, which houses 30,000 weapons and armour from the past.

www.museum-joanneum.at/landeszeughaus

 

 

MAUSOLEUM

Located next to the cathedral, the mausoleum was designed as a memorial to Emperor Ferdinand II by the Italian Pietro De Pomis, and is the most lavish tomb ever created for an Austrian Emperor. The façade is in a Mannerist Baroque style, and is surmounted by turquoise domes.

www.domgraz.at

MURINSEL

This is a 50 by 20 meter platform that resembles a large shell in the middle of the river which can hold up to 350 visitors. Inside there is a cafe, where you can relax surrounded by the waters of the Mur.

 

 

CLOCK TOWER

It is located on the Schlossberg hill and is the ‘Symbol’ of Graz. Its current version dates back to the mid sixteenth century and is visible from many points in the city thanks to the imposing bastion on which the clock is placed. In the past it not only told the time, but also warned citizens in the event of disasters. The Styrian coat of arms (Styrian Panther) graces one of its corners, the eagle of Habsburg on another, and the double eagle of Maria Theresa on another.

CATHEDRAL

Dedicated to St. Giles, the cathedral was built as a court church by Frederick III. Its external appearance in a late Gothic style, appears modest. On the southern facade to the left, there is a painting of the three plagues (the plague, the Turks and Locusts) that devastated Styria in 1480. Inside, it houses jewellery such as the two renaissance reliquaries on each side of the altar, in a baroque style.

www.domgraz.at

 

MARIATROST BASILICA

This is a Marian shrine dating back to 1714, one of the most renowned in Styria due to the miracles achieved by the Virgin Mary, and located on the top of Purberg Hill. It is visible from afar thanks to its imposing bell towers, the top of which can be reached by climbing more than 200 steps. The interior is remarkable due its frescoes that depict the victory of Lepanto against the Turks thanks to the miraculous intervention of the Virgin.

CHURCH AND MONASTERY OF SAINT FRANCISCO

In the centre of the city, in the Franciscan district, the Gothic Church of Saint Francisco is a must-see, especially the beautiful cloister. It is a place that inspires peace and serenity, with its blooming roses and cobbled streets.

 

Museums
STADTMUSEUM CIVIC MUSEUM

It is located in the Baroque Palais Khuenburg, the birthplace of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and tells the political, cultural, economic and social story of the city. The urban development of Graz is well documented and worth a visit.

www.stadtmuseum-graz.at

KUNSTHAUS

This unique and futuristic building, designed by architects Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, confirms the idea of Graz as a city of culture, with its many temporary exhibitions of modern artists. The ‘Austria Room’ is particularly interesting as it always houses fascinating photographic exhibitions.

www.museum-joanneum.at/kunsthaus.graz

 
Excursions
FROHNLEITEN
FORRA KESSELFALLKLAMM
 
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