Stylish and cosmopolitan, regal and elegantly adorned, Graz, the capital of the lushly forested state of Styria, was the former city of residence for the Inner Austrian line of the Habsburg dynasty in the 14th century.
Today, it is Austria’s second city and the last resting place of no less than 14 Emperors. It is an urbane place filled with fine architecture, botanical gardens, and sculpture parks. It boasts a plethora of museums dedicated to art, natural history, photography, literature, trams, aviation, folklore, and criminology. It is the most important University town in the country and its contingent of 30000 students infuse the place with energy, youthfulness, and self-assured cultural vitality.
Predictably, the citizens of Graz are always amenable to a good time, especially the partaking of fine food and drink. A designated ‘city of culinary delights’, Graz draws eager crowds for its annual Feast of the Long Tables – a dining ritual that takes place in the city’s evocative old squares and involves hundreds of seated guests.Read more
Graz boasts one of the best preserved Old Towns in Europe – a place of wandering alleyways and ancient stone structures, the entire area a UNESCO World Heritage site and an unbeatable place to stroll. Its 1000 historic buildings blend together in a sumptuous architectural panorama that embraces everything from Gothic to Rococo.
Don’t miss the Landhaus, an important Renaissance palace that features spacious courtyards and arcades (it now serves as the seat of regional government); or the Gothic cathedral with its ancient frescos; or the Rathaus (the Town hall). The Landeszeughaus (provincial armoury) contains a vast collection of weaponry, much of it dating to the time when Graz served as an important defensive post against marauding Ottoman Turks.
Perched on a rocky hill just outside of town, Schlossberg castle is the very symbol of the city and a singularly romantic location with commanding views. Equally important, the Schloss Eggenberg is the most sumptuous palace in the region and the epitome of Baroque grandeur. Its architectural design alludes to the Gregorian calendar with 365 windows corresponding to the number of days in the year. The palace contains an extensive collection of art and its Planet Hall is filled with astronomical symbolism too. The surrounding gardens are home to resplendent peacocks, who wander the grounds with appropriately regal displays of colour.