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March 31, 2019

Austria: Graz


Pedestrianized central Graz

In retrospect I knew surprising little about Graz Austria before we decided to visit in October of 2018. I didn’t know that the commune is Austria’s second largest city. Before we planned to visit I did not know of the existence of Schloss Eggenberg, a Baroque palace located on Graz’s perimeter. Nor did I know that Graz was the capitol of Styria. In fact I didn’t know of the existence of Styria at all, though I probably should have. As always, travel is a great teacher.

I must admit that there’s a growing tendency to wait until we get to a place to learn about it. Admittedly it’s a lazy habit, but it is easier to learn about places when you visit. History connects better when you see a region’s famous sights.

The first time a recall hearing of Graz was watching a TV segment on Graz’s Kunsthaus, the bulbous modern art museum that was incongruously built among the city’s red-tile roofed buildings. Seeing the Kunsthaus was certainly a worthy reason to see Graz; it’s like going to Bilbao to see the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Museum. But in both cities, there are more things to see and learn other than modern art museums.

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Past its history and art, we found Graz to be a very likable and comfortable place to stay. With a fast flowing river and a castle on hill the city is reminiscent of Salzburg with one significant advantage: Graz is a larger city and the tourist density seems lower. It appears to us visitors to Austria head to Salzburg and Vienna and not as much to Graz. And that’s a good thing, for those who head to Graz.

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Graz was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites in 1999. The listing was extended in 2010 to include Schloss Eggenberg along with a thin corridor of the land that connects the castle to the old town.

UNESCO’s inscription for the “City of Graz – Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg” reads as follows:

“The City of Graz – Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg bear witness to an exemplary model of the living heritage of a central European urban complex influenced by the secular presence of the Habsburgs and the cultural and artistic role played by the main aristocratic families. They are a harmonious blend of the architectural styles and artistic movements that have succeeded each other from the Middle Ages until the 18th century, from the many neighbouring regions of Central and Mediterranean Europe. They embody a diversified and highly comprehensive ensemble of architectural, decorative and landscape examples of these interchanges of influence.”

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Besides Schloss Eggenberg, the Eggenberg family also owned another large castle in Český Krumlov, which we coincidentally visited earlier in our trip.

 

We visited Graz in October of 2018.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] a Roman military fort. This area was part of the Styria region whose historic capitol is Graz, our last stop. As part of Styria this portion of Slovenia was part of the powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire until […]

    Pingback by Slovenia: Ptuj | Another Header — April 5, 2019 @ 7:15 am


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