Another two hours away from Maribor is Austrian’s second largest city – GRAZ!
I didn’t know how famous and pretty Graz was until I reached there. The moment I stepped into Graz, I could tell this was a bustling city full of young people. I found myself immediately surrounded by people, people, and people! But it wasn’t overwhelming; the bustling was just enough to feel that the city was alive. It was exciting. I also hit the city at a good time. By the time I arrived at Graz, it was 18:00 (6:00pm),which was the perfect timing to see the city changing into dinner/night life!
It was a nice change for me that day. Especially after seeing the smaller cities and communities in Slovenia, Graz and Austria felt like a bigger city. It’s funny how much one’s perspective is influenced by where one is coming from. When other people visit Vienna from London or Paris, they think Vienna is small. But if you are coming from Slovenia or Slovakia, you will think Vienna is big, and Graz too!
Within Austria, Graz is one of the cities many people recommend, especially if one is into art and architecture. It is Austria’s second largest city after Vienna and is the capital of the federal state of Styria. In 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, and the site was extended tin 2010 by Schloss Eggenberg. Graz was sole Cultural Capital of Europe for 2003 and got the title of a City of Culinary Delights in 2008. Historically, because Graz is so close from Slovenia the two have a strong relationship historically and culturally.
Yes, well that all sounded amazing but I wasn’t sure how different that could be from Vienna, Austria. I have seen some pictures of unique areas, but I didn’t expect myself to be saying “wow” to every parts of the city. But walking into the city center five minutes later, I realized my assumptions were wrong and there was a good reason why UNESCO acknowledged this place as a cultural and unique city.
During my short visit, I spotted two highlights, which I suggest others who make a visit here in the future to check out.
1. Unique and artsy architecture: Literally every single building that I walk into is unique and beautiful. It’s either a different design, a different color, a different window, a different pattern, or something that makes each building stand out as its own. Every street also seems to feel different. I tried to capture some of the small alleys with my camera, so I hop you can get some sense. In fact, because each building was so unique, I wonder if there is a law by chance that prohibits people from building the same building. (I heard certain area of Shanghai had a law prohibited from building the same building design in hope to encourage many different building designs.) I tried to capture these beautiful views, but even these photos can not be compared to the feeling you will feel when you walk these streets in person. It’s like walking into an endless art box full of new art and discovery at each corner you turn around.
In addition, these photos are only from the main city center area. I wonder how many more interesting buildings there will be out there in other part of the city in Graz. Here are some photos of Graz’s unique buildings.
In fact, I even found this funny church full of phrases to criticize Christianity and religion. How contradictory is that? I wonder what this building actually is used for. It looks like a church…but..I highly doubt it. Perhaps someone can confirm what this means?
2. Go up the clock tower to see the amazing city view of Graz! Since I arrived at the time most shops and museums were closing, I decided to do what I could do for free – a city view on top of the hill where the Schlossberg was! The Clock tower (Uhrturm) located at the top of this hill with the castle is a famous symbol of Graz. As noted earlier, this has also been called a UNESCO Cultural Site. It is also famous because this is the castle that was never occupied until its partial demolition by Napoleonic forces under the Peace of Schonbrunn of 1809, and was once a place of refuge for Graz’s residents. It was turned into a public park on account of Ludwig von Welden in 1839. One can either walk up, like myself, or take a life up.
Though I was tired after seeing two cities earlier, I wanted to walk up to get a sense of how high it was. From the point where I started, one would see the city view changing constantly because the walk up the city was a zig-zag. The zig-zag stairway may seem long, but it is so rewarding when you are able to see a city view like this…!!!
Aha, so did you realize what is unique in Graz’s city view? Yes, you notice this huge strange building. This is the Kunsthaus Graz, the Graz Art Museum that was built as part of the European Capital of Culture celebration in 2003. Since then, it has become an architectural landmark in Graz and has exhibited many special contemporary art exhibitions. Pretty cool, right?
As you continue walking up the stairs, the view becomes better and better..and by the time you reach the top, this is what you are rewarded with..!!
I had a long day, so I decided to reward myself by trying some artsy pictures of myself near cliff. Did it work? You tell me!
It was too short. But I was glad to have made all three visits. I was lucky the train schedule worked out, and had great weather. I hope others who travel here also get to take advantage of these cities location from one another.
What can I say, my trip #7 was a success.
#7: Midnight in Salzburg, Good Morning in Ljubljana, Good afternoon in Maribor, and Good Evening at Graz. (And perhaps Good Night at Vienna, Austria.)
(Check out my next trip to Switzerland and Strasbourg in France!)