travel guide

The Provincial capital of Styria

As well as being the provincial capital of Styria, Graz is the second largest city of Austria.  Graz was for centuries an impregnable fortress against repeated attacks from the East. In the 15th century it became the Imperial capital and the residence of the Emperor Frederic III, and a centre of culture. It stills retains an old-world charm, and is notable for its arcaded buildings with their painted facades, for its gardens and parks, for the clock tower that dominates the town from the Schlossberg (Castle Hill), for drama and concerts and for good shops and important museums. Among these last is the Universalmuseum Joanneum which is thought to be the biggest of its kind in Central Europe. It comprises a group of museums which together have a collection of around 4.9 million items devoted to natural history collections, coins, and works of art – which include  paintings by Jan and Pieter Brueghel.

The Volkskundemuseum has ancient Styrian costume, craftwork, and farm and household equipment. The Landeszeughaus, which is an outstanding museum of arms and armour, is inside the Landhaus, a building with a fine cloistered courtyard, and only a short walk from the 15th-century Gothic cathedral. 

The geography of Graz is varied. Lying to the southeast of Austria – look eastwards an you find the Hungarian plains, to the south are the  vineclad slopes and the mountains of Slovenia, towards the north-west is the Alpine range which shelters Graz from cold aircurrents. Equally fine views can be seen from the top of the Schockel cable-car, the lower terminal being at St Radegund, a pleasant resort not far from the city.
Graz has a surprising variety of entertainment, including tennis, riding, gliding, and several swimming-baths. The excellence and scope of wintersports facilities in the neighbourhood are equally surprising, and there are attractive, inexpensive hotels at Deutschlandsberg, Trahiitten, and elsewhere in the Koralpc and adjoining ranges. Styrians, like all Austrians, love bathing and, where there are no lakes,you can find swimming-pools in most towns and resorts.

The country south of Graz is richly agricultural and is noted for its wines. Among the hills in the east is Bad Gleichenberg, a noted spa, and the massive, square Castle of Riegersburg, perched on a high rock.

Between Graz and Bruck-an-der Mur, 35 miles northwards, are the vast, illuminated Lurgotte Caves, the Rabenstein Castle, and (near Mixnitz) the Barenschutzklamm Gorge with its impressive waterfalls. Tucked away in the mountains some 37 m. north of Bruck, is Mariazell, a winter-sports and summer resort with two picturesque lakes nearby and a cable-car up to the top of Burgeralpe. It is also an important pilgrimage centre famous for its torchlight processions.
Nearly 50 m. to the west and just south of the Hieflau road junction, is Leopoldsteincrsee, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. In marked contrast, a few miles further on, is the famous Erzberg, a mountain of solid iron ore that feeds the nearby iron and steel industry.
The road West from Hieflau passes through the impressive Gesause Gorge, where the River Enns rushes between high mountains to Admont, another winter and summer resort, specially celebrated for its abbey library. Further on still, in the north-west corner of Styria, is the large spa of Bad Aussee. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the glistening Dachstein Glacier, with three nearby lakes (Altausseersee, Grundlsee, and tiny Toplitzsee), it is popular for winter sports and makes a very pleasant summer holiday centre.