Graz’s recognition on the World Heritage list is primarily due to the treasure trove of its architecture in the historic center. It is literally one of those towns whose streets you want to explore over and over again.
I started my acquaintance with the town at Schloss Eggenberg, located some distance from the center but included in the World Heritage property.
The Baroque Palace in its completed form dates from the mid-18th century. In the winter season, its interior spaces are closed to the visitors, but a nominal fee allows access to the gardens and the courtyard with its galleries.
At least two dozen peacocks reside on the grounds of the palace.
Moving on to the city center, here are the houses on Hauptplatz, the main town square.
The dominating feature of Hauptplatz is the Town Hall, seen here with a fragment of Archduke Johann fountain.
Herengasse, the main central street, is off limits to the motorized traffic, but the regularly passing trams are a hazard for any tourist who is not habitually used to such an arrangement.
An incredible house on Herengasse.
Its official name is Herzogshof, onetime residence of Dukes of Styria. But it is colloquially known as Gemaltes Haus (the Painted House).
It should be noted that on this trip I started using a super-wide-angle lens for some shots and the above is a good example of getting a large building into a reasonable shot at 10mm focal distance. The narrow spaces of historic streets that I like to roam normally do not allow for enough room to include sizable landmarks and leave buffers for distortion correction. The super-wide lens makes a big difference here.
Of course, Herengasse is a relatively wide street – I stood flush with the opposing building for the picture above. On a side street, 3-4 meters wide, even the widest lens cannot do more than take an angled perspective.
Or perspective distortion cannot be completely corrected. This is Graz Cathedral. Its too massive and tall for the maximum distance from across the street that I could gain.
Nonetheless, I love the ability to take pictures like this. My universal go-to lens at its widest 18mm would never allow me to come away with a passable picture in these circumstances.
Next to Graz cathedral sits a very colorful St. Catherine’s Church and Mausoleum, the resting place of some of the Hapsburg emperors (most others are in Kaisergruft in Vienna).
A couple of interior shots of the cathedral.
Uhrturm, at the edge of the public park on Castle Hill, keeps watch over city.
The most observant of viewers may notice the quirk for which the tower is well-known – its clock hands play opposite roles to what we normally expect from the bigger and the smaller hand. The time here is roughly quarter to 4 in the afternoon, not 8:20.
The elevated viewpoints by the tower offer expansive perspectives over the city. Here is the view in Town Hall direction.
And a close-up.
A view west, towards sunset.
The unusual modern building in the center of that shot is Kunsthaus, the main art museum in Graz. Here is a closer view.
Schlossbergplatz at the foot of the hill.
And an opposite perspective from Schlossbergplatz. The previous picture was taken from one of the landings on the hillside stairway.
The stairway is a brilliant extension of the park. There are benches tucked to the sides of most of the upper landings. Pretty romantic setting to watch the sunset. Even on a cold December afternoon there were a few couples doing just that.
Hauptplatz and the Town Hall at dusk.
And Herengasse again as well.
The fast train from Vienna to Graz takes two and a half hours, at the upper boundary of acceptable time for a day-trip. An intraday visit is enough if you do not include any museums in your itinerary, but there are enough points of interest to warrant an overnight stay in Graz.
These and other pictures of Graz can be found in my Flickr gallery.