For food, history and culture, you can’t beat the Austrian cities of Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg. In our video Matt meets ‘slow food’ pioneer Andi in Graz, who takes him shopping; in Salzburg he soaks up some culture at a classical concert; and in Innsbruck a local guide walks him through the ancient streets.
Here is Matt Carroll’s Hidden Treasures: Episode 2 – Graz, Innsbruck, Salzburg
That is our view, but to get an objective / non-Austrian view we also asked Andy Jarosz – www.501places.com - to visit the cities for us. Here are some of is highlights in Graz.
“I didn’t know what to expect from Graz. Although it is Austria’s second city in terms of size, it is very much overshadowed in terms of tourism by both Vienna and Salzburg, not to mention the winter sports resorts to the west of the country. Yet in a little under 24 hours in this pleasant city I found plenty to attract a visitor to Graz, the 900 year old capital of the southern province of Styria. Here are just a few of my highlights of a city that is blessed with many sites of historical interest.
High on the hill overlooking Graz is Schlossberg, the city’s dominant fortress. Its clock tower is visible from almost anywhere in Graz, while the collection of buildings and monuments tell a story of the battles fought and the many heroic defences of this strategically important part of Europe. One of the highlights of the Schlossberg is a look inside the Kasematten, once a building that housed hundreds of prisoners within its walls and now a large concert venue.
You can reach the Schlossberg in three ways: using the funicular railway, by means of a spectacular glass lift that ascends through a gaping hole in the rock, or on foot via the 260 steps that wind their way up the hill.
I’m not normally a fan of visiting armouries and seeing a collection of suits of armour and rifles, but this one is quite different. Rather than having one example of a particular weapon or piece of armour here they have displayed every artefact that has been found. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of pikes, daggers, guns, armour plates. It looks more like a warehouse than a museum and there is enough material here to fully equip a re-enactment of a major battle.
The museum of modern art is full of the quirky and weird exhibits that you would expect, but the real star of the show is the building itself. Something akin to a lumpy blue submarine, this bold structure comes to life at night when the LEDs on its surface create a mesmerising pulsing effect.
An eye-catching sight whichever way you look at it, this artificial island on the river was created as part of the city’s celebration of being the European Capital of Culture 2003 and has never been removed. Now home to a pleasant café Murinsel is likely to remain a permanent fixture on the river Mur. It looks most striking at night when it is bathed in blue light.
It is not uncommon to find an animated clock in Austria and the one in Graz is indeed a fine specimen. With the first performance of the day at a very civilised 11am and a fine café directly underneath, it is the perfect excuse to sit back with a slice of cake and a coffee and watch the 5 minute show.
Double spiral staircase
A description can’t really do this justice, but it is well worth a look to see this masterpiece of Gothic architecture. It is also probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever found to photograph.
A 40 minute walk, or 10 minute tram ride out of the city is Eggenberg Castle, a grand 17th century palace commissioned by Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg. The house is built around the concept of the universe: four towers representing the seasons, 12 gates for the months and 365 windows for the days of the year. The grounds are very attractive and if you arrive early in the morning the only noises to break the silence are the cries of the preening peacocks within the park.
More on Andy’s experience in Austria you will find here.
, Food & Wine
, Hidden Treasures