Graz & Styria (Steiermark) Sightseeing & Travel Guide
If you want to explore rural Styria, I suggest combining excursions into the hills and vineyards with a bit of history and visits to one of the province′s seven spas. If you want to do proper sightseeing, stop by the small market towns of Murau, Judenburg, Eisenerz and Leoben for a walk and then move on to Graz. The capital of Styria and is located on the Southern outskirts of the Alps, a very pleasant landscape of smaller hills (similar to Salzburg).
This allowed the early counts of Styria and later the Dukes of Austria to build a castle quite easily defended on the Schlossberg (meaning: Castle Mountain). Thereby, Graz had a key position for controlling the Austrian lands South of the Alps - towards "sensitive" areas like the Turkish Empire or the Balkan. Graz was also heavily involved in religious struggles during the days of the counter-reformation.
Top-10: Best Attractions of Styria (Steiermark)
1.) Graz Old Town, Uhrturm & Schlossberg
2.) Eggenberg Palace, Renaissance building near Graz
3.) Leoben, Eisenerz, Göss & Mount Erzberg
4.) Bad Aussee, Altaussee, Inner Salzkammergut (Ausseerland)
5.) Schladming & Mount Dachstein: Glaciers, Caves, Scenery
6.) Basilica Mariazell & surroundings
7.) Spas, vineyards & hills: Steirisches Thermenland
8.) Seckau Abbey, Admont Abbey & Library
9.) Hiking in National Park Gesäuse
10.) Bad Radkersburg & Leibnitz, "Road of Castles"
Uhrturm, Monasteries & More to See in Graz
When the Habsburgs concentrated their fight against protestants around 1600, the formally widely protestant Graz became a centre of their interest. This led to the erection of several impressive, Catholic buildings: a University was founded, a Catholic mausoleum built and the Minoritenkirche Church was meant to show the dominance of Catholic believe. Graz went back to Catholicism (like the rest of Austria), and was altered once again in Baroque times (again, like the rest of Austria).
You will easily spot the "Uhrturm" (clocktower) on the Schlossberg from 1712. This spot offers great views on Graz and allows you to anticipate the large number of people living in the second-biggest city of Graz (around 230,000). Schloss Eggenberg Castle is a local gem of secular baroque architecture. Other significant buildings are the Landhaus and the Zeughaus fortress with Europe′s most extensive collection of early modern (mostly 16th century) armour.
See some of the things to see in this preview, brought to you by YouTube users: Impressions from Styria's captial Graz.
Similar to Vienna and Salzburg, the Imperial Austria left a very visible mark with active building: The "New University" (Karl-Franzens-University), the Rathaus city hall and the opera house were built. Most recently, an art centre was built and an ultra-modern synagogue. Graz, by the way, is also where Arnold Schwarzenegger spent a fair part of his youth. For suggestions for excursions into the surroundings of Graz, please see my list of day-trips from Graz.
Other Things to See in Styria
Styria also has seven thermal spas, the National Park Gesäuse, beautiful wine lands and shares some castles of the "Road of Castles" with the Burgenland. There are several monasteries worth a visit, most importantly Stift Admont. Bad Radkersburg, Leibnitz, Weiz, Fürstenfeld and Ehrenhausen are real outposts of the province. In the village of Piber, the stud of the Spanish Riding School can be found and architecture by Friendsreich Hundertwasser in Bärnbach and the spa in Blumau near Feldbach.
The church of pilgrimage in Mariazell can be busy on summer weekends. Other significant villages and towns include Hartberg, Bruck an der Mur, Deutschlandsberg, Voitsberg, Knittelfeld, Oberzeiring and Oberwölz. Styria also has a share of the Salzkammergut, but this region (including Bad Aussee and Altaussee) will be covered in a seperate article. Liezen might make a good base for day-trips to the Salzkammergut, which is the best area for hiking, for example around Schladming. In terms of holiday regions, note the following articles: Steirisches Thermenland (Styrian Spa Region), Oststeirisches Hügelland, Ausseerland (Steirisches Salzkammergut), Murtal.
For further Styrian towns and villages, see my list of communities in Styria and my Graz Webcams, as well as my article on festivals and events in Styria. Note also my advice for "Styria with Children".
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