Graz, Austria, a small city that is home to dozens of museums

June 2016

After an overnight in Dusseldorf, we flew in a prop jet into the small airpport in Graz, Austria.  It’s a tiny airport, and but a 10 minute walk to train station.  Before long we were exiting the system and taking the wrong exit, so we added a kilometer to our walk.  We missed a turn and added a bit more, but then we got to the door.

Graz is 200 km southwest of Vienna, just about an hour by train.  It is the second largest city in Austria and home to six universities with 44,000 students.  The University of Gray is the city’s oldest.  It was founded in 1585 under Archduke Karl II. There are over 30,000 students in it alone.  The entire city is a World Heritage Site (1999).   Slovenia is its nearest neighbor (to the south); Hungary is not far to the east.  Graz is home to just 310,000 residents.

 

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View of the downtown from the funicular that goes to Schlossberg Castle

Graz was settled as far back as 5000 BC, likely for two reasons.  First is the Mur River, which flows swiftly this time of year.  This facilitated transportation and commerce.  Second, there is a large and steep hill just off the river, not 5 minutes from our place, which made for an excellent natural fortification, which has never been breached.

Hitler visited in 1938 and was welcomed and the Jewish community subsequently destroyed. In 2000, on the anniversary of the the Kristalnacht pogroms the city presented the Jewish community with a new synagogue to replace they one destroyed. Some 15% of the city was destroyed by Allied bombing, but the Old Town was largely spared.   Graz surrendered to Soviet troops at the end of WWII.

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The city has dozens of museums.  We bought a pass that allows entrance to 12 of them for 30 euros.  So far we have just visited the Modern Art museum, largely given over to an incomprehensible installation.  However there were some genuine works or art as well.

Riverside Drive, Wilhelm Thöny, Austrian Artist. Graz 1888- 1949

Riverside Drive, Wilhelm Thöny, Austrian Artist. Graz 1888- 1949

We’ve had a few snacks and light meals thus far.  Soup.  It’s June and the people are eating hot soup!  With temperature in the low 20’s c (under 72f) the days are cool and the nights a bit on the chilly side, quite the contrast with Valencia, from where we just came, and where summer temperatures can hit 40C.

 

Here are views of Graz from the top of Schlossberg Castle.

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About Gary Kirkpatrick

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