Old Graz – Austria
A Well-Armed, and Well-Preserved Old Town
Graz, the southeastern seat of the Hapsburgs as early as 1379, features one of Central Europe’s best-preserved Altstadte (old towns). Just look around Graz and you’ll see the ubiquitous motto “Austria rules the world” (A.E.I.O.U., or Austria est imprerare orbu uni-verso) left behind by Friedrich III, King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor, who resided here.
The city boasts the empire’s (and Europe’s) largest armory: more than 30,000 pieces of every imaginable kind of armor and equipment used for war and jousting fill four floors of the 17th-century Landeszeughaus Armor)’. The town’s draw may be its magnificent architecture from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but the tone of Graz today is young and upbeat, thanks to three prominent universities (one offering the only faculty of jazz in all of Europe), the oldest founded in the 16th century.
From spring until fall, a number of prestigious fairs and music festivals enliven the flagstone streets and squares, while students keep the atmospheric beer cellars, bars, and publike beisls buzzing. As capital of the agriculturally rich region of Styria, one of Graz’s most enticing day trips is a meander out along any of the eight “wine roads” south of the city.