By Becki Enright (Borders of Adventure) as part of her #YearInAustria
In Graz the artistic modern blends with the traditional and Mediterranean, with the River Mur cutting the old and new in two. The second largest city in Austria is all about being cool, displaying 900 years of history and trendy art hubs and neighbourhoods that got it added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites list alongside being a European Capital of Culture in 2003.
The Historical Centre is compact and easy to navigate, with mural painted townhouses, Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque architecture romantic courtyards, and winding streets. Highlights include the former Habsburg bakery – the Hofbäckerei - whose wooden façade topped with a double-gilded eagle retains the same bygone decadence and sweet offerings, the double spiral staircase at the entrance to the Burg and the magnificent Cathedral and Mausoleum commission by Kaiser Ferdinand II in Italian style.
Herrengasse is the main thoroughfare where modern stores, eateries and bars mix with palaces and preserved historical buildings. The most artistic contemporary landmark is Kunsthaus, whose bulbous blue design looks like otherworldly giving it the local nickname, “The Friendly Alien”. Behind it, the trendiest neighbourhood of Lend awaits you for a contemporary immersion into Graz.