via Kapil Juvale Photography
Located in the southeast of Austria on the Mur River, Graz is the country’s second largest city. However, it is the largest city in the state of Styria, where it is also the capital. Graz is commonly known as a student city. Out of a population of about 303,731, well over 40,000 are students that are spread out among its six universities.
A city called Old Town is recognized as the heart and soul of Graz. It is located near the city mountain and has still-standing fortifications that can be dated back to medieval times as well as alleyways and building facades of the same time period. In addition to its historic beauty, Old Town also has modern architecture, allowing it to boast the benefits of having both old and new charm. It is always buzzing with activity and in 1999, it was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO experts — meaning that Old Town was worthy of protecting for the ages.
Graz itself was recognized as the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2003 and also was honored with the title of a City of Culinary Delights in 2008. And we all know that a city that can be recognized for great food is a city worth visiting. More recently, in 2011, Graz was again an interest of UNESCO. They named the city one of their “Cities of Design,” something that is not necessarily surprising considering its extraordinary architecture and charming history.
If you’re looking for a place that not only has a story to tell, but a promising future ahead, look no further than Graz, Austria. The city continues to grow with striking modernity as new sites are constructed each year, like the “Murinsel,” which is an island in the Mur River that is made entirely of steel. And — shout out to America — American architect Vito Acconci designed the island and added a cafe, open-air theater, and a playground for visitors to enjoy.