Graz in the Styria region of southern Austria is a city full of ye olde world charm. It goes way back and became the capital of the Duchy of Styria in 1180. There are plenty of impressive old buildings and structures including cathedrals and castles.
The Clock Tower of Graz, high on the overlooking hill is one of the cities oldest structures with the tower itself first being mentioned in 1265. The Wooden gallery was added in 1560 and the clock works date back to 1712. The 3 bells inside are from 1382, 1450 and 1645! Old indeed! Along with the clock tower, the Graz Cathedral dates back to 1462, and Eggenberg Palace is from 1635 just to name a few.
The true jewel in the crown of Graz to me, is the amazing Styrian Armoury (Landeszeughaus). Imagine 32,000 original pieces of shining armour and weaponry (yes 32,000 pieces!) dating back to the late 15th through to the early 19th century, all stored on four floors of the same building where they have always been. Armour and weaponry is placed in row after row, on the floor, walls, shelves and even hanging from the ceiling. From the armour of foot soldiers to cavalry and knights, it is impressive to say the least!
The 16th century horse armour is alone worth the entry price. One impressive piece of craftsmanship! Can you imagine a group of valiant knights charging down upon you, riding a steed bedecked in such dazzling heavy armour?
Given its strategic position Graz was integral in the defence against invaders from the east such as the Ottoman Turks. From the end of the 15th century the Styrian leaders had to build up their stockpile of weapons and armour. They sought the services of the best armourers and gunsmiths from the Germanic world such as Augsburg, Innsbruck and Nuremberg to build this arsenal.
The armoury was erected in 1642 and fortunately even when no longer required the Styrian’s kept it as a historical tribute to the bravery of their armies and has survived the test of time. So today it is a piece of history like no other and is the oldest original preserved armoury in the world (it is rich in wood and this is a bonus as it absorbs moisture and this along with the excellent skills of the curators helps to keep all that armour rust free).
The Styrian Armoury is stunning and not to be missed if visiting Graz! Please note, unlike most museums in central Europe it is closed on Tuesdays, not Mondays.