Schlossberg Hill and the historic Uhrturm Clock Tower
Graz is one of the cities in Austria that reflects the history of the Middle Ages as it is today. One of the must-do activities in the old town of Graz is to climb the Schlossberg, which can be seen from every part of the city, and look at the historical monuments of Graz from the top.
The best place to enjoy the view of Graz is the hill where Schlossberg is located. A castle was built on this hill in the center of the city about 1000 years ago. Schlossberg means castle hill. This castle was so difficult to cross that Napoleon could not get past it. The name of the castle was even written in the book of records because it has never been defeated in its history. After the victory over the Habsburgs in 1809 with the Treaty of Schönbrunn, Napoleon’s forces destroyed the castle.
The people of Graz loved the clock tower so much that money was raised for the clock tower and bell tower, and Napoleon was persuaded and these two buildings were saved. Gradec, which means Little Castle in Slavic, was changed to Graz and gave its name to the historical city. Let’s visit these structures built on the rock mass one by one. But first we need to reach the summit.
You have various options for going up and down the hill. We went up by elevator and down by funicular. You can also do the opposite. In addition, you can climb 260 steps to the top of the hill, which is 120 meters high, and if you want, you can also descend the hill on foot. To get to the elevator, you must first reach the Schlossbergplatz square and then continue towards the Schlossberglift sign. The steps to go up are also in this direction. But since we will use the elevator, we enter through the hole carved into the rock and proceed to the end. Tickets can be bought from ticket machines. If you don’t want to deal with the machines, you can easily buy them from the box office inside. Unfortunately, the tickets you buy for public transportation are not valid here. The elevator up Schlossberg Hill costs 1,40€. There is an elevator at the end of the hole carved into the rock, and when you get on it and go up in 1 minute, the whole of Graz is at your feet.
When you go up, you first see a clock tower. This 28 meter high clock tower can be seen from many places in the lower part of the city. Dating from the 13th century, if you pay attention to the clock tower, you may notice that the hour hand is longer than the minute hand. Below the clock tower is a rose garden that will add different colors to your view.
When we walk to the other side of the hill, we first come across a gazebo at a high point. This is a wooden area from which you can view the city from a little higher up. Then we see the 34-meter high octagonal bell tower, restaurants, water cisterns and the auditorium, which has been restored and is now used for open-air events such as concerts.
During the Second World War, Schlossberg was not only a military headquarters but also a place where shelters were built to shelter up to 40,000 people in case of air raids. There is also a 6-kilometer tunnel system to save the civilian population of Graz from aerial bombers.
We prefer the funicular to get down from Schlossberg. The Schlossbergbahn, the funicular system, is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get between the city center and Schlossberg. Previously, the funicular was not here and there was another system for transporting supplies and building materials to the castle. After Schlossberg became a park, they started looking for an alternative way to get there and opened the first funicular line in 1894. In the 1960s they modernized the system and put the old trams on display in the Graz Tram Museum and the Vienna Technical Museum. There are up and down trips every 15 minutes, one way costs 1,40€.