Saturday 8 December 2012

Graz Old Town Running Route

Click here for route map
Length up to 4 km (2.5 miles), terrain contains one steep hill of 100 meters (can be avoided)

Note: these pictures were taken on a few frosty December mornings. I hope to one day run it in summer weather!

Graz Routes List:
Leechwald half-marathon hill trail  
Graz old-town loop 

For more running routes, see the Route List

If you're staying in or near the old town in Graz (and if you're in Graz, make sure you do!), here's a great route to take. It's short, but takes on the steep climb up to the top of the castle hill. But if you don't feel like doing the hill-climb, you can easily just circle around it.
Florist in the Graz old town
What better way to take in some of the most interesting spots in this UNESCO World Heritage Site than to include them in your morning/evening run?

We'll start the route on the south side of the old town, at Kaiser-Josef-Platz, across from the opera. This little market square hosts an old-fashioned farmers' market every morning, and is also located across from the south end of the Stadtpark.
The farmers' market in front of the opera
So, looking at the imposing classical facade of the opera-house, cross Glacisstra├če and run into the Stadtpark towards the right side. Stadtpark was created from the old city fortifications that zig-zagged their way around the old town, heading northeast, then north. You can either run in the wider park area along the eastern edge or run directly along the top of the raised dike that is still left over from the old ramparts.
In Stadtpark, along the dike
You will cross two streets that bisect the park, and continue running northwards. The old arch-duke's palace is behind the ramparts to the left.
Stadtpark, the palace ramparts
Follow the dike as it curves towards the left (westwards), as it heads directly towards the castle hill.

You'll come to some tennis courts, and another street heading towards an old city gate to your left.

You could just run straight past the sign that maps the trails up to the hilltop and run through the woods right to the top.
The Paulustor (St. Paul's Gate)
But I like seeing a bit more of the old town, so let's turn left and run through the city gate, heading south on Paulustorgasse.

NOTE: If you don't want to run up the hill, just continue running westwards along Wickenburggasse, with the hill to your left. Just keep the hill directly to your left side. You will come to a tram line right at the Mur River. Now follow Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Kai southwards, still keeping the hill to your left. You will rejoin the route at Schlossbergplatz.

In the old town, you'll pass some museums and the police headquarters occupying some old barracks. When you come to an open plaza on the left (Karmeliterplatz) with a column topped by Maria, turn right to go through the arched gateway through the house on the right side.
Heading up the castle hill
You are now running uphill, following a street that curves to the right. At the first footpath on the left, follow it as it zig-zags up to the hilltop 100 meters higher.

You come into the castle area at the clock-tower, with its wooden walkways. There are some great viewpoints there towards the south, over the whole old-town.
The castle clock tower
Continue running uphill past what is left of the main castle buildings. Almost everything was torn down after Napoleon conquered Austria 200 years ago, but a few small buildings remain.

At the very top, you'll pass the round, white bell-tower and come to a terraced park, with great views to the west.
The castle
Now turn around and run back down to the clock-tower and take the stairs that go down the west side of the hill, along the steep cliffs.
View from the castle hill
You'll come down to Schlossbergplatz, where you turn left and run southwards down Sackgasse, following the tram tracks.

In 200 meters, you'll come to a triangular plaza, Hauptplatz, with the domed town hall standing behind it. This is one of the main tram stations in town. If you continued straight, you'd run down the main shopping street, Herrengasse.
Hauptplatz facades: turn left here on Sporgasse!
But we'll turn left right at the beginning of the plaza, on Sporgasse, then turn right on F├Ąrbergasse to run southeastwards through the heart of the old town. There are a lot of little courtyards going off to each side, each fascinating to go exploring some time.

You'll pass the bishop's square, then the house with a Glockenspiel (figures that appear at certain times while bells chime).
The old royal bakery in the old town
When the street ends at another small square, turn left down Einspinnergasse to the first cross-street, where you turn right and run down Burggasse the last two blocks between the opera and Stadtpark to Kaiser-Josef-Platz again.

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