Student and cultural capital, entirely without Mozart
Many Austrians move to Graz during their university years, because it has a little bit of everything: Austria's second-largest city is urban enough to maintain a lively party, music, and arts scene and yet so provincial, green, and manageable that it doesn't overwhelm individual tourists. Students and young academics from the universities and music academies flood the galleries, bars, and cultural centers and prevent the beautiful alleyways and squares from becoming a quaint open-air museum. The 2003 gig as "Europe's cultural capital" has left its mark in the form of the Graz Art Center, an exhibition hall in the shape of a huge bubble. However, with its exhibitions, concerts, and "Forum Stadtpark" readings as well as the annual "Steirischer Herbst" festival, Graz has long been a center of contemporary art. Most sites and event venues lie in the historic city center (a UNESCO World Heritage site), over which towers the Schlossberg Mountain and its striking watchtower. The city center is best explored on foot, but the good streetcar system provides connections to the train station and the other city neighborhoods.