YAY FOR POST #200!!!
Yesterday afternoon I was let out of orchestra rehearsal early and--despite the possible threat of rain--decided to spend a little time exploring the Leechwald. This large forest park is snaked with little trails and, given the time and energy, one can wander within it for miles...or kilometers if you're counting along with the austrian trail markers. The cool air and overcast skies actually made for an ideal walking situation and I ambled along enjoying the sounds of the woods, the lovely views, and...well...a few other interesting sights...
Yes, that is indeed a pair of mating weevles. Pretty freaky looking, Eh? What can I say...there's never a dull moment if you take the time to look.
***(I actually took the above pic a few days ago in the Leechwald, but today's post provided my first decent opportunity to share such a...choice...photo.)
After about 4 kilometers the path I was following crossed the street that runs past the Mariatrost Basilica--which I'd heard of, but had never seen--and I decided to leave the rest of the trail for another day and head down the road to check out the church...and I am very glad I did!
I apologize for the dearth of specific information I'm able to provide here--almost everything I found about Mariatrost's history and significance was written auf Deutsch and would've taken me hours to plug into google translate. Still, simply walking beneath its enormous doors to view the spectacularly decorated interior was enough to leave me in awe.
I don't think there was a single square inch left unadorned--it was stunning.
To the left of the Apse was a small display room containing artifacts that had been used in the Basilica over the years, as well as various print and artistic media depicting this incredible structure through the ages. The earliest illustration I found was a painted card dating to 1722 that shows pilgrims ascending slowly up a hill to their long-awaited destination...
...and a lovely engraving of the church in a slightly tattered book printed in 1816.
For a couple of minutes I was the only person inside the Basilica, and was relieved to be able to take in the church's loveliness in simple reverent stillness. The great thing about a place like Graz is that it's just ever-so-slightly off the beaten path and therefore remains relatively free from the griping grappling madness of the tourist hoards. As a tourist myself, I guess I have to acknowledge the hypocrisy of this sentiment, but to be honest, I don't really care. I'm just glad to find a modicum peace where and when I can.