Archives for July 22, 2015
The folk dancers in Graz’s Glockenspiel twirl dizzily 3 times a day – 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. There’s a lady in Styrian garb clutching a handkerchief and a bearded man in lederhosen raising a glass of wine. Above them, in the iron turret, 24 bells ring out Alpine yodels, Christmas carols, and contemporary tunes.
The detail of the wine glass is important, since the Glockenspiel owes its existence to Gottfried Maurer, the canny owner of the wine & spirits shop below. In 1929, Maurer gifted the Glockenspiel to the city, on the condition that it always play.
It didn’t – in World War Two, the bells were used for ammunition. Happily for campanologists (and the tourism bureau), the Glockenspiel was resurrected in 1956. Today, at the end of the dance, a golden cock crows the revelers in Graz’s Bermuda Triangle to bed.
The best way to find the Glockenspielplatz is to look for a bunch of befuddled tourists staring up into the air. They are waiting for the Glockenspiel to chime.
While you’re standing there, why not admire the Art Nouveau facade below the tower? Gottfried Maurer was a savvy wine & spirits entrepreneur who often traveled through the wilds of Europe. Entranced by carillons in Germany and Belgium, he decided to put one at the top of his house in Graz. It first rang out in 1905.
Of course, it did no harm to his business that the male dancer in the Glockenspiel is toasting observers. With Maurer’s wine shop, the new carillon, and a series of mosaics and reliefs showing happy inebriates, the Glockenspielplatz became a place of forgetful pleasure. Today, it’s part of the Bermuda Triangle of Graz.