Old Town of Graz (World Heritage)

The urban development of Graz is closely linked to the Habsburgs. Today Graz has one of the largest preserved medieval city centers in the German-speaking area and impresses with buildings from different epochs. The most famous buildings include the Franciscan Church, the Palais Thienfeld and the clock tower from 1570, the symbol of the city. In 2010 the World Heritage was expanded to include Eggenberg Palace, which was built at the transition from the late Renaissance to the Baroque.

Old town of Graz: facts

Official title: Old town of Graz and Eggenberg Palace
Cultural monument: Old town of the metropolis of Styria, including with the cathedral, the mausoleum of Ferdinand II, with the canon court, the former Pöllauer Stiftshof, the Reinerhof (1164), the Weißchen Haus and the Palais Attems as well as the early baroque Eggenberg Palace from the 17th century (new in 2010)
Continent: Europe
Country: Austria
Location: Graz
Appointment: 1999, extension 2010
Meaning: a “hub” for art and architecture in the German-speaking area, the Balkans and the Mediterranean region

Old town of Graz: history

1379 Residence of Leopold III. of Habsburg
1438-1462 Construction of today’s late Gothic cathedral
1480 and 1497 Turkish army at the gates of the city
1544-1625 Construction of extensive fortifications
1564-1749 under Archduke Karl II and his successors Graz as the capital of Inner Austria (Duchies of Styria, Carniola, Carinthia and the County of Gorizia)
1588 Construction of the bell tower
1619 Ferdinand II’s court moves to Vienna
1784 Removal of the city fortifications
1888-1893 Construction of the town hall in the style of historicism
1931 Exposure of the original painting of the Gothic vaults of the cathedral
2010 Expansion of the World Heritage district to include Eggenberg Castle, which is located outside the old town
2011 As a UNESCO City of Design, Graz is part of the Creative Cities Network

A secret love…

or a long time Graz was in the shadow of cosmopolitan Vienna and picturesque Salzburg. In relation to other cities, however, Graz is like a good book discovered by chance that was never on the bestseller lists, a mega-seller – or a sophisticated Truffaut film is a Hollywood blockbuster. In fact, Graz doesn’t even need to be compared. According to cheeroutdoor, Austria’s second largest city quite rightly deserves the recognition it has received from all sides.

Graz has the “largest preserved medieval city center in the German-speaking region”, but that does not say anything about what really defines the Styrian metropolis. Although the historic old town has recently earned it a lot of laurels, reducing the city to its architecture would mean overlooking the essential: the unmistakable mix of provincial and avant-garde, of popular and trendy, of bourgeois and bohemian. The flair of the city has a lot to do with the Cinderella existence mentioned at the beginning: Away from world events, embedded in Styria, whose pulse is not yet too hectic, Graz was able to develop free of constraints. That was the fertile soil for the thriving subculture that we are so proud of here. In addition, every fifth resident of Graz is a student, which explains the enormous number of trendy hangouts and pubs, wine taverns and chic bars. The down-to-earth element also exists in harmony and equality: where else do you see old market women who sell herbs, colorful meadow flowers and homemade donuts to hip townspeople every Saturday?

There is always something going on in Graz, be it the “great culture”, the highlights of which are the music festival “styriarte” and the “Styrian autumn” in the annual cycle, or the lively cabaret that is part of the storytelling festival, the street and puppet festival “La Strada” or takes place in the streets every year during the cultural summer. The theater and opera, countless independent theaters, museums and galleries are the bearers of the lively cultural life outside of broad-based festivities. Incidentally, Graz was the first city in Austria whose university set up its own jazz faculty. In 2003 it was also the European Capital of Culture.

Contemporary architecture also claims its place in the cityscape and sets invigorating accents in the face of Graz that was shaped by earlier centuries. The most striking modern building is certainly the futuristic-looking Kunsthaus Graz, which was built in 2003. From above, from the Schlossberg, the orange-colored tiled roofs suddenly transport the viewer to Italy and to the »dolce vita« to be found there. It is probably no coincidence that generations of Grazers have already exchanged their first kisses in this romantic spot. The clock tower stands right below the “summit” of the Schlossberg – the landmark of Graz would have as much to tell as the many Renaissance and Art Nouveau facades, the Baroque and Gothic houses, the squares and alleys, which have references to their history in their name. The curved Sporgasse, for example, refers to the spur makers and armourers who worked here in the 14th and 15th centuries. The playground is derived from the original meaning of the word “frolic”, which used to mean taming and taming horses. In the 16th century a riding school was established here, in which noble horses were trained by the “tummel servants”. The term “Bermuda Triangle” for the quarter around Mehl- und Färberplatz is of more recent origin: many night owls have “perished” here for a short time.

The city on the Mur has everything that makes an interesting urban environment without offering its classic disadvantages: Graz has a delightful old town, lots of green, lots of life and shopping to your heart’s content. Traffic blackouts, astronomical prices and mass tourism are left to others. It remains to be hoped that Graz never climbs to the top of the bestseller list. Otherwise you would have to look around for another insider tip.

Old Town of Graz (World Heritage)

You may also like...