Graz is the second-largest city in Austria after Vienna and the capital of the federal state of Styria (Steiermark). On 1 April 2010 it had a population of 291,890 (of which 258,605 had principal residence status). Graz has a long tradition as a student city: its six universities have more than 44,000 students. Its "Old Town" is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe.
Politically and culturally, Graz was for centuries more important for Slovenes than Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and still remains influential.
The oldest settlement on the ground of the modern city of Graz dates back to the Copper Age. However, there is no historical continuity of a settlement before the Middle Ages. During the 12th century dukes under Babenberg rule
New fortifications were built on the Schlossberg at the end of the 16th century. Napoleon's
|Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II|
- Schloßberg. The word "Schloßberg" literally means "castle mountain", which describes it exactly. It is a hill topped by a castle, in the centre of the city. Among Graz's most famous tourist attractions, the castle, never occupied until its partial demolition by Napoleonic forces under the Peace of Schönbrunn of 1809, was once a place of refuge for Graz's residents. It was turned into a public park on account of Ludwig von Welden in 1839. The Schloßberg contains an "Uhrturm" (clock tower), which functions as a recognisable icon for the city. Remarkably, the clock's handles have opposite roles to the common notion. That is, the larger one marks hours while the smaller is for minutes. This is due to the fact that originally only the larger handle was there to point out hours and display of minutes was only added later. Near the Uhrturm there is a café with views over the old town. Additionally, on the western side of the Schloßberg, there are two small cafés, one with table service and the other one with self-service. Next to the terminus of the funicular railway there is a hilltop restaurant with views of western Graz. There is also a Turkish Well that was built by Turkish slaves that was used to get water during times when Schlossberg was under siege. The water was routed from the nearby River Mur.
- Graz Cathedral. Today's cathedral reminds of the days when Graz was an imperial city. Emperor Frederick III erected the church together with his new residence in Graz.
In the course of history, the cathedral saw many changes. Construction work of the court and parish church in late-Gothic style was started in 1438, as Jesuit church it was refurbished in Baroque style in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Since 1786 it has been the cathedral and main church of Catholics in Styria.
- The Herz-Jesu-Kirche. (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) is the largest church in Graz. It was designed down to the last detail by architect Georg Hauberrisser and constructed from 1881 to 1887. The church was designed in the Neogothic style, with a large, high nave and under-church. The tower is 109.6 meters tall, making it the third-highest church tower in Austria. Of special note are the stained glass windows, which are among the few extant examples in Austria of Neogothic stained glass. The altar area was remodelled in 1988 by Gustav Troger, just after the centenary of the church. Apart from that, everything is still according to the architect's concept.
- The Landeszeughaus. is the largest existing original armoury in the whole world and attracts visitors from all over the world. It holds approximately 32,000 pieces of weaponry, tools, suits of armour for battle and ones for parades. The Landeszeughaus was built from 1642 - 1645 by a tyrolean architect called Antonio Solar. Styria desperately needed such a large armoury to host a massive amount of weaponry and armour for the defence of styria against the invading Ottoman Empire. There was a defensive perimeter, 100 km south of Graz in nowadays Croatia/Hungary to defend styria against the Turks. The weapons stored in the Landeszeughaus were needed in order to equip the soldiers at this perimeter.
- Eggenberg Palace (Schloss Eggenberg) is the most significant Baroque palace complex in Styria. With its preserved accouterments, the extensive scenic gardens as well as some additional collections from the Universalmuseum Joanneum housed in the palace and park, Schloss Eggenberg counts among the most valuable cultural assets of Austria. With its construction and accouterment history, it exhibits the vicissitude and patronage of the one-time mightiest dynasty in Styria, the House of Eggenberg. In 2010, Schloss Eggenberg was recognized for its significance to cultural history in an expansion to the listing of the Graz Historic Old Town among UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. The palace lies on the western edge of the Styrian capital of Graz in the Eggenberg (Graz) district. The northern corner of the palace grounds features the Planetary Garden and Lapidarium of Roman stonework as well as the entrance to the new Archeological Museum, which houses the Cult Wagon of Strettweg. The numismatic collection, located in the former rooms of Balthasar Eggenberger, owner of the imperial minting license and operations in the Late Middle Ages, and the show collection of the Alte Galerie, a collection of medieval through early modern period artworks spanning 5 centuries of European art history are also housed in the palace itself.