City of Graz –Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg
City Of Graz –Historic Centre And Schloss Eggenberg
Cultural Austria Europe And North America

The historic centre of the city of Graz reflects artistic and architectural movements originating from the Germanic region, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean, for which it served as a crossroads for centuries. The greatest architects and artists of these different regions expressed themselves forcefully here and thus created brilliant syntheses. The urban complex forming the historic centre of the city is an exceptional example of a harmonious integration of architectural styles from successive periods. Each age is represented by typical buildings, which are often masterpieces. The urban physiognomy faithfully tells the story of its historic development.

The first traces of continuous human settlement go back to the Neolithic period. The site was not a Roman settlement, even though crossed by a few roads. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was invaded, successively by Avars, Hungarians, and finally by German settlers. Graz was included in the March of Carinthia and mentioned for the first time in an official deed of 1128-29. Around this time an open market began to flourish, leading to urban development with the immigration of Bavarian settlers. After the Treaty of Neuberg (1379) and the first division of the Habsburg heritage, Graz came under the rule of the line established by Leopold III.

The 16th century was marked by constant threats from the Turks, as well as religious turmoil. The medieval fortifications were modernized according to Renaissance principles. In 1564, Graz became the capital of Inner Austria, despite the danger of Turkish invasions and the advances made by the Reformation. When elected Emperor in 1618, Ferdinand, son of Archduke Charles II, transferred his court to Vienna, and Graz underwent a relative economic recession. When the danger from the Turks was finally averted the economy boomed once again. Aristocrats and bourgeoisie competed with each other in their aspirations for honours and culture, and several mansions were built in Renaissance or early Baroque style.

Among the hundreds of buildings of great historic and architectural interest, a few particularly remarkable edifices are worthy of note. Of the original castle where Emperor Frederick III resided, all that remains is a Gothic hall, a late Gothic chapel, and a double spiral staircase going back to 1499. The wing constructed by Archduke Charles in 1570 has remained largely intact. Frederick III built the present cathedral in late Gothic style (1438-64) alongside a Romanesque church dedicated to St Aegidius. It contains admirable frescoes such as the 'Scourges of God', attributed to Thomas von Villach (1480). Following the transfer of the bishopric from Seckau to Graz, the church of St Aegidius, used for 200 years as a centre for the Counter-Reformation, became the cathedral of the new diocese in 1786.

The Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II, started in 1614 by Giovanni de Ponis, was only consecrated in 1714 when the interior decoration, entrusted to Johann Bernhard Fischer von Ehrlach, was completed. The facade in particular reflects the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque style and is an original synthesis between a powerful architecture topped by light domes. The Seminary (former Jesuit College): unlike other colleges, this impressive complex, started in 1572, was not remodelled in the Baroque style and is therefore an important illustration of the severe Renaissance architecture adopted by the order when it was first established in the German province.

After the dissolution of the order in 1773, the Jesuit University came under public control. In order to safeguard its collection, the library was installed in the old magna aula and in the theatre, on the orders of Empress Maria Theresa. Its decoration and furnishings make it a significant manifestation of the transition from the Rococo to the classical style, and it now serves as a show case for the Styrian Archives.