Graz is second-largest city in Austria after Vienna

Graz is the capital of Styria and second-largest city in Austria after Vienna. On 1 July 2015, it had a population of 310,391 (of which 278,050 had principal residence status). In 2014, the population of the Graz Larger Urban Zone who had principal residence status stood at 605,143.


Town has a long tradition as a «university town»: its six universities have more than 44,000 students. The universities of Graz:

Its «Old Town» is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe.

In 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, and the site was extended in 2010 by Schloss Eggenberg. Graz was sole Cultural Capital of Europe for 2003 and got the title of a City of Culinary Delights in 2008.

Graz is situated on the Mur River in the southeast of Austria. It is about 200 km (120 mi) southwest of Vienna. The nearest larger urban center is Maribor in Slovenia which is about 50 km (31 mi) away. Graz is the capital and largest city in Styria, a green and heavily forested area.

History of Graz

The oldest settlement on the ground of the modern city of Graz dates back to the Copper Age. However, no historical continuity exists of a settlement before the Middle Ages.


During the 12th century, dukes under Babenberg rule made the town into an important commercial center. Later, Graz came under the rule of the Habsburgs, and in 1281, gained special privileges from King Rudolph I.

In the 14th century, Graz became the city of residence of the Inner Austrian line of the Habsburgs. The royalty lived in the Schloßberg castle and from there ruled Styria, Carinthia, most of today’s Slovenia, and parts of Italy (Carniola, Gorizia and Gradisca, Trieste).

The roots of Graz can be traced back to Roman times, when a small fort was built where the city centre is today; Slovenians later built a larger fortress in the same place. The name «Graz» is derived from the Slovenian word gradec, which means small castle.

Graz was first mentioned with its German name in 1128 when the dukes of Babenberg turned the place into a commercial centre. During 15th century Graz became the capital of Inner Austria (refering to Styria, Carinthia and Carniola) under the Habsburgs.

Graz has a rich history in education manifested by the number of universities in the city. The first university was founded in 1585 (Karl-Franzens-Universität).

Due to its importance as a strategic position, Graz was often assaulted by Ottoman Turks in the 16th century. The fortress located on the Schlossberg never fell to the Turks (the only place in this region).

graz clock tower

During WWII, Graz was part of Nazi Germany (along with rest of Austria). The thriving Jewish community was destroyed by the Nazis, and their grand synagogue was burnt. A small group of Graz Jews returned despite everything after the war.

In 2000, on the anniversary of the Reichskristallnacht, Graz city council presented the Jewish community with a new synagogue as a gesture of reconciliation. Hitler promised the people of Graz 1,000 years of prosperity and an end to mass unemployment; only seven years later, the Graz resistance surrendered the city to Soviet troops, sparing Graz any further destruction.

By then, about 16% of buildings had been destroyed by Allied bombing — luckily the Old Town was not seriously hit. In 2003 town was the Cultural Capital of Europe.

Graz is also known for the Magna Steyr (formerly called Steyr-Daimler-Puch) automobile and truck manufacturing plant located there.

It is also the birthplace (in nearby Thal) of bodybuilder, actor and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. Its UPC-Arena was renamed in Schwarzenegger’s honor in 1997, but was renamed again in 2005, following controversy over the governor’s support of California’s death penalty.

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The City of Graz — Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg bear witness to an exemplary model of the living heritage of a central European urban complex influenced by the secular presence of the Habsburgs and the cultural and artistic role played by the main aristocratic families.

Schloss Eggenberg

They are a harmonious blend of the architectural styles and artistic movements that have succeeded each other from the Middle Ages until the 18th century, in the many neighbouring regions of Central and Mediterranean Europe.

They embody a diversified and highly comprehensive ensemble of architectural, decorative and landscape examples of these interchanges of influence.

Criterion (ii)

The City of Graz — Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg 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 a brilliant syntheses.

Criterion (iv)

The urban complex forming the City of Graz — Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg is an exceptional example of a harmonious integration of architectural styles from successive periods.

schloss eggenberg

Each age is represented by typical buildings, which are often masterpieces. The physiognomy of the city and of the castle faithfully tells the story of their common historic and cultural development.

Integrity and authenticity

The extension of the City of Graz — Historic Centre property to include Schloss Eggenberg significantly strengthens the integrity of the property. The extension gives rise to the new enlarged buffer zone which is continuous, and includes the ancient road. Furthermore, the castle and its gardens have conserved satisfactory architectural and structural integrity.

planetary garden Schloss Eggenberg

The external authenticity of the castle is good, and that of the baroque interior on the first floor is excellent. The authenticity of the ground floor, which has been converted into a museum, and that of the garden, which has been partly redesigned and restored, are of a lower level which however remains acceptable.

Protection and management requirements

Schloss Eggenberg is protected under the Austrian Monument Protection Act (533/1923 and amendments). The Management Plan has been in place since 2007 and brings together the town plan of 2009 and all protection and conservation decisions related to the extended property and the buffer zone, which was enlarged to include the road leading from the historic centre of the city of Graz to Schloss Eggenberg.

The Coordination Bureau for the extended property has been in place since 2009, and has been granted strengthened and effective overarching powers. However, particular care needs to be taken with regard to urban development pressures inside the property and its buffer zone, in order to maintain the outstanding universal value of the property and ensure that it is fully expressed.

Graz as Melting Pot

The city lies at the crossroads of European culture. Romanic, Slavic, Hungarian and Alpine-Germanic influences have all mingled here and formed a uniquely distinctive character. Wandering through the old town, you can experience one of the largest historic architectural ensembles in the German-speaking world.

Moreover, this varied cultural character can be seen in buildings ranging in style from Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Historicism up to Art Nouveau.


On December 1, 1999, this exceptional city centre, which until the present had only a few examples of modern architecture, became a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. The award was a great honour for Graz, but it also poses a great challenge and a mandate to continue efforts to further preserve the old town.

old town

Graz’s multicultural tradition has characterized the city for decades, and continues to form the base of its cultural and political identity. To this day, Graz is a place of international encounter as well as intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.

Looking to the Future

The Styrian capital is increasingly renowned for its exemplary efforts for sustainability. The Ökoprofit and Thermoprofit partnerships, for example, successfully guide businesses to be more environmentally friendly, conserve energy and thereby also save money. These innovative projects have already been adopted by many other international cities.

innovative projects

Town also continues to flourish culturally. 2003 was one of the most significant years in our history. The city was named «Cultural Capital of Europe» by the EU Ministries of Culture, and a colourful cultural program attracted visitors from all over the world.

The city has sustained this success and is rapidly regaining a significant place on the global map so that, it is now mentioned on the same level as Vienna and Salzburg.

GRAZ in numbers

  • 17 districts
  • 127,58 square kilometres area (40 percent are green spaces)
  • 57.000 buildings with 43.000 house numbers
  • 353 mean height above sea level
  • 763 metre highest point (Plabutsch/Fürstenstand)
  • Schloßberg 47° 05´ latitude, 15° 26´ longitude, 353 metres above sea level
  • 65,92 kilometres of city limits
  • 15 bridges over the River Mur

Situation as of: 31 December, 2012

Epicure Region with typical local specialities

Graz has been the first official «Epicure Capital of Austria» since 2008. Styria has 15 Epicure Regions each boasting its own typical local cuisine and specialities.

And Graz is at the centre of it all! Graz offers the delicious and superbly varied speciality dish Graz butter-head salad. The traditional country market at Kaiser-Josef-Platz, Lendplatz and in many other parts of the city, with a total of 14 different farmer’s markets.

farmer's market

Gourmet travel festival — international star chefs offer the joys of the table in absolute perfection. A delicious taste of hospitality in Graz can be experienced in the many great restaurants, cafés and bars on the squares and side streets of the city.

There is no finer place to relax in the centre of the city than the Graz Schloßberg with its celebrated Clock Tower landmark. Equally popular as attractive places to relax are the historic Stadtpark am Glacis, the Schlosspark Eggenberg and the Augarten.

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