City of Graz - Historic Center (1999)

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United Nations (New York) 2003. World Cultural Heritage. Graz, Schloss Eggenberg. Austria.

Graz is a particularly fine example of a central European urban complex which experienced many centuries of Habsburg rule. 

The old city is a harmonious blend of the architectural styles and artistic movements that have succeeded each other since the Middle Ages, together with cultural influences from the neighbouring regions. 

  • United Nations (New York) 2003.  Graz.  Schloss Eggenberg. 
The historic center 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 crossroad 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 center of the city of Graz 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.

  • Austria 1960.  Austrian architecture.  Graz. 

Austria 1960.  World Cultural Heritage. Austrian architecture in Graz, Austria.

Graz is located in southeastern Austria, and is the capital of the Steiermark (Styria) Province, on the Mur River, bordered on three sides by the Alps. Graz is the second-largest city in Austria, after Vienna. Steel, railroad equipment, automobiles, chemicals, leather goods, and precision instruments are among the products manufactured in the city, which is the center of a considerable trade in wine, fruit, and cereal grains. The old town, on the western bank of the river, is connected with the new town, on the eastern bank, by seven bridges. The old town is built around the Schlossberg Park, which was a strongly fortified hill until 1809, when its fortifications were destroyed by the French. The buildings of Graz include an 11th-century castle, the 13th-century church of the Teutonic Knights, the 15th-century Gothic Cathedral of Saint Aegidius, and a 16th-century parish church with an altarpiece by the Venetian artist Il Tintoretto. Among educational institutions in the city are Graz University (1586), Graz Technical University (1811), and the University of Music and Dramatic Art (1963). 

The interior of Graz's Opera is rightly considered one of the most ornate compositions of any opera house in the world. It is also regarded to be the most successful accomplishment of the architectural duo Helmer and Fellner. The magnificent neo-Baroque structure was adapted according to the style of Austrian Baroque architect Fischer von Erlach at the express wishes of Graz's District Council. 

Austria 1999. World Cultural Heritage. 100th anniversary of Graz Opera House, Austria.

The style of the interior has remained unchanged since the opera's opening on September 16, 1899. The building's facade was altered considerably after relatively light bombing damage suffered in 1944.
In 1983 and 1984 the house underwent urgently needed restoration during which the technical requirements for contemporary and efficient arrangement of events were devised.

Graz's Opera House first opened as the "Graz City Theater". The composer Richard Wagner and poet Friedrich Schiller are regarded as the main artistic figures of the new house. This is even expressed in the arrangement of the auditorium's central ceiling fresco: Richard Wagner's
"Lohengrinn" is flanked by Schiller's "Wilhelm Tell" and Goethe's "Faust".

  • Austria 1999.  100th anniversary of Graz Opera House. The motif of the stamp marking the 100th anniversary depicts the "Goddess of light with the immaculate shield of purity and the eternal flame".

Graz is known to have existed in the 9th century AD and is thought to occupy the site of a Roman town. In the 15th century it was a residence of the Holy Roman emperors. In the 16th century it became one of the important centers of resistance to the Ottoman expansion in central Europe. The town was occupied by the French in 1797, 1805, and 1809, during the Napoleonic Wars. Following World War II (1939-1945) until 1955, Graz was included in the British Zone of Occupation of Austria. 

The city's name comes from "gradec", a Slavic word meaning “small fort,” which refers to the fortress that once stood on top of the Schlossberg.  

One of its most famous citizens of Graz is the American actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who in 2003 became governor of California. He was born on July 30, 1947 in Graz Thal, the son of a gendarme. He discovered bodybuilding while he was still at school and began to train regularly at the age of 15. 

In 1966, he was elected "Mr. Europe" and in 1967 he was elected the youngest "Mr. Universe" in London. By 1980, he had won the title "Mr. Universe" five times and "Mr. Olympia" seven times, and these successes made him one of the most important individuals in the history of bodybuilding. 

Schwarzenegger emigrated to the USA in 1968. In 1973, he began to study business management and economics, graduating in 1980. 

He acquired American citizenship in 1983, and in 1986 he married the journalist Maria Shriver, a niece of John F. Kennedy. The couple has four children. 

  • Austria 2004.  From the series "Austrians living abroad".  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Austria 2004. from the series "Austrians living abroad". Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

His well-trained body led him to the film industry. In his first role in 1970, in "Hercules in New York", his voice had to be synchronised because of his very strong accent. Schwarzenegger achieved an international reputation 12 years later with the film "Conan the Barbarian" (1982). Films such as "Terminator", "Total Recall", "Kindergarten Cop" and "True Lies" made him one of the highest-earning Hollywood actors. In his honour, the newly renovated Graz "Liebenau" stadium in his home country was renamed the "Arnold-Schwarzenegger Stadium". 

Politically, this moderate Republican was for a long time relatively inactive (apart from his function as consultant for American sport). On October 7, 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger (nicknamed by many the "Governator") was elected governor, and on November 17, 2003 before 7,500 invited guests he was inaugurated as the 38th Governor of the US state of California. 

The famous singer and former Minister of Education Melina Mercouri always tried to bring together the different peoples of the EU to improve the cultural cooperation and to promote specially the cultural aspects beside the economic and political unification. And so in 1985 Athens became the first Cultural Capital of Europe. 

Graz, some years ago the first bridge-head in the West for artists of the East, is today a point of intersection with multicultural tradition and a good mind for innovation even in the fields of science and economics and is so the best choice as Cultural Capital 2003. 

Austria 2003. Graz (Austria). Cultural Capital of Europe.

Intendant Wolfang Lorenz wantrf to prove that art and culture are necessary for a liberal and democratic society. The program was chosen under the guiding principle that culture is the most important output civilisation can produce. 

The reorganisation of public space and infrastructure will change Graz permanently: The isle in the river Mur with amphitheatre, cafe and children's playground is since January 2003 a swimming platform for arts and communication. 

 The big city-hall, a children's museum and places for arts and literature will be finished soon. 

  • Austria 2003.  Graz, Cultural Capital of Europe. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Austria (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Austria section, for more information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 18 aug 2007  
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