Graz (German: [ɡʁaːts] (listen); Slovene: Gradec) is the capital city of the Austrian state of Styria and second-largest city in Austria after Vienna. As of 1 January 2021, it had a population of 331,562 (294,236 of whom had principal-residence status). In 2018, the population of the Graz larger urban zone (LUZ) stood at 652,654, based on principal-residence status. Graz is known as a college and university city, with four colleges and four universities. Combined, the city is home to more than 60,000 students. Its historic centre (Altstadt) is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe.
Location within Styria
|• Mayor||Elke Kahr (KPÖ)|
|• Total||127.57 km2 (49.26 sq mi)|
|Elevation||353 m (1,158 ft)|
|• Density||2,300/km2 (6,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
A-801x, A-802x, A-803x, A-804x, A-805x
|Area code||+43 316|
|Official name||City of Graz – Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg|
|Criteria||Cultural: ii, iv|
|Inscription||1999 (23rd Session)|
In 1999, the city's historic centre was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and in 2010 the designation was expanded to include Eggenberg Palace (German: Schloss Eggenberg) on the western edge of the city. Graz was designated the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2003 and became a City of Culinary Delights in 2008.
The name of the city, Graz, formerly spelled Gratz, most likely stems from the Slavic gradec, which means "small castle". Some archaeological finds point to the erection of a small castle by Alpine Slavic people, which over time became a heavily defended fortification. In literary Slovene, gradec still means "small castle", forming a hypocoristic derivative of Proto-West-South Slavic *gradьcъ, which descends via liquid metathesis from Common Slavic *gardьcъ and via the Slavic third palatalisation from Proto-Slavic *gardiku, originally denoting "small town, settlement". The name thus follows the common South Slavic pattern for naming settlements as grad. The German name 'Graz' first appears in records in 1128. Related to the Czech Hradec (e.g. Hradec Králové) of the same meaning.
Graz is situated on both sides of the Mur river in southeast Austria. It is about 150 km (93 mi) southwest of Vienna (Wien). The nearest larger urban centre is Maribor (Marburg) in Slovenia, which is about 50 km (31 mi) to the south. Graz is the state capital and largest city in Styria, a green and heavily forested region on the eastern edge of the Alps. It is located in the Graz Basin and surrounded by mountains and hills to the north, east and west. The city center sits at an elevation of 353 m (1,158 ft), the highest point is Plabutsch mountain with 754 m (2,474 ft) at the western border. The mountain Schöckl is just a few kilometers to the north and surmounts the city by 1,100 m (3,600 ft).
These towns and villages border Graz:
Graz is divided into 17 municipal districts (Stadtbezirke):
I. Innere Stadt (3,389)
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).
In the 16th century, the city's design and planning were primarily controlled by Italian Renaissance architects and artists. One of the most famous buildings representative of this style is the Landhaus, designed by Domenico dell'Allio, and used by the local rulers as a governmental headquarters.
The University of Graz was founded by Archduke Karl II in 1585, it's the city's oldest university. For most of its existence, it was controlled by the Catholic church, and was closed in 1782 by Joseph II in an attempt to gain state control over educational institutions. Joseph II transformed it into a lyceum where civil servants and medical personnel were trained. In 1827 it was re-established as a university by Emperor Franz I, and was named 'Karl-Franzens Universität' or 'Charles-Francis University' in English. More than 30,000 students are currently enrolled at this university.
Astronomer Johannes Kepler lived in Graz for a short period. He worked as a math teacher and was a professor of mathematics at the University of Graz, but still found time to study astronomy. He left Graz for Prague when Lutherans were banned from the city.
Nobel Laureate Otto Loewi taught at the University of Graz from 1909 until 1938. Ivo Andrić, the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature Laureate obtained his doctorate at the University of Graz. Erwin Schrödinger was briefly chancellor of the University of Graz in 1936.
Graz is centrally located within today's Bundesland (state) of Styria, or Steiermark in German. Mark is an old German word indicating a large area of land used as a defensive border, in which the peasantry is taught how to organize and fight in the case of an invasion. With a strategic location at the head of the open and fertile Mur valley, Graz was historically a target of invaders, such as the Hungarians under Matthias Corvinus in 1481, and the Ottoman Turks in 1529 and 1532. Apart from the Riegersburg Castle, the Schlossberg was the only fortification in the region that never fell to the Ottoman Turks. Graz is home to the region's provincial armory, which is the world's largest historical collection of late medieval and Renaissance weaponry. It has been preserved since 1551, and displays over 30,000 items.
From the earlier part of the 15th century, Graz was the residence of the younger branch of the Habsburgs, which succeeded to the imperial throne in 1619 in the person of Emperor Ferdinand II, who moved the capital to Vienna. New fortifications were built on the Schlossberg at the end of the 16th century. Napoleon's army occupied Graz in 1797. In 1809, the city withstood another assault by the French army. During this attack, the commanding officer in the fortress was ordered to defend it with about 900 men against Napoleon's army of about 3,000. He successfully defended the Schlossberg against eight attacks, but they were forced to give up after the Grande Armée occupied Vienna and the Emperor ordered to surrender. Following the defeat of Austria by Napoleonic forces at the Battle of Wagram in 1809, the fortifications were demolished using explosives, as stipulated in the Peace of Schönbrunn of the same year. The belltower (Glockenturm) and the civic clock tower (Uhrturm), which is a leading tourist attraction and serves as a symbol for Graz, were spared after the citizens of Graz paid a ransom for their preservation.
Archduke Karl II of Inner Austria had 20,000 Protestant books burned in the square of what is now a mental hospital, and succeeded in returning Styria to the authority of the Holy See. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was born in Graz in what is now the Stadtmuseum (city museum).
On April 2, 1945, while the heaviest Allied bomb raid of Graz occurred, the Gestapo and Waffen-SS committed a massacre against resistance fighters, Hungarian-Jewish forced laborers, and POWs at the SS barracks at Graz-Wetzelsdorf.
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal-residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students. At the end of 2016 there were 33,473 people with secondary residence status in Graz.
(1 January 2021)
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||7,398|
Oceanic climate is the type found in the city, but due to the 0 °C isotherm, the same occurs in a humid continental climate with based in Köppen system (Cfb/Dfb borderline). Wladimir Köppen himself was in town and conducted studies to see how the climate of the past influenced the Continental Drift theory. Due to its position southeast of the Alps, Graz is shielded from the prevailing westerly winds that bring weather fronts in from the North Atlantic to northwestern and central Europe. The weather in Graz is thus influenced by the Mediterranean, and it has more hours of sunshine per year than Vienna or Salzburg and also less wind or rain. Graz lies in a basin that is only open to the south, causing the climate to be warmer than would be expected at that latitude. Plants are found in Graz that normally grow much further south.
|Climate data for Graz (1971–2000)|
|Record high °C (°F)||21.0
|Average high °C (°F)||2.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−1.0
|Average low °C (°F)||−3.8
|Record low °C (°F)||−20.2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||23.9
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||12.8
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||4.8||4.8||6.6||7.9||10.6||11.5||10.7||9.7||7.5||6.3||6.5||5.2||92.1|
|Average snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm)||15.6||10.0||4.1||0.5||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||2.8||9.1||42.1|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||90.4||117.8||145.7||166.4||210.0||213.0||234.4||226.9||174.0||139.6||93.0||78.8||1,890|
|Source: Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics|
Politically, culturally, scientifically and religiously, Graz was an important centre for all Slovenes, especially from the establishment of the University of Graz in 1586 until the establishment of University of Ljubljana in 1919. In 1574, the first Slovene Catholic book was published in Graz, and in 1592, Hieronymus Megiser published in Graz the book Dictionarium quatuor linguarum, the first multilingual dictionary of Slovene.
The student associations in Graz were a crucible of the Slovene identity, and the Slovene students in Graz were more nationally aware than some others. This led to fierce anti-Slovene efforts of German-speaking nationalists in Graz before and during World War II.
Many Slovenian Styrians study there. Slovenes are among the professors at the Institute for Jazz in Graz. Numerous Slovenes have found employment there, while being formerly unemployed in Slovenia. For the Slovene culture, Graz remains permanently important due to its university and the Universalmuseum Joanneum archives containing numerous documents from the Slovenian Styria.
A symposium on the relation of Graz and the Slovenes was held in Graz in 2010, at the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the first and oldest chair of Slovene. It was established at the Lyzeum of Graz in July 1811 on the initiative of Janez Nepomuk Primic A collection of lectures on the topic was published. The Slovenian Post commemorated the anniversary with a stamp..
For the year that Graz was Cultural Capital of Europe, new structures were erected. The Graz Museum of Contemporary Art (German: Kunsthaus) was designed by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier and is situated next to the Mur river. The Island in the Mur is a floating platform made of steel. It was designed by American architect Vito Acconci and contains a café, an open-air theatre and a playground.
The historic centre was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999 due to the harmonious co-existence of typical buildings from different epochs and in different architectural styles. Situated in a cultural borderland between Central Europe, Italy and the Balkan States, Graz absorbed various influences from the neighbouring regions and thus received its exceptional townscape. Today the historic centre consists of over 1,000 buildings, their age ranging from Gothic to contemporary.
The most important sights in the historic centre are:
For much of its post-war history Graz was a stronghold of the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), but since the late 1990s the party has lost most of its support on a local level. It was overtaken by the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) in 2003, which remained the largest party in the city council (Gemeinderat) until 2021. With the decline of the SPÖ, the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) has become highly popular in Graz, despite its negligible presence on a national level. The party placed third with 20.8% of votes in the 2003 local election, which has been attributed to the popularity of local leader Ernest Kaltenegger. It fell to 11.2% in 2008, but recovered under new leader Elke Kahr, becoming the second most popular party in Graz with 19.9% in 2012 and 20.3% in 2017. The KPÖ's popularity in Graz allowed them to enter to the Styrian state parliament in the 2005 election, marking their first appearance in a state parliament in 35 years; they have retained their seats in the subsequent 2010, 2015, and 2019 elections. The 2021 municipal election saw a collapse in the ÖVP's popularity, allowing the KPÖ, once again led by Elke Kahr, to become the largest party with 29% of votes. She was subsequently elected mayor in November, leading a coalition with the Greens and SPÖ.
The most recent city council election was held on 26 September 2021, and the results were as follows:
|Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ)||Elke Kahr||34,283||28.84||8.50||15||5||3||1|
|Austrian People's Party (ÖVP)||Siegfried Nagl||30,797||25.91||11.88||13||6||2||1|
|The Greens – The Green Alternative (GRÜNE)||Judith Schwentner||20,593||17.32||6.81||9||4||1||±0|
|Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ)||Mario Eustacchio||12,612||10.61||5.25||5||3||1||±0|
|Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ)||Michael Ehmann||11,325||9.53||0.52||4||1||0||±0|
|NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS)||Philipp Pointner||6,447||5.42||1.48||2||1||0||±0|
|Source: Stadt Graz|
The most important museums in Graz are:
The Old Town and the adjacent districts are characterized by the historic residential buildings and churches found there. In the outer districts buildings are predominantly of the architectural styles from the second half of the 20th century.
In 1965 the Grazer Schule (School of Graz) was founded. Several buildings around the universities are of this style, for example the green houses by Volker Giencke and the RESOWI center by Günther Domenig.
Before Graz became the European Capital of Culture in 2003, several new projects were realized, such as the Stadthalle, the Kindermuseum (museum for children), the Helmut-List-Halle, the Kunsthaus and the Murinsel.
Buildings in Graz which are at least 50m tall:
|Name or Address||Completion||Usage||Height (m)||floors|
|3. 4.||Kärntner Straße 212, Liebenauer Hauptstraße 309||1968 and 1955||residential||69||21|
|6.||Alpha Tower||1960/2 floors added in 2015||residential||67||21|
|7.||Telekom Austria Tower||1960s||office||65||15|
|9.||Styria Media Center||2014||office||60||15|
|10.||Science Tower||2017||office||60||12 plus skygarden|
|11. 12. 13. 14.||St. Peter Pfarrweg, Kindermanngasse, Hanuschgasse, Algersdorferstraße||1960/70s||residential||55||17|
|15. 16. 17. 18.||Vinzenz Muchitschstraße, Ungergasse, Kärntner Straße 216, Eggenberger Gürtel||1970s||residential||52||16|
SK Sturm Graz is the main football club of the city, with three Austrian championships, 5 Austrian Cup wins and 3 participations in the Champions League (where they were 1st in the first group stage in 2000/01 and therefore got promoted to the round of 16 as the first Austrian club ever) . Grazer AK also won an Austrian championship, but went into administration in 2007 and was excluded from the professional league system.
The city bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics in 1995, but lost the election to Salt Lake City. Nowadays there is a plan to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics with some venues in Bavaria, Germany to cut costs using existing venues around national borders. It's still facing a referendum, meaning usually the end for many former Olympic bids in Europe and North America since 1970.
Graz hosts the annual festival of classical music Styriarte, founded in 1985 to tie conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt closer to his hometown. Events have been held at different venues in Graz and in the surrounding region.
Referred to as Steirisch by locals, Graz belongs to the Austro-Bavarian region of dialects, more specifically a mix of Central Bavarian in the western part of Styria and Southern Bavarian in the eastern part. The Grazer ORF, the Graz subsidiary of Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, launched an initiative in 2008 called Scho wieda Steirisch g'redt in order to highlight the numerous dialects of Graz and Styria in general and to cultivate the pride many Styrians hold for their local culture. Two reasons for a melding of these dialects with Standard German: the influence of television and radio bringing Standard German into the home and the industrialization causing the disappearance of the single farmer since the farming communities are seen as the true keepers of dialect speaking.
An extensive public transport network makes Graz an easy city to navigate without a car. The city has a comprehensive bus network, complementing the Graz tram network consisting of eight lines. Four lines pass through the underground tram stop at the central railway station (Hauptbahnhof) and on to the city centre before branching out. Furthermore, there are seven night-time bus routes, although these run only at weekends and on evenings preceding public holidays.
From the central railway station (Hauptbahnhof), regional trains link to most of Styria. Direct trains run to most major cities nearby including Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Maribor and Ljubljana in Slovenia, Zagreb in Croatia, Budapest in Hungary, Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic, Zürich in Switzerland, as well as Munich, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt in Germany. Trains for Vienna leave every hour. In recent years many railway stations within the city limits and in the suburbs have been rebuilt or modernised and are now part of the "S-Bahn Graz", a commuter train service connecting the city with its suburban area and towns nearby.
Graz Airport is located about 10 km (6 mi) south of the city centre and is accessible by bus, railway, taxi and car. Direct destinations include Amsterdam, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Istanbul, Vienna and Zurich. In 2021 a two-line metro system was proposed for Graz, which would make Graz the second Austrian city with a rapid transit system after Vienna.
In Graz there are seven hospitals, several private hospitals and sanatoriums, as well as 44 pharmacies.
The University Hospital Graz (LKH-Universitäts-Klinikum Graz) is located in eastern Graz and has 1,556 beds and 7,190 employees. The Regional Hospital Graz II (LKH Graz II) has two sites in Graz. The western site (LKH Graz II Standort West) is located in Eggenberg and has 280 beds and about 500 employees, the southern site (LKH Graz II Standort Süd) specializes in neurology and psychiatry and is located in Straßgang with 880 beds and 1,100 employees. The AUVA Accident Hospital (Unfallkrankenhaus der AUVA) is in Eggenberg and has 180 beds and a total of 444 employees.
The Albert Schweitzer Clinic in the western part of the city is a geriatric hospital with 304 beds, the Hospital of St. John of God (Krankenhaus der Barmherzigen Brüder) has two sites in Graz, one in Lend with 225 beds and one in Eggenberg with 260 beds. The Hospital of the Order of Saint Elizabeth (Krankenhaus der Elisabethinen) in Gries has 182 beds.
There are several private clinics as well: the Privatklinik Kastanienhof, the Privatklinik Leech, the Privatklinik der Kreuzschwestern, the Sanatorium St. Leonhard, the Sanatorium Hansa and the Privatklinik Graz-Ragnitz.
EMS in Graz is provided solely by the Austrian Red Cross. Perpetually two emergency doctor's cars (NEF – Notarzteinsatzfahrzeug), two NAWs (Notarztwagen – ambulances staffed with a physician in addition to regular personnel) and about 30 RTWs (Rettungswagen – regular ambulances) are on standby. Furthermore, several non-emergency ambulances (KTW – Krankentransportwagen) and a Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) are operated by the Red Cross to transport non-emergency patients to and between hospitals. In addition to the Red Cross, the Labourers'-Samaritan-Alliance (Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Österreichs), the Austrian organisation of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps (Malteser Hospitaldienst Austria) and the Green Cross (Grünes Kreuz) operate ambulances (KTW) for non-emergency patient transport. In addition to the cars, there's also the C12 air ambulance helicopter stationed at Graz airport, staffed with an emergency physician in addition to regular personnel.
The following are past and present notable residents of Graz.