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. 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, from 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.
City of Graz – Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg
© Ko Hon Chiu Vincent
Outstanding Universal Value
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. 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. 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.
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.
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. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
The first traces of continuous human settlement of the site goes back to the Neolithic period. The site was not used as a Roman settlement, even though a few roads crossed it. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was invaded, first by Alpine Slavs, the Avars, a horse-riding nomadic people subjugated by Charlemagne; then by the Hungarians, who were defeated at the battle of Lechfeld in 955; and finally by German settlers. Graz was thus included in the march of Carinthia. A small fortress (gradec in Slavic, hence the name of Graz) was erected on the Schlossberg hill, while a few houses and a church were constructed around it. Graz was mentioned for the first time in an official deed of 1128/29.
It was around this time that an open market began to thrive, leading to the first urban development with the immigration of Bavarian settlers. Besides the local nobility, the population consisted of traders and artisans, as well as a Jewish community which remained there until the 15th century. Graz was governed by the Houses of Traungau and Babenberg, and was given the status of a city.
After the Treaty of Neuberg in 1379 and the first division of the Habsburg heritage, the city came under the rule of the line established by Leopold III. Graz became the capital of Inner Austria, composed of Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Istria, and Trieste. Graz also became a favourite royal place of residence, particularly for Frederick III (1453-93), who granted it many privileges, had many buildings erected, and rebuilt the Church of St Aegidius, now the cathedral.
The city and region then became involved in serious armed conflicts with Hungarian and Turkish invaders. In 1480, the Turks even arrived the gates of the city: this episode is portrayed in a fresco in the cathedral entitled "The Scourges of God," a Gothic masterpiece by Master Thomas von Villach. The 16th century was marked by constant threats from the Turks, as well as religious turmoil. To confront these threats, the medieval fortifications were completely reorganized and modernized according to the rules in force during the Renaissance. In 1559, the Clock Tower, the symbolic monument of Graz, was given its characteristic appearance, which has remained unchanged to these days.
In 1564, as a result of a new partition of the Habsburg lands, Graz became the capital of Inner Austria, despite the danger of Turkish invasions and the advances made by the Reformation. Three-quarters of the inhabitants were Protestants, active in the burgeoning Protestant Foundation where Kepler, the famous astronomer and mathematician, taught.
However, the city was soon to undergo the most important phase of its development with the arrival of the Jesuits in 1572. Archduke Charles II supported the Counter-Reformation, established the Jesuit University and went to great lengths to undermine the Protestant Foundation, which disappeared in 1600. His son Ferdinand had a monumental mausoleum built by the artist Pietro de Pomis. However, on his election as Emperor in 1618, he transferred his court to Vienna and Graz underwent a relative economic recession. During the 17th century, several mansions were built in the Renaissance or early Baroque styles: the Kollonitsch Palace, the Effans von Avernas Palace, and the Stubenberg palace, the last-named passing on to the Welserheim family. Facades were remodelled in these styles and courtyards enclosed by arches were added to existing buildings. In the western part of the city, the Governor of Inner Austria, Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, built a ducal palace of great artistic interest; it is the most important Baroque palace in Styria. The great architect Johann Bernhard Fisher von Erlach, was born in Graz in 1656. When the danger from the Turks was finally averted thanks to two decisive victories, Saint Gothard in 1664 and Vienna in 1683, the economy boomed once again. Aristocrats and bourgeoisie competed with each other in their aspirations for honours and culture.
Graz subsequently expanded towards the south and south-west Factories and banks were set up and started to thrive. However, the movement to centralize Austrian power, ending in the abolition of Inner Austria, weakened the institutions of Graz. At the same time, pilgrimage centres, such as Maria Hilf and Maria Trost, became monumental sanctuaries. The suppression of convents undertaken by Joseph II led to the closing of nine out of sixteen monasteries, whilst the University Library as enriched with works from forty monasteries in Styria and Carinthia. In 1786, the Bishop of Seckau transferred his residence to Graz and turned the Church of St Aegidius into a cathedral. The Jesuit Order was dissolved in 1773 and their university turned into a State university.
The economic growth of the city was severely affected by the wars between the Coalition and France. French troops occupied Graz on several occasions, in 1797, 1805,and 1809, imposing heavy war levies. They besieged the Schlossberg, which put up a brave resistance; however, under the terms of the Treaty of Schönbrunn, the fortifications had to be demolished. In 1839, a public park was laid out over the Schlossberg, giving it its present aspect.
The 1848 Revolution was a fairly moderate one. The pro- German middle class governed the city until 1918. It was a flourishing period for modern town planning. The city acquired military land to create green areas for the public and declared them as non aedificandi zones. Urban expansion was channelled outside this green belt and influenced by the Biedermeier style and then the Jugendstil, whilst the historic centre continued to be the social and commercial hub of the town.
The assassination of the heir to the throne, Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, who was born in Graz in the Khuenburg Palace, triggered off the hostilities of World War I in 1914. When the new frontiers were drawn up in 1918-19, Graz lost its hinterland and to a certain extent was relegated to the fringe from the geographical and economic points of view. In 1938, the seventeen surrounding municipalities formed a town incorporated into Greater Graz. World War II was followed by a slow return to normal, and Graz once again became a modern garden city, a cultural and industrial centre, and a university town. Source: Advisory Body Evaluation