Top Historic Sights in Graz, Austria

Explore the historic highlights of Graz

Historic Centre of Graz

Graz old town is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe. The oldest settlement on the ground of the modern city of Graz dates back to the Chalcolithic 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, gain ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Graz, Austria

Franciscan Abbey

The Franciscan monastery in Graz was founded by the Franciscan order, who still own it, and is first mentioned in 1239. In the church, a high but narrow 14th-century chancel contrasts with the comparatively low and wide nave. The chancel was gutted by a bomb in World War II, and subsequently rebuilt with a new contemporary interior. The stained glass windows bathe the church in light, whilst the chancel is dominated by a ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Graz, Austria

Graz Cathedral

Graz Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giles. It is the seat of the bishop of the Steiermark diocese. The church was built in 1438-1462 by Friederick III in the Gothic architecture. It was refurbished in Baroque style in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The exterior of the cathedral looks very sober today. In the Gothic period, however, the façades were covered with paintings. One fresco has been preserved - the so ...
Founded: 1438-1462 | Location: Graz, Austria

Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II

The Mausoleum of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II is located next to the Cathedral of Graz. Turquoise domes stand out against the blue sky above the Mausoleum and, together with the Dom and Katharinenkirche church, define one of the city’s magnificent views. In 1614 Ferdinand commissioned his Italian court painter and architect to erect a mausoleum and an adjacent St. Catherine"s Church next to today"s Cat ...
Founded: 1614 | Location: Graz, Austria

Schloßberg

The Schloßberg is the site of ancient fortress in the centre of the city of Graz, Austria. The hill is now a public park and enjoys extensive views of the city. The fortification of the Schloßberg goes back to at least the 10th century. In the mid-16th century, a 400 m long fortress was constructed by architects from the north of Italy. There are records of a cable-hauled lift being in use between 1528 and 159 ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Graz, Austria

Eggenberg Palace

Eggenberg Palace in Graz is the most significant Baroque palace complex in Styria. With its preserved accouterments, the extensive scenic gardens as well as some additional collections from the Universalmuseum Joanneum housed in the palace and park, Schloss Eggenberg counts among the most valuable cultural assets of Austria. With its construction and accouterment history, it exhibits the vicissitude and patronage of the o ...
Founded: 1625-1636 | Location: Graz, Austria

Herz-Jesu-Kirche

The Herz-Jesu-Kirche is the largest church in Graz. It was designed down to the last detail by architect Georg Hauberrisser and constructed from 1881 to 1887. The church was designed in the Neogothic style, with a large, high nave and under-church. The tower is 109.6 meters tall, making it the third-highest church tower in Austria. Of special note are the stained glass windows, which are among the few extant examples in ...
Founded: 1881-1887 | Location: Graz, Austria

Gösting Castle Ruins

The ruins of Gösting castle offer the perfect destination for a trek within easy reach of Graz. The steep but short ascent passes by the ‘Jungfernsprung’, the place from which, legend has it, the lovesick and grief-stricken Anna von Gösting threw herself to her doom. Further up, by the castle ruins, there are impressive views of the strategically important valley of the river Mur, Graz itself and the landscape aroun ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Graz, Austria

Mariatrost Basilica

The Baroque Mariatrost Basilica is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites of Styria in Austria. The pilgrimage church stands prominently on top of the Purberg hill in the northeast of Graz. It can be reached using the 200 or more steps of the Angelus stair. The basilica is classified as a Baroque building. Two front towers and a dome, visible from a great distance, are the characteristic attributes of the church, which i ...
Founded: 1714-1724 | Location: Graz, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.