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

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.