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, 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.
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 built in this style is the Landhaus, designed by Domenico dell'Allio, and used by the local rulers as a governmental headquarters.
Graz 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.
In 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, and the site was extended in 2010 by Schloss Eggenberg.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.