Graz, (Slovenian: Gradec, pronounced grah-dets), with a population of 305,000 (council census 2000) is the second-largest city in Austria and the capital of the federal state of Styria (Steiermark in German).
It has a long tradition as a student city, with four Universities and two Universities of Applied Sciences with over 50,000 students.
Graz's "Old Town" is one of the best-preserved city centers in Central Europe, and was recently included in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage sites.
In 2003 Graz was named Cultural Capital of Europe.
Federal State: Steiermark
Bezirk: Graz (Statutarstadt)
Area: 127.58 km²
Population: of which Hauptwohnsitze 305,000 (Census 2000), 226,244
Population density: 1,773/km²
Elevation: 353 m
Postal code(s): A-801x, A-802x, A-803x, A-804x, A-805x
Dialing code: +43 316
Location: 47°04' N 15°26' E
Community Identification Number: 60101
Address of the City Hall: Rathaus A-8011 Graz
The city is situated on the Mur river, in the southeast of Austria.
t is approximately 2.5 hours south of Vienna by train.
Graz is the capital and largest city in Styria, a beautiful and heavily forested area.
The city itself is surrounded by low hills on 3 sides, thus making it predisposed to haze in the warmer months.
Graz was originally the site of a Roman fort.
Later a small castle was built here by the Slovenians, which in time became a heavily defended fortification.
'Gradec' literally means "small castle" in Slovenian.
The German name 'Graz' was first used in 1128, and during this time 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 Ruldoph I.
In the 14th century Graz became the city of residence of the Inner Austrian line of the Habsburgs.
The royalty lived in the Schlossburg and from there ruled Styria, Carinthia, and parts of today's Italy and Slovenia (Carniola, Gorizia and Gradisca).
In the 16th century, the city's design and planning was 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, from which the local rulers used as a governmental headquarters.
Karl-Franzens Universität, also referred to as the University of Graz, is the city's oldest university, founded in 1585 by Archduke Charles II.
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-instituted as a university by Emperor Franz I, thus gaining the name 'Karl-Franzens Universität,' meaning 'Charles-Francis University.'
Over 30,000 students currently study at this university.
Nikola Tesla studied electrical engineering at the Polytechnic in Graz in 1875.
Nobel Laureate Otto Loewi taught at the University of Graz from 1909 until 1938.
Erwin Schrödinger was briefly chancellor of the University of Graz in 1936.
Soon thereafter, a small concentration camp was set up nearby (a sub-camp of Mauthausen) and Schrödinger fled.
Hitler was given a warm welcome when he visited in 1938 the year Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany. He promised the people of Graz a 1000 years of prosperity and an end to mass unemployment.
About 7 years later the Graz resistance surrendered the city to Soviet troops sparing Graz of any further destruction.
By then about 16% of buildings had been destroyed by allied bombing - luckily the Old Town was not seriously hit.
Graz lies in 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 are 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 often assaulted (unsuccessfully), e.g. by the Hungarians under Matthias Corvinus in 1481, and by the Ottoman Turks in 1529 and 1532.
Graz is home to the region's Provincial armory, which is the world's largest historical collection of 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 constructed on the Schlossberg at the end of the 16th century, which were overrun when Napoleon's army invaded and occupied Graz in 1797.
During the course of the invasion, the commanding officer in the fortress was ordered to defend it with his men against Napoleon's army, which numbered about 900 and 3,000 respectively.
He successfully defended the Schlossberg against 8 attacks, but they were forced to give up since the Grande Armee conquered Vienna and the Emperor ordered to surrender.
The fortress of Graz is seen as the strongest fortress ever built.
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 terms of 1815.
The belltower and the civic clock tower, often used as the symbol of Graz, were allowed to survive this fate after the people of Graz paid a ransom for their preservation.
Archduke Charles 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 Rome.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was born in Graz, in what is now the Stadtmuseum (city museum).
In the last few years new public buildings have been erected within the city.
The most famous ones are the "Kunsthaus" (house of modern art) by Peter Cook (architect) and Colin Fournier, a museum which is constructed right next to the river Mur, and the "Murinsel" (island in the Mur) which is an island made out of steel, situated in the river.
It was designed by the American architect Vito Acconci and contains a cafeteria, an open-air theatre and a playground.
Olga Neuwirth, one of the most important contemporary Austrian composers was born here.
Conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, known throughout the world for his performances of classical works on period instruments, was raised in Graz, having been born in Berlin.
Current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has sometimes regarded himself as a Grazer, although he was born and raised in a small farming village, Thal, about 2 km from the city.
The first Austrian formula 1 champion Jochen Rindt was raised in Graz by his grandmother.
Since 1999 the old town centre of Graz has been listed as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
During the year 2003 Graz had the title of "Cultural capital of Europe".
There are many festivals taking place in the city every summer such as the "Jazz Sommer", "La Strada" or "Classics in the City".
They can be visited by everyone without paying an entrance fee, except for some La Strada arrangements.
This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graz) August 2005.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).
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