Graz is the capital of Austria's federal state of Styria and in 2003, was designated as Europe's Capital City Of Culture. Indeed, due to its geographical location, for many centuries, Graz has been a melting pot of culture.
The Schlossberg Mountain tower above the city and in 1894, a rack railway was introduced in order to overcome the severity of its 60 percent gradient. The Romans and Celts once used the mountain as a place of ritual ceremony and today, small pathways and pavilions make the mountain more accessible. In the 12th century, a medieval castle was built on the plateau and in 1531, it was transformed into a mighty fortress that served as a defense against the Turks.
With nearly 32,000 exhibits that date from the 15th to the 19th centuries, the Landeszeughaus contains the largest collection of historic weaponry in the world.
The often-extended Grazer Burg was once the residence of the Hapsburgs. One of its towers contains a unique double spiral Gothic staircase constructed of sandstone that shines out magnificently in a wonderful array of color. The entire complex, along with each of its numerous building styles and adjoining park, is now the seat of Styria's provincial government.
Located on a hill to the northeast there is another fine example of Baroque architecture, the Mariatrost Basilica. In the 17th century, those who sought help and consolation climbed 215 steps to a Gothic Madonna who was thought to possess miraculous powers. Within the interior of the church and its colorful wall and ceiling mounted frescos, there are also various scenes of battle.
Graz is a city in which the artistic and architectural styles of the German-speaking nations, the Balkans and the Mediterranean are united. It is a remarkable city of age old traditions, medieval flair and contemporary life.