For a city of a mere 300,000, Graz has a large number of museums. Boys will no doubt be attracted to the Armory, which holds an extensive collection of medieval armory worn by the knights. We skipped that one and instead have gone to the Graz Museum, Kunsthouse and the Museum in Palais. There are a dozen to visit on our annual 30 euro pass. (click ‘continue reading’ below)
The Graz House comes with an extensive booklet in English. This is fortunate as the exhibits are entirely in German. The exhibit as well as the booklet starts with the Protestant reformation. Austria was largely in the Protestant camp, as were significant swaths of their German cousins to the north, but the country was ruled by the Hapsburgs who were Roman Catholics. The religious freedom granted in the run up to the battle against the expansion efforts of the Ottoman empire was rescinded after the threat was eliminated. The Hapsburgs returned the country to the Catholic fold, aided by the Inquisition and the vast number of Jesuit teaching institutions. There is remains today, although its numbers are dropping significantly, down to about 65%, although that number is far greater than the reality, given that today just 44% of the total population believes in some sort of deity.
In 1605 rebellious Hungarian Protestants joined forces with Turks and Tartars and invaded the region in response to Emperor Rudolf’s attempt to impose the Counter Reformation. Religious issues again came to the fore with the flight of Jews from 1938-41, when 2/3 of that population escape religious persecution and annihilation.
With the defeat of the Ottomans after the second siege of Vienna in 1683 came the expansion of the Austrians into Hungary and the Balkans, thus giving rise to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1804, when it became the second largest state in Europe after Russia. It was formed in part in response to the ascendancy of the French and at first it overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire, which was dissolved in 1807, and was made up of lands controlled by the Hapsburg family. The Museum does not cover this topic so I will not proceed further with it.
In the 15th c was the heyday of fortress construction, and by the 16th Graz was protected by fortress walls and a moat, presumably filled by the river.
This area is now a zone protected from further development so as to retain its character. On the other side of the river Mur, which is canalized in Graz, development is permitted and here you find the second museum of this piece, the Kunthaus, built in a style affectionately called ‘Blob Architecture, for obvious reasons.
It’s an excellent exhibition space and has some excellent examples of abstract art currently on display. http://kunsthausgraz.at
Finally we come to the Museum in Palais in the old town and next door to the Graz Museum, once home to nobility. The staterooms by Josef Hueber display gold decorations against white walls. There is a mirrored hall, not to compared with Versailles but lovely nonetheless. Too bad the place is unfurnished although there are some decorative objects.