Graz: Austria's Second City

Alan Palmer provides a brief history of a princely residence from the Middle Ages.

On the south-eastern flank of the Austrian Alps the river Mur cuts a route through the iron ore mountain. of 'green Styria' until conifer slopes give way to chestnuts and orchards, with a promise of vineyards on the sandier soils of the Hungarian plain. But before the Mur shakes off the Alps, it flows beneath a steep, isolated hill which dominates the changing landscape. More than eight hundred. years ago this hill, the Schlossberg, was crowned with a fortress, built to protect the valley from the hordes of the East. Settlers, on its slopes, corrupted the Slavonic word for fortress (gradec ) to call their town Graz; and by the late Middle Ages the city was a princely residence. Until 1759, Graz remained the administrative capital of Inner Austria', a region which included most of Styria, Carinthia, Slovenia and Gorizia, down to the Adriatic at Trieste.

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