Graz Military Defenses


The Schlossberg is a massive rock of dolomitic rock and forms the core of the historic city of Graz , the capital of Styria in Austria . It lies directly on the banks of the Mur and towers 123 meters above the main square of Graz. In addition to the clock tower , the landmark of Graz, are on the Schlossberg also the bell tower, called Liesl , the Schlossberg Casemates, the 98 m deep Türkenbrunnen, all remains of the castle and a number of smaller art objects. As the core of the old town of Graz, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage City Graz - historical center and castle Eggenberg. As any self respecting or important city in Europe Graz had city walls and military towers for the defense of the city residents. During the Napoleonic troops Graz was occupied by the French troops of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. They dismantled and blew up most of the defenses in 1809. Some of the remaining towers were preserved.

Uhrturm (Graz)

The Glockenturm or the clock tower is the landmark and one of the oldest buildings in the city of Graz. The tower was mentioned as early as 1265 and contains three bells in its interior: the hour bell (oldest bell of Graz: 1382), the Poor Sinner bell of about 1450 and the fire bell (1645). It measures 28 m or 92 feet in height.


The core of the Graz clock tower probably dates from the 13th century and is therefore one of the oldest buildings on the Schloßberg. The first mention of a tower as part of the fortifications can be found around 1265. It got its current form as part of a conversion that was completed in 1569 with the installation of a first clock with three large dials. Above the dials, a wooden battlement leads around the tower, from which the fire watchmen could see the entire city center. In 1712 it got another dial on the north side, as well as a new clockwork created by Michael Sylvester Funck. The new clock was accurate enough to show minutes. However, unlike today, the hour hand is the larger hand because it was more important to be able to read the hours correctly from a distance.

When Napoleon's troops besieged Graz in the Fifth Coalition War in 1809, the clock tower was hit by one of the first bullets fired, but suffered no major damage. The Schloßberg was not conquered, but due to the Armistice of Znojmo it finally fell into enemy hands. However, the clock tower could be bought free by the citizens of Graz and was not demolished like the rest of the fortifications.

21st century
In 2003, when Graz was "European Capital of Culture", the clock tower was provided with a so-called "shadow". This was a black steel twin tower, built to scale by artist Markus Wilfling. The “clock tower shadow”, with which Wilfling “wanted to remind of the Nazi dark side of Graz”, was sold to the Shoppingcity Seiersberg, a shopping center on the outskirts of Graz, after the end of the Capital of Culture year 2003, where it has served as an attraction ever since. — After the purchase was completed, the media voiced calls for the artefact to remain indefinitely next to the clock tower in Graz. However, the city of Graz rejected both the repurchase and the local retention of the clock tower shadow because of foreseeable maintenance costs, but above all because of questions of liability for damage.

At the end of September 2008, the general renovation of the clock tower began. The soil moisture had massively added to the masonry. The first renovation phase, the renovation of the wooden battlement, was completed in mid-2009 at a cost of around 500,000 euros. Approximately 115,000 euros were raised by a 900 m² advertising space stretched around the scaffolding. Two further phases were planned until 2011. The clock tower was covered for the last time in November 2011 to restore the dials and clock hands.

Today, three bells are still preserved in the tower: According to its inscription, the hourly bell is the oldest bell in Graz (1382) and strikes every full hour. The fire bell of 1645 warned of fire in the various districts of Graz, depending on the number of blows. The poor sinners' bell from around 1450 rang for executions, and in the 19th century for curfew, which also gave it the name of the rag bell.

In the area of ​​the exit to the rose garden at the foot of the clock tower, from which an extremely impressive view opens up over Graz, there is a small, listed memorial plaque on a wall for Gerold Walzel (1901-1988) from Villach, Austria ), the author of the Graz student song (“Dreaming looked down from the Schlossberg, …”).

Below the clock tower, the stone dog keeps watch on a ledge. According to legend, in 1481 a barking dog saved Kunigunde, the daughter of Emperor Friedrich III, from being kidnapped by mercenaries employed by the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus, who had previously unsuccessfully proposed to the princess. As a thank you, Emperor Friedrich had the dog immortalized in the form of a statue.


Glockenturm (Graz)

The 34-meter-high, octagonal belfry was built in 1588 on behalf of Archduke Charles II . In its interior is the third largest bell of Styria, the 1587 in Graz by Martin "Mert" Hilger (1538-1601) cast "Liesl" (by Elisabeth). It has a diameter of 197 cm and weighs 4633 kg. The bell is rung daily at 7, 12 and 19 o'clock with 101 strokes. It is tuned to the main beat gis0. As a reason for this custom is reported that the bell was cast out of 101 salvaged cannonballs of the Turks. This tradition is probably not the reality, because the "Liesl" is like most bells made of bronze, cannon balls but not. Anyway, material was provided from the arsenal for the bell casting. In 1809 the bell tower was spared by the French intervention by the Graz citizens of the explosion. Under the bell tower is a dungeon known as "Bassgeige".

On September 21, 1921, the Schloßbergmuseum was opened in a small room on the second floor, which remained in existence until the 1990s.