Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Little Something About Graz

Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Graz, Austria. Ok, technically he's from a nearby village called Thal. But since I've never been to "Thal" (which sounds a little made-up to me anyway), I'm going to stick with Graz. I will, however, show you a picture of Arnold's (ridiculously Austrian) boyhood home:

Schwarzenegger's Childhood Home

They call that color Schönbrunn Yellow (Schönbrunner Gelb), after Vienna's most famous royal palace, the Schloß Schönbrunn:

Just kidding, that's my parents' house. Here is the palace:

This wee Habsburg summer palace was first painted yellow under Empress Maria Theresa, who also happens to have given birth to Marie Antoinette. Eventually, the Habsburgs took to painting all of their official buildings in this yellow, sparking a trend across the empire. The Schönbrunn website gives a nice explanation.

Back to Graz. A city of 257, 898, it lies in the southeast of Austria in a beautiful region (as though there's a region of Austria that's not beautiful) called Styria (Der Steiermark). Everyone will tell you it has "old world charm" in spades. I would have to agree.

If there is such a thing as "new world charm," I think Graz must have that, too. Take, for instance, this "island" in the river Mur. It's called the Murinsel and I seem to remember it mainly being a bar:
Or the nearby Kunsthaus Graz, a museum of contemporary art. It is sometimes referred to as the "friendly alien":My trip to Graz in 2006 happened to coincide with the Lange Nacht der Museen, a night when all of the museums in the city stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Let me tell you, the contemporary art museum was frightening in the middle of the night. We also came across sword fighting at some point. Cool idea, right? Berlin did it first in 1997 and dozens of cities across Europe have jumped on the bandwagon since. Too bad we can't do it in the States. We all know what happens at night in our museums...

Don't let the fact that these are Arnold's stomping grounds mislead you. Graz is a hotbed of higher education and has been since the founding of its first university in 1585. Today there are six universities that call the city home. The next Tesla or Kepler could very well be among Graz' 44,000 odd students. And yes, all 44,000 of them are odd. It certainly explains the vibrant mix of old and new.

Let's put Graz on the map, shall we?

View Larger Map

Some tidbits:

-The city's major football arena was called Arnold Schwarzenegger-Stadium until 2005 when the execution of a California prisoner sparked a major debate among the city's citizens. Ultimately the name was changed.
-As of 2001, there were 32,575 buildings in Graz.
-The city's colors are green and white, just like my high school's.
-Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg was born in Graz. Among other things, dude was dictator of Mongolia for 6 months in 1921.

Further Reading:

Stadt Graz
Virtual Tourist
University of Graz
RoboCup 2009


Sara said...

You're back! I had to leave your blog because I came to visit once and it was all scrambled and angry.

But I'm back, too!

Brian said...

Sehr geil, ja?