Graz, the capital of Styria, owes its importance to the defence of central Europe against the Turks. From the 15th century, Graz was permanently under arms, rendering it far more secure than Vienna. During the last years of the Habsburg empire, the citys mild climate made it a popular retirement choice for officers and civil servants. Nowadays, however, it is the second largest Austrian city with plentyful night-time diversions, lots of cultural events and a population of around 285,000 inhabitants, amongst them some 40,000 students.
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Graz has the most diverse tramride in Austria were tramline no. 1 takes you from the barock jewels of Eggenberg castle on the western edge of the city to Mariatrost Basilika right on the eastern edge of Graz.
The most famous of these include the Kunsthaus (house of modern art) designed by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, a museum constructed right next to the river Mur, and the Murinsel (island in the Mur), an island made of steel, situated in the river. It was designed by the American architect Vito Acconci and contains a cafe, an open-air theatre and a playground.
Alte Galerie paintings and sculptures from the Romanesque to the end of the Baroque period, coin museum and regular exhibitions.
Neue Galerie visual arts from the 19th and 20th century.
Natural History Museum exhibition of botany, mineralogy and zoology.