Open Air Friendship Concerts
Built in the Middle Ages as a trapezoidal market square, the Hauptplatz was the center of public life. And it still is. There is the town hall, the seat of the mayor and the city administration. All trams of Graz stop there. The major shopping streets lead to the square. And crowded around the monument to Archduke Johann, there are numerous sausage stands ("Würstelstände") where people like to stand together to have some krainer or frankfurter sausages with horseradish and mustard, and a pleasant chat.
In the Middle Ages, Graz was an important center of commerce and trade, where fairs and weekly markets where held. In the market square only burghers lived, mainly traders. The architecture of the staggered row of houses in the west of Hauptplatz, interrupted by narrow alleys, is reminiscent of the Middle Ages. Below wooden arcades the traders displayed their goods. Masonry arcades can be seen at the two Luegg Houses. Thanks to its gorgeous stucco facade from the late 17th century, the Luegg at the corner to Sporgasse is an impressive eye-catcher. In this respect it competes with the town hall dominating the southern part of Hauptplatz. It was erected in the late 19th century – as a spacious, imposing building meeting the requirements of the then fast growing city.
Since 1878, a monument/fountain has towered above the market stalls luring with hot franks, dairy products, fruit, ice cream, or pumpkin seed oil. The monument is dedicated to the "Styrian prince" Archduke Johann (1782-1859). Not without reason was the monument erected in such a prominent position in Graz. Archduke Johann started manifold initiatives which had a lasting positive effect on the development of Styria. The fountain shows the Hapsburg surrounded by four female figures. They symbolize the rivers Mur, Enns, Drava and Sann which flew through Styria in her old boarders.
In 2002, Hauptplatz was redesigned by Graz architect Markus Pernthaler. The wide empty area in front of the town hall offers room for various events, for instance promoting public life in the square. At night, friendly and warm indirect light accentuates the impressive colorful façades of Hauptplatz.
By the way: As the center of public life, Hauptplatz – up to the late 18th century – was also of importance for executing sentences in the public. For minor offences, people were pilloried there, were locked up in a cage, or had to ride on a wooden "donkey". Even executions took place in Hauptplatz. Only people of a higher rank were privileged: they were beheaded inside the town hall...