Mürzzuschlag by the Semmering:
One of Styria′s early Industrial Pillars
The market town of Mürzzuschlag in Styria and a great stop-over destination for people who travel between Vienna / Lower Austria and Graz. There are a few small attractions that justify a stay and walk in the town centre. It is surrounded by scenic landscape and marks one end of the Semmering Railway, which was built in 1854 and is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
The name Mürzzuschlag was first mentioned in 1227, although early settlements pre-date this year significantly. According to a local legend, the name is derived from a term describing a bend in the river. Since Mürzzuschlag lies by the river Mürz, which does actually bend, the story would make perfect sense. Alas, it is wrong: In fact, the name is derived from the Slavonic "Muriza Slaka" - with Austria′s somewhat dubious relationship to its Slavonic heritage, it is understandable that an alternative explanation was favoured by the locals.
In the Middle Ages, the famous minstrel Ulrich von Liechtenstein (he of the tournament in Friesach) travelled through Mürzzuschlag on a trip from Venice to Bohemia and used the name in the poem "Frauendienst", spelled like "murzuslage".
Gateway to the Semmering Railroad
That much about the name. In 1360, Mürzzuschlag was granted the „Eisenrecht" („Iron Privilege") that permitted the burghers of the town to get involved with the manufacturing of iron small items. Whilst this sounds like a rather unimportant detail in the history of the town, it actually seeded the development of a fairly important tradition in iron ore and steel industries. The World′s first stainless steel was developed in the local Bleckmannwerke in 1912. Viktor Kaplan, the inventor of the modern turbine, was born here in 1876. Today, the steel industries are still crucial for the city, but require less staff. This has causes some social problems in the past few decades.
In terms of cultural achievements, Mürzzuschlag can offer surprisingly much given that it is a fairly small town: The writer and Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek was born here in 1946. Johannes Brahms wrote his fourth symphony in the town, which is also called the "Mürzzuschlager". Today, a Brahms museum commemorates the composer and his work.
Otherwise, there is a museum for winter sports for people with a specialist interest. It claims to hold the World′s most extensive collection of its kind. Other sightseeing includes a former Franciscan monastery, of which now only the church is left: Originally built in 1654, it was dissolved under the rule of Emperor Joseph II in 1799.
The church now serves as a conference centre and exhibition venue. Attractions nearby Mürzzuschlag include the Semmering and Rax mountains; slightly further away are Leoben and Eisenerz, similarly famous for their iron ore mining; Mariazell with the basilica and pilgrimage routes; and Wiener Neustadt in Lower Austria.
Back to: "Styria Sightseeing Guide"