Granted, he looks more like Porthos from the 3 Musketeers than a martial deity, but that’s not entirely his fault. He was created by the Baroque sculptor, Giovanni Mamolo.
The Landeszeughaus is a 10-year-old boy’s version of the rapture. As the world’s largest historic armory, it contains 32,000 exhibits on 4 packed floors. Anyone who has seen the Substitutiary Locomotion Battle in Bedknobs and Broomsticks will have some idea of its scope.
Along with pikes, swords, and gruesome weapons of destruction, keep an eye out for the rare (and complete) armored horse and a child’s ceremonial suit of armor.
The Styrian Armory’s collection of 15th-18th century work is particularly fine. Graz held a key defensive position during the Empire’s struggle with Ottoman Turks and Hungarian rebels, and did not hesitate to build up its arsenal.
In 1642, the city decided it needed a permanent home for its stockpile and asked the Tyrolean architect, Antonio Solar, to create a practical solution. The resulting building – floors, ceilings, and wall panels – was sheathed in wood to protect the iron from rusting. It still has the distinctive smell of war-lust.
When Maria Theresa tried to close the Landeszeughaus 100-odd years later, Styria protested. The armory was preserved, but decommissioned. It now stands as a monument to those who fought the “age-old enemy of Christendom” (i.e. the Turks).
Tips for Visiting
From April to October, opening hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday and Wednesday-Sunday. From November to March, admission is only through a guided tour. There aren’t many informative panels, so you should probably try a guided tour anyway. Photography (without flash) is allowed.
A short tally of the Styrian Armory holdings:
- 3,300 armors & helmets
- 7,800+ small arms (including muskets & pistols)
- 5,400 staff weapons
- 2,400 swords, sabres & similar
Originally, the armory had 92 cannon. As Napoleon stormed across Europe, heavy guns were sent to Yugoslavia for safe-keeping. Unfortunately, these were later sold to a bell-founder. The armory now only has 4.
This majestic charger comes to you courtesy of Konrad Seusenhofer, master armorer to the stars. Once the property of Georg von Stubenberg-Wurmberg, it is one of only 7 complete horse armors in the world.
In the early 16th century, Seusenhofer had the good fortune to work for a famous patron – Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. Maximilian was a rabid fan of jousting and tournaments, and kept his new employee more than busy. One of Seusenhofer’s most important tasks was to create an unusual suit of armor for the multi-spousal Henry VIII.
At that time, Henry VIII was still married to his first wife and behaving himself like a ‘umble Catholic should. By appealing to Henry’s overinflated ego, Maximilian was hoping to enlist the English king in the war against France. (The tactic worked.)
Henry’s armor is famous for its odd horned helmet. Due to its bizarre appearance, some once thought it belonged to Will Somers, Henry’s beloved court jester.
Although the rest of the armor was lost, the helmet survived. You’ll also see its ghost in the symbol for the Royal Armouries in Leeds.