The successful mining activities on Erzberg and the traditional University of Leoben are essential parts of the living cultural heritage around Erzberg. The most important bearers of mining traditions in the region are the traditional mining associations. They ensure the preservation and the passing on of this cultural heritage to future generations.
Even Archduke Johann, a great patron of Styria, appreciated and loved the region around Erzberg. The customs of the miners and smelters along the Steirische Eisenstraße (Styrian Iron Road) were declared UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage on 1 October 2018. They have developed from the everyday work of the miners and smelters in the extraction of ore. Today, ore mining is done in open-cast mines utilising state-of-the-art technology, but the long history of mining has left its mark on the region’s numerous traditions. These include, among others:
What do all these traditions have in common? The traditional costumes that have been handed down over the centuries are worn during festivities. They have been made in the Woschner tailor shop in Leoben since 1882. The handicraft business is one of the last in Austria to still produce the original mountain smock by hand.
Being aware of regional customs is one thing – living them is another. In ERZBERG LEOBEN, traditions are upheld. In the past as well as today, they are an integral part of numerous events and institutions.
On a cultural journey of discovery through Austria's small historic towns, a stop in Leoben along the Mur is an absolute must. Visitors can expect a multifaceted history between monastic splendour and steel-town bustle. The Gösser brewery and Montan University round off the cultural offers.
Customs play a particularly important role in the festivities during the Advent season. First and foremost is the festival in honour of Saint Barbara, which takes place every year around 4 December.
The Mettenschicht, too, can be traced back to a long mining tradition. This shift was originally the last before Christmas before the comrades could escape the dangers of the underground tunnels for a while. In 1984, mining councillor Anton Manfreda brought the custom back to life. Ever since then, people travel to the Mettenschicht in the tunnels on the miners' old team train, the Katl. Holy Mass is celebrated at the Barbara alcove, accompanied by music and singing.
The customs are not only found in celebrations and festivals. Life in museums and institutions such as the University of Leoben is marked by traditions as well.
On 4 December, the day of Saint Barbara, the ceremonial matriculation of the newly enrolled students takes place. On the same evening, the ever-popular Ledersprung is celebrated.
There are also academic celebrations three times a year, during which graduations, doctorates and other honours are conferred. The graduation ceremony marks the final farewell to student life. Other annual highlights are the University Ball at the end of January and the Bierauszug (beer procession). On this occasion, the students ask the university rector to dismiss them for their well-deserved holidays.
A total of 13 museums have joined to form the Museumsverbund Steirische Eisenstraße (Styrian Iron Road Museum Association). They enable visitors to travel back in time through the past and present of ore mining and the processing of iron and steel.
The flagship museum, Museumscenter Leoben, houses an extensive collection on regional history. The Gösseum combines tradition and innovation and invites visitors on an eventful journey into the past. The fully equipped charcoal blast furnace at Radwerk IV in Vordernberg is particularly impressive.