Vienna’s Mariahilferstrasse

by Peter Wurm:

Come on, Anton Pavlovich, let’s go for a walk. I will show you my world.

This is Vienna’s Mariahilferstrasse. It is two times two kilometers long. The inner part leads from Ringstrasse to Westbahnhof railway station and separates the sixth from the seventh district. These are the districts of the young creative people. These areas are very wealthy. The outer part leads from Westbahnhof through the Fifteenth District to the Technical Museum. It is inhabited mainly by workers and immigrants. This area is very poor. And Mariahilferstrasse connects these two worlds. I love it. For me it is the most beautiful street in the world.

The inner part of Mariahilferstrasse is an exceptionally popular shopping street, one of the most successful in Europe. There you can find everything your heart desires, especially shoes, clothes and chic bars. This part was converted into a promenade for pedestrians and cyclists. The outer part is also a shopping street, much less sophisticated, with traffic and lots of cheap shops, mostly for groceries, cell phones and kebabs.

If you want to get to know Vienna, then you should walk from the Ringstrasse up via the Westbahnhof to the Technical Museum. You will dive into the most diverse sides of Vienna. You’ll start in Imperial Vienna at the Hofburg Castle and after four kilometers to the west you’ll head staight into the nothing. But you will get a marvellous view of Schönbrunn Palace. Seen in this way, Mariahilferstrasse is a wonderful path of life.

The Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard once wrote about this street in his play “Heldenplatz”:

I am walking on Mariahilferstrasse
and I’m looking for Mariahilferstrasse;
and I am on Mariahilferstrasse
– and do not find it!

Now that he’s dead, he might have found.

Thank you, Anton Pavlovich, for listening to me. I’m going home now. Have a very good night!

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