Vienna, Sixth District: Mariahilf
If you live in Vienna, you are affiliated with the district that you live at in a similar manner as tribal societies are associated with a clan - you feel a cold breeze and hateful stares every time you cross the border to another district. When I lived in Vienna, the sixth district or Mariahilf was my home for a quite a while and in a way, I still feel like I have the duty to defend Mariahilf and portray it as being particularly cool. Just that you are warned and not disappointed to find out that Mariahilf might be not that great after all.
Let me start with giving you a general orientation: The sixth district′s western border is outlined by the Gürtel, apart from the Leopoldstadt the most important red light area in Vienna. The southern border is the Naschmarkt area with its amazing food stalls full of domestic and exotic fruits, vegetables and spices.
The northern border is the Mariahilferstraße, more or less a continuous shopping mall where you can buy all kinds of useless things: Clothes, shoes, handbags, mobile phones, more clothes, household devices, electronic devices, even more clothes and a few useful things (food, electronic nerd-toys, beer). The eastern borer is the Lastenstraße, which was built mostly for deliveries for the pompous palaces of the Ringstraße. Here you find the Academy of Fine Arts.
Naschmarkt & Theatre Scene of Mariahilf
The academy is responsible for the arty atmosphere of the eastern corner of Mariahilf. Here you find many small galleries and art shops, alongside with specialist stores for interior design and designer furniture. The most remarkable are those that are specialised on lamps and lamp shades. Just by the Wienzeile where the Naschmarkt takes place, you find the "Theater an der Wien".
Once in the 18th century, it was a suburbian theatre of dubious reputation, run by a freemason named Emmanuel Schikaneder. Together with his drinking buddy and loge brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he produced an opera called "Die Zauberflöte" ("The Magic Flute"), which was first performed here in his Theater an der Wien.
This did not prevent the people in charge with the Theater an der Wien to transform its sacred halls into a musical stage until a few years ago, when it finally became one of three opera houses of Vienna again. Unfortunately, many Austrians still view it as "the musical place", which is as close to being a gay bar as a venue can get without actually being a gay bar. No wonder the area is still popular with men of that sort - which in fact applies to most of the sixth district.
Wienzeile & Haus des Meeres Aquarium
Moving on along the Wienzeile, you will soon get to two of the most famous buildings in Mariahilf: The Wienzeilenhaus and the Majolikahaus, both designs in Art Nouveau or Jugendstil by Otto Wagner. This is also a good point for turning right to move towards Gumpendorferstraße and the central part of Mariahilf.
This area is dominated by a massive concrete Flak tower - once built by the Nazis do defend Vienna against air raids during WWII, it is now used as a private zoo and aquarium. From the roof of the "Haus des Meeres" you can enjoy an excellent view on the surrounding buildings and the rest of Vienna. The Barnabitenkirche or Mariahilfer Church is a baroque church of pilgrimage and worth a closer look.
More things to see in Mariahilf
The memorial for Joseph Haydn in front of the church commemorates the fact that the "father" of the Viennese Classic lived and died in Mariahilf. He lived near the Kirche St. Aegyd, which is also called "Haydnkirche". Right next to the concrete tower, you can find the Apollo movie theatre, remarkable for its Art Deco fašade; inside there is a standard multi-screen cinema like many others all over.
The area further west is mostly residential, but also full with small shops, restaurants and a few backyard stage theatres. It is generally less arty than the east of Mariahilf, but still worth a walk. In the West of the sixth district, there are few sightseeing attractions - unless you are a fan of cheap porn and prostitutes.
There is the
Raimund theatre, though, named after the playwright and actor Ferdinand Raimund. It is now Vienna′s premier musical stage and thus, not my favourite venue.
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Sightseeing Guides to Vienna′s Districts
District Overview - 1st District (Innere Stadt) - 2nd District (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd District (Landstraße) - 4th District (Wieden) - 5th District (Margareten) - 6th District (Mariahilf) - 7th District (Neubau) - 8th District (Josefstadt) - 9th District (Alsergrund) - 10th District (Favoriten) - 11th District (Simmering) - 12th District (Meidling) - 13th District (Hietzing) - 14th District (Penzing) - 15th District (Fünfhaus) - 16th District (Ottakring) - 17th District (Hernals) - 18th District (Währing) - 19th District (Döbling) - 20th District (Brigittenau) - 21st District (Floridsdorf) - 22nd District (Donaustadt) - 23rd District (Liesing)