The Golden U: the beating heart of Vienna

Ogi Savic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The Golden U is the pedestrianized area consisting of three shopping streets located directly in Vienna’s Inner City. It stretches from the palace of the Habsburg dynasty, Hofburg to the following roads, Kohlmarkt, Graben and Kärntner. The area envelops the main square, Stephansplatz,** and ends at the Opera House. It is the busiest part of the city; you may even say the beating heart of Vienna**.

Due to a large number of jewellers and its U-letter shape, it is called the Golden U. Fans of high-carat luxury and designer fashion can find here whatever their heart wishes. Besides many international labels such as Cartier or Tiffany, the area is home to traditional Viennese jewellers, like Schullin, Bucherer and Wagner. Some of them offer exclusive in-house made jewellery, while the others are the exclusive sellers for brand names such as Rolex or Philippe Patek.

Kohlmarkt: a street where Gucci meets Tiffany

The shortest of the three streets, Kohlmarkt is the most exclusive one. After the nearby imperial palace (Hofburg) was built, Kohlmarkt Street has attracted the merchants of high-quality and luxurious goods. It has remained like that ever since. Only the most prestigious brands, such as the international giants Gucci, Tiffany,** or Dior have their stores here. Due to its popularity and relatively small size, the rents in Kohlmarkt are the highest** of all shopping streets in Austria.

© iStock / RokaB

Graben: architecture and style

Graben is the most beautiful street in Vienna’s luxury mile. It is home to many stunning structures. The majority of them date back to the 19th century when the road was regulated, and almost all the old houses were replaced with new buildings. Since then, the street has become the shopping place for the upper classes and home of several K.u.k. Court suppliers. However, in the last decade, in some cases, long-established family businesses have now been replaced by the stores of big international brands. Besides luxury shops and jewellers, here you can also find cafes with big gardens, where it is very often impossible to find a free seat.

© iStock / VvoeVale

Kärtner Strasse: the high street of Vienna

Graben meets Kärtner Strasse at Vienna’s main square, Stephansplatz. Kärtner Strasse is probably the most famous street in Vienna. It has a long history dating back to the Roman time, and it was the main street for centuries. It is named after the Austrian province of Carinthia, and it has been carrying this name for almost 900 years. The buildings on Kärtner Strasse were extremely damaged during World War 2, which resulted in the numerous renovations of historical buildings and the constructions of several new ones. This process lasts even today, and some of the new buildings are highly controversial. Kärtner Strasse is lined with numerous shops, restaurants, and cafes. Almost every major fashion brand is present here with its store. Shops on Kärtner Strasse are not only for the rich; here you can also find fashion brands with lower price ranges.  

© iStock / efesenko

Today, the Golden U is the most important venue of urban life and the beloved Viennese promenade. The numerous shops, good quality cafes, and restaurants, plus the beautiful architecture make this area very popular with the locals and tourists as well. The beating heart of the city is very hard to miss during your visit to Vienna, and you shouldn't even try.  

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