What brought you to your corner of Austria?
Following the results of the referendum on our membership of the EU, I no longer had any interest to remain in the UK. Having been born, bred and lived in my small Welsh town my entire life up to that point (to the age of thirty), I felt the need to leave the ‘sinking ship’ and move to the continent before the option was no longer going to be available to me. Not long after, I began working for a company in Mödling (although I lived in Vienna), and it was there that I ended up striking a relationship with my colleague (who is now my wife).
Not long after moving in together (in Ottakring), my girlfriend (as she was at the time – before becoming my wife) fell pregnant. As a result, we decided that we would raise our child in her hometown so we could live closer to her parents as well as live somewhere where we felt life would take a much slower pace in comparison to the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the capital. Since then, I have to say, moving to my wife’s hometown of Mürzzuschlag was one of the best decisions I had ever made, and I love it here!
What traditions or customs are typical for your corner of Austria?
Mürzzuschlag and the surrounding communities are largely famous for winter sports and hiking. From my observations (after having lived here for several years) is that almost everyone over here takes advantage of the winter season to skiing, typically in neighboring Stuhleck and Semmering or to go cross country skiing between our town and Neuberg an der Mürz. Naturally, since we are surrounded by mountains, we are not short of hiking trails either; hence, it is not uncommon to meet someone you know from Mürzzuschlag on the same hiking trail as yourself.
We have an annual Pfarrball – a ball organised by the local Catholic parish, which usually takes place every February, and our local fire brigade organise an annual Oktoberfest festival in a large tent near the city centre, which is a great way of meeting other locals. Naturally, due to Covid regulations, these events have been cancelled since 2020. Our local Kunsthaus and Brahms Museum also regularly put on classical music concerts, which are also popular with locals.
However, in my opinion, one of the greatest highlights is the bi-annual Perchtenlauf celebration, an event that I often look forward to, and one in which draws huge crowds from within the community and the neighbouring areas. This usually takes place around late-November to early-December, where communities from all around the Alpine regions of Austria (including some communities from South Tyrol in Italy) come to parade their extravagant Krampus and Perchten costumes in an elaborate display complete with music and fireworks, as well as the horrifying (yet fascinating) Krampus and Perchten outfits.
What would you recommend a visitor who was visiting to see and do?
If cross-country skiing and/or hiking are hobbies of yours, Mürzzuschlag is definitely one of the best places to visit. We have numerous hiking trails around the area, as well as some that can take you to the peaks of Kaarl, Sheibe and Pretul, all of which provide stunning landscapes and an almost birds-eye view of Mürzzuschlag
We also have a number of museums, including the famous Südbahn Museum – a museum dedicated to the history of the Südbahn railway. Our town of Mürzzuschlag is also home to one of the largest winter sports museums in Europe, which is predominately dedicated to our area’s skiing culture and heritage. Our Brahms Museum is also a notable place to visit in our town, as Mürzzuschlag was where Johannes Brahms spent two summers in an apartment on today’s modern-day Wiener Straße, but most notably, this was the location where this celebrated musical composer pieced together his world famous ‘Fourth Symphony‘.
Where do you recommend to go and eat or to have a drink?
The town of Mürzzuschlag and its surrounding communities have a large number of eateries with local traditional cuisine, a Mexican restaurant, an authentic Italian Pizzeria, several kebab restaurants, and a recently built McDonalds. I would have to recommend a couple of restaurants that provide local cuisine. My favorites happens to be ‘Teichanlage Urani‘ in nearby Neuberg an der Mürz and the Krainer Hotel Restaurant in nearby Langenwang. The former is the more “affordable” option, whereas the latter is a bit more upmarket (if you happen to have a gourmet palate), but both provide a great experience in providing authentic Styrian cuisine.
How can your corner of Austria be reached (by car or public transport)?
Mürzzuschlag is located on the A2 Autobahn between Graz or Vienna, and making your way through the S6 until you find the junctions for either ‘Mürzzuschlag Ost’ or ‘Mürzzuschlag West’ in order to reach our town. By train, Mürzzuschlag is also served by RailJet trains from both Vienna and Graz, with direct trains around once an hour from either city (typically those that connect one to the other i.e. Vienna-Graz or Graz-Vienna).
Does anyone famous come from your corner of Austria?
The most notable individual to come from Mürzzuschlag is probably Viktor Kaplan, an Austrian engineer and inventor. He is most famous for his inception of the Kaplan Turbine, a water turbine that enabled practical volumes of water to generate a large amount of energy using a modest incline.
The winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature, Elfriede Jelinik, was also born in Mürzzuschlag, although was raised in Vienna. She is considered to be one of the most important living playwrights in the German speaking world along with fellow Nobel Laureate Peter Handke.
As mentioned previously, another famous celebrity associated with Mürzzuschlag is Johannes Brahms, even though he only stayed in Mürzzuschlag over two summers during the 19th century. The apartment building he stayed in is now a museum dedicated to him and his ‘Fourth Symphony’ – that he supposedly composed whilst staying in Mürzzuschlag. There are monuments to Brahms all around the town, and we even have a hiking route named after him, namely, the ‘Brahmsweg‘.
Enjoyed reading this “My Corner of Austria”?
Aryan’s interests are history, travel and politics, and of course, anthropology and he is currently working on a documentary about Mürzzuschlag with his film-maker wife, and we have a YouTube channel dedicated to travel and history (specialising in Austria and various other locations around central Europe). If you are interested to learn more about the history (as well as the sites and scenes) of different places throughout Austria (and other parts of central Europe), please check out Aryan and Katrin’s YouTube channel – AKA Excursions.
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