The article is dedicated to the analysis of Nietzsche’s specific understanding of European culture. It presents an in-depth study of philosopher’s two key notions: “nihilism” and “decadence” as fundamental characteristics of modern European culture. “Nihilism” is thought of as a sort of a loss of meaning following the experience of comprehending the worthlessness of life, based on the failure to grasp the integrity and the very sense of existence as such. “Decadence” is portrayed as a physiological foundation of “nihilism”, i.e. vital degradation and decline of the human race as a biological species.