Vienna Prater and Giant Ferris Wheel

Wiener prater

The Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel and the Prater – the oldest Ferris wheel in the world in the largest park in Vienna

Where does the name of the Wiener Prater come from? What was its purpose for centuries? What are the two meanings of the Prater? When does the Viennese go to the Prater and take a ride on the Ferris wheel?

The Prater, with 6km² the largest park in Vienna, is a huge local recreation area for the Viennese. Popular is the 5km long Prater Hauptallee for cycling, running, walking, also the Vienna Marathon uses the beautiful route of this chestnut avenue.

The oldest mention of the Prater is found in a document from 1162. Emperor Frederick

  1. Barbarossa gave the land, called Pratum (Latin for “meadow“), to a nobleman named Conrad de Prato. The de Prato family later called Prater.

The relatively untouched floodplain forest on islands in the Danube served the Habsburg rulers since the 16th century. as a private hunting ground. Maximilian II bought the grounds from ecclesiastical orders and congregations around 1560. The floodplain was thus the hunting ground of the Habsburgs for centuries and became a hunting ground at the end of the 18th century. made accessible to the public, much to the chagrin of many a nobleman.

The main avenue quickly became the stomping ground of the better society, coffee houses were built there in 1786, later a panorama was erected and in 1808 the world famous circus Bach opened. While a glittering parade for the court society developed on the main avenue, the people found ever new amusements in the Wurstelprater .

The Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel is the main attraction of the amusement park and another landmark of Vienna . When the Viennese goes to the Prater, it can be the recreation area or the Wurstelprater. Ideally, it combines both. On special occasions (first communion, confirmation, engagement, marriage, birthday) the Viennese like to go to the Prater and take a ride on the Ferris wheel.

The Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel was inaugurated in 1897 for the 50th anniversary of the throne of Emperor Franz Joseph (husband of Empress Elisabeth). It is the oldest, still existing and with 2.7 km/h also the slowest Ferris wheel in the world . It is about65m high and weighs a sensational 430 tons! The distinctive red gondolas take about 15-20 minutes for one rotation and the view from the top is magnificent. They say that if you haven’t taken a ride on the Ferris wheel, you haven’t really seen Vienna!

Movies are often filmed on and in the Ferris wheel, e.g. the post-war classic “The Third Man” with Orson Welles or the James Bond movie “The Touch of Death” with Timothy Dalton. The wagons are also popular for renting for birthdays, weddings and exclusive receptions.

For about 10 years, the Kaiserwiese in front of the Prater has always been a very festive place in the fall. The

Wiener Wiesn,” a copy of Munich’s Oktoberfest, has successfully caught on. It is well attended for three weeks in September/October. A good opportunity to get the “Dirndl” (traditional dress of the woman) and the lederhosen out of the closet to dance with beer and Stelze to the typical folk music.


Time Travel Tip:
Take streetcar no. 1 from Schwedenplatz and get off at the Prater terminus. There you walk along the main avenue to the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel . Popular with children is a ride on the Lilliputbahn, an old steam locomotive that has been puffing through the Prater for almost 100 years.

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