What does the word Fiaker mean and where does it come from? How old is the tradition of the Fiaker in Vienna? How many hackney carriage entrepreneurs are there nowadays? When does the Viennese like to sit down in a Fiaker?
In Vienna, we can look back on a history of about 30 years of hackney carriages . What the gondolas mean for Venice are the Fiakers in Vienna. The Fiaker consists of three parts: horses, carriage and coachman.
The term Fiaker originally comes from the French, because in the Rue de Saint Fiacre in Paris, was the first stand for contract carriages . These were first used by a merchant as early as 1662 . However, the name was given to the Irish monk Fiacrius, whose image was on the outside wall of the inn there. Saint Fiacrius received the heavenly patronage over this new profession.
In Vienna, the first Fiaker license was granted about 30 years later. Around 1720 the carriages were renamed Fiaker and numbered consecutively. Of these, they were called Janschky wagons, named after the carriage entrepreneur Joseph Janschky. In the 19th century. there were already about 1,000 hackney carriages. Many coachmen were also singers, e.g. Josef Bratfisch, the body faker of Crown Prince Rudolf.
Fiakers always had to be discreet and were also secretly booked for so-called “china drives” . This was a careful ride, as if guiding porcelain. Lady and gentleman thus had the opportunity to enjoy themselves in the closed cabin.
Since World War I, hackney carriages have been hired in Vienna mainly for sightseeing tours (international guests) Prater visits (popular for confirmations) and special occasions (e.g. weddings) by locals.
The first female coachmen have existed since 1984. The prices for the round trips are set by the city of Vienna. Traditional dress is also regulated by law. Since 1998 a licence is necessary to be able to work as a Fiaker in Vienna.
Today there are about 40 Fiaker companies with 200 Fiaker-Horsecarriages in Vienna. Many of these carriages are now over 100 years old. To get more impression about old carriages or about the whole fleet of the Habsburg dynasty, we recommend you to visit the Carriage Museum next to the Schönbrunn Palace.
Among the approximately 40 Viennese coffee specialties , there is even a Fiaker coffee. This is a drink that consists of half black coffee and half whipped cream and is refined with rum .
In Vienna there are several Horse-drawn carriage stands, e.g. on Albertinaplatz, Michaelerplatz, Stephansplatz, St. Peter’s Square and Burgtheater/Volksgarten. For a small tour (approx. 20 minutes) through the city center you have to reckon with approx. 55 €, while a large tour (approx. 40 minutes) additionally includes the Ringstrasse and hits the travel budget with € 80. Four people fit in a carriage, so you can easily share the cost. Individual tours can also be booked. The Central Cemetery can also be explored by Fiaker as in imperial times.
Meanwhile, there are also guided tours to the stables to learn more about the horses, the Fiaker and their profession. For those who want it more elegant and with dinner, we recommend the Riding Dinner www.ridingdinner.com
Time Travel Tip:
Right near Time Travel you can either at Michaelerplatz.
or board a horse-drawn carriage at St. Peter’s Square and get to know Vienna the imperial way.