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Prater


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Vienna is a city which can be overlooked easily, and most of its sights can be found on a relatively small area concentrated in the historical downtown. Still there are some sights in the surroundings of Vienna which should not be missed. Such as the huge palace in Schönbrunn with its wonderful gardens, it was the favorite staying place of Marie Therese, or the famous Prater, symbol of Vienna, which was built in the 19th century at the edge of Vienna for the entertainment of the workers living in Vienna, with its sideshows, fun-fair, shooting galleries, roundabouts and beer gardens.

On the once foresty island between the Danube and the Danube Canal a wildlife park was created in the time of emperor Maximilian II, later it was baroquized, and "reforming emperor" Joseph II opened it for the public in 1766. The district behind the Big Wheel was a popular place for excursions even in the end of the 18th century, with milk bars, cafés, inns. In 1830 a certain Basileo Calafati opened a "studio for magicians tricks and psychomancy, shortly after it a roundabout. Not much later sideshows, bowling alleys and other entertainment apperred, too, this was the cradle of Volksprater.

The symbol of Volksprater is the Big Wheel erecting in the middle of the fun park, constructed by an English engineer, Walter Basset in the end of the 19th century. The structure is almost 67 m high, it weights 430 tons and at the first times it had 30 cabins. It was visited not only by the guests who wished amusement but also acrobats who used this revolving wonder as a scene of their show.

In World War I the Big Wheel was occupied by the highest military headquarters and used it as an observation point. In World War II the bombs damaged it seriously. After the horror it did not take too much time to give re-birth to the steel structure. It gained world fame as a scene in Carol Reed's movie "The Third Man", later it played roles in several American movies as Vienna background. On its 90th birthday the Big Wheel was riched by a next idea: a luxury cabin, which is a suitable scene for talks, smaller celebrations, wedding anniversaries. Since 1987, number 30 is for the luxury cabin which welcomes its demanding guests with mahagonny covers, secessionist curtains, marble tables and tonett-style chairs, with light blue carpets and a lighting system of up to date halogen lamps.

In our days, this fun-park functioning since the 19th century is one of the most up to date high tech fun parks in Europe, with the atmosphere of classic celebrations. Main sights:
  • Big Wheel - In our days the 14 minutes trip is a compulsory program in sight seeing in Vienna. The wheel moves very slowly, just about 75 cm per second, in order to offer time to enjoy the panorama of the park and the city.
  • Hauptallee - This alley with chestnut trees on its sides leads us 5 km long in the middle of the Prater.
  • Freudenau horse racing field - In this stadium on the overside of the Hauptallee horse races are take place from Spring to Autumn.
  • Trotting Stadium - Krieau Stadium built in 1913 offers home for exciting home and international trotting races in the season from September until June.
  • Prater Museum - Several relics from old times (posters, photographs, tablets, paintings, roundabout figures etc.) can be seen in this museum.


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