The Ferris wheel, the roller coaster, the spirit house, the local specialty kiosks… are all attractions that entertain young and old. But the Vienna Prater is much more than an amusement park. Here vibrates the pop soul of the Austrian capital, which for generations has offered a accessible and inclusive microcosm. A real “district of happiness” which nevertheless has a history dating back several centuries.

In fact, not everyone may know that the area was an imperial hunting reserve accessible only to a few. It was then Joseph II at the end of the 18th century who had the barriers demolished, returning the park to the Viennese. A democratic achievement which still retains this popular flavor today, bringing together adults and children, citizens and visitors in a kaleidoscope of lights, sounds and scents. It is no coincidence that his story is told in the new Prater Museumwhich restores magic and mystery to this place in the heart of Vienna.

Once upon a time there was an aristocratic reserve

It was once a wooded area divided between different owners between the monastery of Klosterneuburg, the city administration and religious orders. It was the emperor who took over in the 16th century. Maximilian II who, as a passionate hunter, wanted to create a reserve populating it with deer, peacocks and fallow deer. A così elitario da proibire officially l'accesso alla popolazione per decreto imperiale nel 1592. Also Maria Teresa maintains the exclusivity of nobiliare della tenuta, ma ad aprire una breccia fu il marito Franz I, che concesse ai cittadini di accedervi exclusivamente nel mese di may.

A symbol of inclusion

The Viennese spring finally continued with Joseph II in 1766, when the emperor conceded open without time or class restrictions. Inns began to appear next to theaters, until the first (and only) Vienna World Expo in 1873. Thus, between a waltz tour and a concert attended by the rich Viennese, but also between singers and illusionists who attracted people in search of entertainment, this district became the point of reference for all the inhabitants. And it was precisely from the puppet shows, featuring the satirical character Hans Wurst (sausage), that the name by which the park is known was born, namely “Wurstelprater“.

Then moving to the city of Vienna in 1938, the Prater was damaged by bombing during the Second World War, which reduced it to a field of trenches. But after 1945, the area was reforested and the attractions rebuilt with new amusements added every year. Today it is a symbol of inclusion, fun and relaxation without an entry ticket (you only pay for the “journey” that interests you).

The most emblematic attractions

What would Vienna be without its big Wheel? Cinema knows this well and has made it emblematic in numerous films, from Orson Welles to The third man (1949) to James Bond in 007 – Dangerous area (1987), so much so that it was included among the “Treasures of European cinematographic culture”. This eye on the city was erected in 1897 on the occasion of the celebrations of 50 years of reign of Emperor Franz Joseph. Considered the largest ever built, with its 30 cabins 65 meters high, it was a jewel of modernity. However, the fires and bombs of 1944 put it to the test and yet, proof of its popularity, it was among the first structures to be rebuilt. It has been offering since 1947 a slow point of view to locals and visitors and, for a privileged few, a romantic dinner (two cabins can be reserved exclusively).

The symbol of the Prater is also the steam train (now joined by more modern locomotives) Lilliputbahn which was put into service in 1928. A nostalgic route through woods, meadows, hiking trails and attractions over 4 kilometers which includes as many stops: Prater central station, Schweizerhaus-Luftburg, the Rotunda and the stadium terminus Ernst Happel.

Another vintage style view very popular with the Viennese is the Prater Tower. A kind of swing 117 meters which offers a dizzying view of the city while floating with your legs in the air.

Another Prater: what’s new for 2024

Perpetually in creative effervescence, the Prater offers something new or renewed every year. From summer 2024 it will be possible appreciate the whole history of the place with the new Prater museum, housed in a three-story sustainable wooden building. Among the rooms, you can discover all the curious and magical stories hidden behind the souvenirs, tricks, posters and stage machines of historical fairgrounds: from the ventriloquist to the fortune teller, to the Lilliputian woman.

Those who like to jump on trampolines will be delighted to try the Jumpworld.Onea 2,000 square meter park which offers platforms, free fall towers, trampolines and courses for all levels and ages.

And it's also brand new with a high level of emotion and spectacularity. Laser Dance: a futuristic carousel where you move on rotating seats to the rhythm of the music. At the center of the stage is the DJ console which offers the ideal sound for spinning among laser light shows. The attraction is accessible in two variants and speeds: thrills And Family walk.

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In other words, times change but the philosophy remains the same: Vienna's Prater is everyone's home.

Info: austriche.info

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