‘The carnival was alive with chirpy families and ecstatic friends. The big wheel was merrily turning. And the booming laughter of my boys could be heard over the colliding bump cars.’
That’s probably how I’d summarise our afternoon at Prater…
From the Imperial Treasury (which we visited in the morning), we went for a short walk along the Burgring and Opernring roads, and from there hopped on the city tram that would take us to Prater, an amusement park where Vienna’s Giant Ferris Wheel could be found.
The park is located in the Leopolstadt District. It’s outside the Inner Stadt (Central District) but could be easily reached. For example, the tram ride that we took to go to the park was less than 30 minutes. We came back via the underground train which also did not take long.
Entrance to the park is free and you only have to buy tickets to the rides that you’d like to do. The park is big with over 200 attractions but of course it is the Giant Ferris Wheel that draws the most attention. It is after all one of the city’s most noticeable landmarks, made even more famous by some Hollywood movies including the 1995 romantic film of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Before Sunrise… Please tell me you’ve see this 🙂
Weiner Riesenrand, as Vienna’s Giant Ferris Wheel is officially called, was originally erected in 1897 to mark the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I’s (also Francis Joseph I) ascension to the Austrian throne. If you recall from my previous blog on Schönbrunn Palace, Emperor Franz Josef I (1830-1916) was the great-great grandson of of Empress Maria Theresa and husband of Empress Sisi.
Franz Josef I ascended to the throne in 1848 when he was just 18 years old. He died at age 86 after ruling Austria for 68 years. He could be remembered as the emperor who, in 1914, sent his empire to a world war (WWI 1914-1918) that led to its doom and that cost millions of lives. Triggered by the assassination of his nephew (his named successor), Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and wife Sophie, Emperor Franz Josef I issued an ultimatum to Serbia (whom Austria saw as the mastermind of the assassination) which was tantamount to declaring war. Tensions between the Central Powers and Allied Forces were already high that time but the assassination sparked the rapid chain of events that led to the impending global war.
Going back to a more joyful note, we headed to the Giant Ferris Wheel and was prepared to wait for a long time for our turn but it did not turn out that bad, perhaps just around 45 minutes. Besides, we were rightfully entertained by the cabins placed in the waiting area and which provided insights into the long, fascinating years of Viennese history.
It did not take long for the ride to finish. It wasn’t that big anyway, and was just half the side of the London Eye (120 meters in diameter) and Singapore Flyer (150 meters). From the top we could see the steeple of St Stephen’s Cathedral at the Central District. I could not remember seeing the Danube River but they say it could also be seen from the top.
Back in the Central District, it’s PARTY time!
Because in just a few hours it would be the New Year’s Eve countdown. That’s next..
Here are the earlier blogs on our Bavarian and Austrian Holiday:
- Munich: Start of our family’s tales from last winter
- Munich: Viktualienmarkt Biergarten
- Munich: BMW Museum and BMW Welt
- Munich: Theatine Church and Odeonplatz
- Munich: Christmas Markets
- Munich: Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall
- Munich: City Aparthotel München
- Salzburg: Birthplace of Mozart and Silent Night
- Salzburg: Hohensalzburg Fortress
- Salzburg: Residenzplatz Christmas Market
- Salzburg: Salzburg Cathedral
- Salzburg: Silent Night 200 at Salzburg Museum
- Salzburg: Silent Night Tour by Bob’s Special Tour
- Salzburg: Silent Night at Oberndorf and Laufen
- Salzkammergut: Road Trip to Hallstatt
- Salzkammergut: Christmas Market at St Wolfgang
- Salzburg: Krampus Run at Hellbrunn Palace
- Salzburg: Imlauer Hotel Pitter Salzburg
- Obergurgl: A Week in the Austrian Alps
- Obergurgl: Chalet Obergurgl Luxury Apartments
- Obergurgl: Hohe Mut Alm Mountain Restaurant
- Obergurgl: Snowstorm on Christmas Eve
- Obergurgl: Day After the Storm
- Obergurgl: Snowshoeing
- Hochgurgl: Tobogganing
- Hochgurgl: Hochgurgl Cable Car Ride
- Vienna: First Impressions
- Vienna: Hofburgkapelle and Imperial Armoury
- Vienna: Schönbrunn Palace
- Vienna: Imperial Treasury and Hofburg