Description of Prater
Underground: For the amusement park: Praterstern (U1, U2) and
Messe-Prater (U2) stations. For the forest area, stations Krieau,
Stadion and Donaumarina (all U2)
Tram: Line 1 Prater Hauptallee
(terminus, in the middle of the park), Lines 5 and O Praterstern
Arriving by car: parking spaces on the exhibition street and on the
Prater or Wurstelprater amusement park is a large
public park situated on the outskirts of Austrian capital
known as a second district or Leopoldstadt.
neighborhood covers an area between Danube river and the Danube canal. In the
medieval times these forests and meadows were reserved for the
Imperial royal family as a hunting ground. In 1766 Emperor of the
Austro- Hungarian Empire Joseph II
opened Prater as a public park available for common people. In the
19th century Prater saw dramatic increase in size and complexity of
its tourist attractions.
Today Prate park is dominated by a giant
Ferris wheel that is also
one of the most visited destinations in Vienna. Other interesting sights
include an exhibition centre, planetarium, trotting stadium,
miniature rail roads with small trains known as Prater Liliputbahn
and many others. As you visit Prater you should orient yourself
along Haptalee that is 3 miles (5 km) long and runs along the whole
distance of Prater. If you want to escape large tourist crowds you
can take a walk through picturesque woodlands along a web of paths.
The Vienna Prater is located in the southeastern part of the
river island, which has been formed by the Danube and Danube
Canal since the Danube regulation ended in 1875. There is no
officially defined delimitation of the Prater area. Over
time, the area known as the “Prater” has been significantly
reduced by building construction; so today the built-up
Stuwerviertel (formerly swimming school maize, fireworks
maize) is no longer referred to as part of the Prater, as is
the Freudenau harbor located in the very south-east of the
island, which is also known as the winter harbor.
Prater is usually (but not officially) bordered by the
following lines: in the north, starting from the
Praterstern, from the exhibition street; in the northeast of
the street Vorgartenstraße - Wehlistraße -
Hafenzufahrtsstraße; in the south-east from
Seitenhafenstrasse; in the south and southwest of the Danube
Canal and Schüttelstrasse; to the west from Stoffellagasse
As usual for a wetland area, the
Prater is very flat; the highest point, the seven-meter-high
Constantine Hill, was artificially piled up. The Prater area
can be divided into three different types of landscape:
The northwestern part from Praterstern to Meiereistraße
is extensive parkland. The only body of water is the
artificially created, small duck pond on Constantine Hill.
The middle part from Meiereistraße to Lusthaus is also a dry
area, but partly still has the vegetation of an alluvial
forest. The area is crossed by the Danube arms Upper
Heustadelwasser and Lower Heustadelwasser as well as the
small rose varnishes.
The southeastern part from the
Lusthaus to the Seitenhafenstrasse still represents a
relatively natural, moist floodplain landscape. The
elongated ponds Lusthauswasser and Mauthnerwasser are
remnants of the original Danube Canal, which flowed past the
Lusthaus until it was regulated in 1832. To the north of it
is the Krebsenwasser, an old Danube arm.
Prater was placed under landscape protection on January 27,
1978. The Mauthner water and the crayfish water are
protected as natural monuments, as are some trees and groups
of trees in the Prater.
Origin of name
The oldest mention of the Prater
can be found in a document from 1162, in which Emperor Friedrich I.
Barbarossa properties between the Schwechat and the Danube near
Mannswörth are called Pratum (Latin for "meadow") ("quod dictur
Pratum") Nobles named Conrad de Prato ("Cuonradus, qui dictur de
Prato") gave. The de Prato family later called themselves Prater.
The next mention is in a document from the year 1403. Duke
Albrecht IV enfeoffed the municipality of Stadlau with the three
floodplains Segengrundt, Scheiben and Pratter (all parts of today's
Prater): “… three floodplains located in the Thunaw [Danube] bey
Stadlaw [Stadlau], one of which is related discs, the other is the
Segengrundt and the third is the Pratter, which is from Unns fiefdom
At the end of the 15th century the name was changed to
Bardea under the Hungarian Matthias Corvinus, but Emperor Maximilian
I gave the Au its old name back a few years later. The spelling
Pratter was used in Vienna for a long time.
The Prater used to be a relatively untouched alluvial
forest. Originally, the term Prater only referred to a small island
in the Danube north of the Freudenau, but over the centuries the
term has also been used for adjacent floodplains, for example since
the 19th century also for the Krieau and the one further upstream
with meadows interspersed alluvial forest.
In order to
establish a direct connection between the imperial Augarten palace
and the hunting grounds of the court in the Prater, the 4.4 km long,
dead straight main avenue was laid out in 1538 (almost parallel to
today's main river of the Danube). It was created by felling in the
alluvial forest. The middle section between 1st Rondeau
(Meiereistraße) and 2nd Rondeau (Lusthausstraße) did not exist until
1866/1867; here the avenue was interrupted by the haystack water, on
the southern bank of which a road completed the connection. In 1867
the middle section, which had bridges over the haystack water at
both ends, was opened. Since then, the main avenue has led
continuously from the Praterstern to the Lusthaus.
several owners had properties in the area. From 1444 the
Augustinians can be proven to have owned some grounds in the Prater.
The Jesuits later inherited two properties in the Prater; the Jesuit
meadow reminds of this. In 1560 Archduke Maximilian (emperor from
1564) tried to acquire many of these grounds in order to create a
contiguous, fenced-in hunting area. (Hunts took place in the Prater
until 1920; the last stag was shot in 1880.) As poachers kept
roaming around in the Prater, entering Rudolf II was made a
punishable offense. This ban was repeated again and again because it
was hardly followed.
At that time, the Prater was used
exclusively for hunting by the respective monarch and his court. The
main hunted were snipes, badgers, foxes, wolves, wild boars, brown
bears and deer. Finally, Empress Maria Theresa allowed selected
members of the nobility - usually regular participants in the
imperial redoubts - to enter the Prater. Only the main avenue and
some side paths were allowed to be walked or driven on by carriages.
With the exception of the ladies' lap dogs, dogs were strictly
The Prater was repeatedly hit by warlike events.
During the Thirty Years' War, the main leader of the Bohemian
uprising, Heinrich Matthias von Thurn, attacked the city of Vienna.
When some of his soldiers broke into the Prater, they were driven
away by the local hunters. When Swedish troops under Lennart
Torstensson advanced as far as Vienna in April 1645, the forest
masters and hunters of the Prater set up a defensive position.
During the second Turkish siege in 1683, Ottoman troops fought in
On April 7, 1766, Emperor Joseph II,
as Maria Theresa's co-regent, released the Prater for general use.
This decree was announced in official German in the Wienerisches
“It will be made known to everyone what you
measure. emperor. Majest. Out of the most gentle affection for the
local public, they have most graciously resolved and decreed that in
future and from now on, at all times of the year and at all hours of
the day, without distinction, everyone in the Bratter as well as in
the city estate should be free walking, riding, and driving, not
only in the main avenue, but also in the side avenues, meadows and
squares (which are all too remote places and thick forests, only
excepted because of mischief and abuse that might otherwise have to
be worried) Also, no one should be forbidden to divert oneself there
by hitting balloons, cones, and other permitted conversations: but
be careful that no one will indulge in such freedom, which is most
gracious to the public, some impossibility, or to undertake
otherwise unauthorized debauchery, and then to the utmost
displeasure to give ß. Vienna, April 7, 1766. "
From now on,
a large number of people visited the Prater, especially on Sundays
and public holidays. The area could not be entered on Sunday until
ten o'clock in order not to compete with the Sunday morning service.
In the evening three gunshots signaled that the Prater had to be
left. Joseph II also approved the settlement of coffee makers and
hosts; the foundation stone for the creation of the Wurstelprater
amusement park. The Prater became a center of entertainment and (in
its peripheral areas near the Wurstelprater) also of prostitution.
In 1771, the Italian Peter Paul Girandolini organized a large
fireworks display in the Prater in front of around 10,000 people for
the first time. Two years later the German Johann Georg Stuwer moved
to Vienna and in 1773 received the privilege to carry out fireworks.
Immediately north of the exhibition street, on a meadow that was
soon to be called the fireworks meadow, he erected a large wooden
scaffolding on which his pyrotechnic articles were mounted, as well
as stands for the public. In the following years a regular
competition developed between the "German fireworks" Stuwers and the
"Welschen fireworks" Girandolini. Stuwer usually had the public
favor on his side, also because he always organized it on the then
favorable Friday, while Girandolini on the less favorable Sunday. In
addition, Stuwer impressed his audience with an enormous volume. A
contemporary report reported:
"At this end he had ready: 200
bombs, 100 murder strikes, 80 cannon strikes, 150 cartoons, 300
rounds of peloton fire, 48 cords, 600 rockets, and 3 charged
Stuwer got rich through his events. With an
audience of up to 25,000 people, he took in up to 6,000 guilders per
fireworks in good weather. He performed for the last time on
September 29, 1799 and died three years later at the age of 70.
Stuwer was considered a "landmark of Vienna"; the Stuwerstraße and
the Stuwerviertel in Leopoldstadt were named after him. Several
successors continued the fireworks. In the course of preparations
for the 1873 World's Fair, however, the fireworks scaffolding and
the grandstands had to be removed in 1871 by order of the
authorities. The owner Anton Stuwer, a great-grandson of Johann
Georg Stuwer, received only 60 guilders as compensation. Stuwer gave
up fireworks, and as a result, fireworks were only occasionally held
in the Prater.
In 1774, the bars around the site, which were
locked at night, disappeared, and from then on the Prater could be
entered at any time.
In 1780 the Fugbach, a very narrow arm
of the Danube that flowed around the western part of today's
Praterstern, was filled in; the Fugbachgasse between Nordbahnstrasse
and Heinestrasse reminds of this. In 1782, a crossroads at the
north-western end of the Prater, after the construction of further
streets in the then largely undeveloped area, became a star-shaped
square. Seven avenues emanate from this Praterstern, two of which -
the main avenue and the exhibition street - lead into or delimit the
Prater, and one, today's Heinestrasse, continues the main avenue in
the direction of Augarten.
Between 1781 and 1783, Isidore
Canevale built the baroque pavilion Lusthaus at the southeast end of
the main avenue. A hunting lodge had previously stood at this point,
which was called Casa verde or green pleasure house (first mention
that has survived to this day in 1560). The Lusthaus was the meeting
point and stage of elegant life in Vienna and was also regularly
visited by the emperor.
On May 10, 1784, the English equestrian Charles
Hyam attempted to ascend in a manned hot air balloon in the Prater.
The company turned out to be a hoax, only an unmanned tethered
balloon was raised. On July 6th, 1784, the fireworker Johann Georg
Stuwer managed to climb the fireworks site with a hot-air tethered
balloon, which is considered the beginning of manned aviation in
Austria. Stuwer performed several other balloon ascents in front of
a paying audience. During the third ascent on August 2, 1784, the
tether broke, so that the balloon floated over the Danube and only
came to the ground there. Nobody was injured, and on that day Stuwer
unintentionally carried out the first balloon flight over Austria.
Around 1786, three coffee houses were built on Hauptallee, which
soon became very popular. They were called the First, Second, and
Third Coffee House. The first coffee house was located on what is
now an undeveloped area south of the "Schweizerhaus". It initially
offered classical music performances; Beethoven played here in 1814,
Joseph Lanner in 1824. Later, various exhibitions were offered, such
as B. Arabic dances and chants. Business was bad for many years,
however, the coffee house changed hands 21 times from 1854 to 1938,
was then closed and burned in 1945.
The second coffee house
was even bigger than the first and was considered rather posh. The
main entertainment was waltz music; In 1844 Johann Strauss son
played here. The brothers Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss performed
in 1866 with a 60-strong band. In addition to the main building,
there was an “octagonal salon”, a billiard room, a “sideboard”, a
large salon with its own orchestra, four other salons and a winter
garden. In 1945 the restaurant burned down and today there is a
The third coffee house was also managed in
winter. Large parties were often held here, at which Strauss and
Lanner also played. In 1871 the coffee house was converted into a
"Singspieltheater" with a room for 5,000 people. After two
bankruptcies, Anton Ronacher took over the restaurant in 1877 and
performed operettas and variety shows. From 1896 onwards, speaking
pieces, etc. a. by Nestroy, commanded. In 1920 the third coffee
house burned down, but was rebuilt. In 1945 it was damaged, in 1962
it had to make way for the "Brunswick Bowling Hall".
the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard tried to carry out the first
planned free flight of a balloon in Austria. The start attempts
failed on two days. The audience felt cheated about his entrance fee
and Blanchard had to be brought to safety from the angry crowd by
the police. On July 6, 1791, he managed the journey that led from
the Prater to Groß-Enzersdorf. In the decades that followed,
countless airmen carried out balloon ascents, with Stuwer's
fireworks site almost always serving as the starting point.
In 1807 the watchmaker Jakob Degen designed a flying machine with
movable wings that was powered by muscle power. Degen realized that
the lift that could be achieved in this way was insufficient and
made do with a hydrogen-filled auxiliary balloon, which generated
around half of the lift required for flying. On November 13, 1808,
he managed the first controlled free flight over the Prater. Eight
years later, Degen designed a clockwork propeller. This world's
first (unmanned) helicopter model reached a height of 160 meters in
the Prater in 1816.
On June 6th, 1808, the Circus gymnasticus
(Circus Bach) of the k.k. Art rider Christoph de Bach (1768–1834)
opened.  The (probably) designed by Joseph Kornhäusel (1782-1860)
(and originally executed in wood) building existed until 1852. The
building, which was auctioned in 1850 and in May 1851 by Joseph
Freiherrn von Dietrich (1780-1855) with a view to a renovation had
been auctioned and temporarily used, had to be canceled by the end
of August 1852, according to the privilege, which had become
obsolete due to the death of the heiress, Laura de Bach († 1851)
(previously issued by Emperor Franz II).
In the fall of 1824 a 227.5 m long horse-drawn
railway was built in the Prater as a test route, which experimented
with several materials for the tracks. The short railway line also
served the builder Franz Anton von Gerstner to find interested
parties and sponsors for a railway line from Linz to Budweis. In
1825 the construction of the Budweis-Linz horse-drawn railway
actually began; the “Schaubahn” in the Prater was dismantled again.
In 1832 the lower course of the Danube Canal was regulated
southeast of today's Ostbahnbrücke. From here to the main stream
near Albern, a dead straight bed was dug for the canal. As a result,
the area of the Freudenau horse racing track, which opened in
1839, moved from the right, Kaiserebersdorfer, to the left,
Leopoldstadt bank of the Danube Canal since 1850. This no longer
flowed past the Lusthaus: Lusthauswasser and Mauthnerwasser have
been oxbow lakes ever since.
In 1834 the optician Peter
Wilhelm Friedrich von Voigtländer built a short stretch in the
Prater that was not provided with rails, but was to be operated by
steam bus. The line acted as a trial run for a planned Vienna –
Pressburg line. On October 26, 1834, Voigtländer drove the vehicle
in the Hauptallee in front of 15,000 spectators. The project was
ultimately not implemented.
In 1839 the Freudenau horse
racing track was opened in the Prater. The grandstands were built in
1858 and inaugurated in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph I. They
were designed by the architect Carl Hasenauer and built by his
brother, the court carpenter Christoph Hasenauer. The first Austrian
derby took place in 1868. In 1870, the court grandstand designed by
the Budapest architect Adolf Feszty was built.
middle of the 19th century, the imperial-royal Prater rides have
taken place every year on May 1st, becoming one of the most
important unofficial celebrations for the imperial family, the upper
and lower nobility and the people. In her 1932 memoir “In the
Splendor of the Imperial Era”, Princess Nora Fugger described the
pomp and exuberance of this spectacle along Praterallee in detail:
“The crowds grew thicker and thicker. Soon the first wagons
arrived, mostly light, flower-adorned vehicles, unnumbered fiakers.
They followed each other in increasingly narrow spaces. In between
archdukes and archduchesses in their splendid bodies with
gold-rimmed wheels, coachmen and lackeys in galalivreen and coach
box and resignation. The members of the Kaiserhaus drove to the
Kaisergarten, which was located on the left hand side of the
entrance to the Prater and was locked. There was a pavilion in which
the emperor gave a gala dinner every year on May 1st at 3 pm,
exclusively for members of the imperial family and any guests from
ruling houses. "
In the course of the revolution of 1848
there were fighting in the Prater. On October 25, 1848 there was
fighting around the pleasure house, whereby the revolutionaries
under General Józef Bem were initially able to push back the
imperial troops. On October 28, however, imperial and Croatian
soldiers overran the Prater and subsequently the city.
zoologists Gustav Jäger and Alexander Ussner built the Tiergarten am
Schüttel in the Prater near the Franzensbrücke in 1863 (see
Schüttelstrasse; the Tiergartenstrasse branching off from it - not
at its former location - reminds of this). The zoo was based on the
latest scientific findings; the animals should be housed in an
environment appropriate to their natural habitat. Friedrich Knauer
was the director. In 1864 the zoo had 230,000 visitors. In 1866,
however, it had to close for economic reasons; the investors August
Graf Breuner and Johann Nepomuk Wilczek had miscalculated. The brief
revival from 1894–1901 had little success.
From the year
1868, the concrete plans for the Viennese Danube regulation began,
which now after decades of discussion actually pending. Three
possible variants for a new river bed had been available for a long
time: a variant remote from the city, which roughly followed the
course of the Old Danube and would therefore have been inexpensive
to manufacture, a variant close to the city, in which the Danube
would have flowed at the Praterstern, and a medium variant . The
variant close to the city would have been the cheapest in terms of
transport, since a river port could have been built near the city
center. However, this version would have destroyed a large part of
the Praterau recreation area and was therefore rejected. The middle
variant was finally built. Work began in 1870, on April 14, 1875,
water was let into the new stream bed, and on May 30, 1875 the
ceremonial opening took place by Emperor Franz Joseph I.
Due to the regulation, especially due to the now
higher flow speed and the deepening of the river, the meadow
landscape changed. The water table sank and the original vegetation
of the floodplain disappeared. Remnants of it are only preserved in
the southeastern part of the Prater. The creation of the new river
bed turned several of the previous arms of the Danube into oxbow
lakes (standing water).
From the beginning of February 1868
the award-worthy architectural designs (which were still created
regardless of the upcoming electricity regulation) for the Third
German Federal Shooting, scheduled between July 26 and August 2,
1868 between Hauptallee and the (already regulated) Danube Canal
(k.k. Unterer Prater), were publicly exhibited. As a result, the
plans submitted by the architect Moritz Hinträger (1831–1909) were
implemented (in a modified form) on the almost 60 hectare
fairground. The fenced-off terrain (which extends east to today's
Stadionallee) was developed in terms of transport in the north from
the First Rondeau of Hauptallee (today: intersection Hauptallee /
Meiereistraße) and in the west from a shipping pier in the Danube
Since 1870, about 200 meters from the end of the
main avenue near the Lusthaus, a bridge of the Ostbahn has crossed
the road, which interrupts the embankment that runs from Simmering
towards Stadlau. Today trains to northern and eastern Lower Austria
as well as to Brno, Prague, Krakow and Pressburg run over it and the
Stadlauer Bridge that adjoins the Danube.
May 1st to November 2nd, 1873, the World Exhibition was held in
Vienna, which was frequented by 7.25 million visitors, but caused a
deficit of 14.9 million guilders. The exhibition area was developed
with driveways and generous parking spaces. Street names such as
exhibition street, Perspektivstraße, Rotundenallee, access street,
Südportalstraße and Nordportalstraße still indicate this today. In
the course of the construction of the exhibition building, around
two million square meters of forest were cleared and several rivers
and floodplains were filled in.
For the world exhibition, a
large area with exhibition halls was laid out in the Prater, with
the rotunda in the center. In its time it was by far the largest
dome in the world with a diameter of 108 m.
Almost all the
buildings of the world exhibition were demolished over time. The
rotunda remained in operation for more than sixty years, but fell
victim to a (possibly laid) fire on September 17, 1937. Only two
pavilions from the world exhibition are still preserved today. They
are located between the Krieau harness racing track and the Ernst
Happel Stadium, serve as the federal government's sculpting studios
and are now called Prater studios. The southern pavilion dates back
to 1873, the northern one was destroyed in the Second World War, but
With the excavation from the construction of the
world exhibition building, the Constantine Hill was raised. It was
named after the chief steward of Emperor Franz Joseph I, Konstantin
zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst (1828-1896), who had been involved in
the construction management of the world exhibition because the
imperial family owned part of the property.
The little duck
pond was created next to the Constantine Hill. On the hill was the
elegant Konstantinhügel café and restaurant, built by the hotelier
Eduard Sacher. In the 1970s, an artist group tried to revitalize the
now run-down restaurant; it was then destroyed by (alleged) arson in
1977. Below the Constantine Hill was the Hirschenstadl, where deer
and roe deer were kept until 1867. In the immediate vicinity of the
Constantine Hill is the listed Konstantinsteg, which is structurally
the oldest still existing bridge in Vienna.
As part of the
world exhibition in 1873, a show aquarium was built and named
Vivarium. It was located on the western edge of the Prater on
today's Vivariumstrasse. In 1903 it was converted into an
experimental biological research institute under the zoologist Hans
Leo Przibram. This research facility was one of the most remarkable
scientific institutions in Austria until 1938. For more than thirty
years, innovative scientific work in the field of experimental
biology was created there.
In 1874 the Wiener Trabrenn-Verein was founded
with Count Kálmán Hunyady as its first president. The races were
initially held in Hauptallee, but the construction of a permanent
racetrack began shortly afterwards. On September 29, 1878, between
Hauptallee and Handelskai, the Krieau trotting track, which is now
adjacent to the new building for the Vienna University of Economics
and Business and the stadium, was opened, and the first grandstand
was built in 1882. After the original wooden grandstand was showing
its age, it was renewed from 1912 to 1913 by the architects Emil
Hoppe, Marcel Kammerer and Otto Schönthal. The judges' tower as the
last component was not built until after the First World War in
For the workers, the Prater was a popular parade ground
after the labor movement grew stronger: Austria's first May parade
took place on May 1, 1890 in Hauptallee, noted throughout Europe.
A forerunner of the later Liliputbahn in the Prater was the
so-called "Schnackerlbahn", which ran around 1890 from the Venediger
Au, where the Circus Busch was located, to the later south portal of
the Wiener Messe with the rotunda. The reason for its establishment
was the agriculture, forestry, industry and art exhibition. The
success was so great that the builder, Josef Bierenz, had the
operating permit extended three times.
In 1896, the Vienna
Athletic Sports Club built a sports facility for football between
Rustenschacherallee and Spenadlwiese, then called Pratersportplatz
and now called WAC-Platz. The field is considered to be the oldest
football field in Austria that still exists in its original form. In
addition to the soccer field, the facility included eight grass
tennis courts, a running track and a cycle track. Today the course
is still playable, but relatively desolate.
1921 the city's own exhibition company built the exhibition center
on the site of the World Exhibition in 1873, where the Vienna
International Fair (spring fair, autumn fair) was held twice a year.
The rotunda was also available for trade fairs until 1937; but it
was too large and costly to maintain. After the fire in the rotunda
- which was very favorable for those responsible - the exhibitions
took place exclusively in the modern pavilions of the exhibition
grounds. In 1942 the Vienna Trade Fair was stopped due to the war.
In 1945 the exhibition grounds, like the Wurstelprater, were
destroyed in the battle of the Red Army against the Wehrmacht and
the SS, but were soon rebuilt.
The Maria Grün pilgrimage
church was inaugurated in the Prater on December 21, 1924. The
church furnishings came from Langenlois. In the following years
numerous pilgrimages to Maria Grün were carried out, the peak value
was reached in 1937 with 72 pilgrimages. The church is hidden in the
alluvial forest; it is located 370 meters northeast of the Lusthaus
and can be reached from Aspernallee.
Construction of the
narrow-gauge Liliputbahn began in 1927 and was opened on May 1,
1928. Two steam locomotives of the type Martens’sche
Einheitsliliputlok from Krauss & Co., Munich, were bought for
operation. The route originally led from the Ferris wheel through
meadows and wooded areas to the rotunda, in 1933 it was extended by
around 2.5 kilometers to the Prater Stadium.
To mark the
centenary of Franz Schubert's death, the German Singers Association
was held in Vienna from July 19 to 23, 1928 (Schubert Zentenar
Celebration). For this occasion, a huge wooden hall was built on the
Jesuitenwiese in the Prater, at that time the largest wooden hall in
the world. The structure was 182 m long and 110 m wide; it offered
space for 93,000 people (33,000 singers and 60,000 listeners). After
the end of the event, the hall was dismantled.
there was still a wooded area in Krieau (southeast of Meiereistraße
and northeast of Prater-Hauptallee) called Rondeaumais, bounded by
the playground of the Vienna Golf Club. In 1928, the city
administration of Red Vienna began building the stadium pool here.
The bath was built according to plans by Otto Ernst Schweizer and
opened in 1931 together with the Prater Stadium.
beginning of October 1928, North of the Gaswerksteg on the
Birkenwiese, Minister of Education Richard Schmitz (1885–1954)
opened what was then the largest school playground in the country -
today: the Birkenwiese National Playground.
In November 1928,
the city administration also laid the foundation stone for the
Prater Stadium; on July 11, 1931 it was opened on the occasion of
the 2nd Workers' Olympiad, a major manifestation of social
democracy. At that time it was considered the most modern stadium in
Europe, especially because of its short emptying time of only seven
to eight minutes. Initially it had a capacity of around 60,000
On January 8, 1930, the planetarium was opened on
the Praterstern directly in front of the entrance to the
Wurstelprater, which had previously been set up in 1927/1928 on
Maria-Theresien-Platz. The octagonal wooden structure by Robert
Oerley had a then ultra-modern Zeiss Model II projector. The
astronomer Oswald Thomas was the initiator and first director of the
planetarium; the place in front of today's planetarium, which opened
in 1964, is called Oswald-Thomas-Platz in his honor.
September 11, 1933, Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, who had already
ruled in an authoritarian manner without a National Council, gave a
speech at the Trabrennplatz in the Prater at the Trabrennplatz in
the Prater, in which he advocated the establishment of a "social,
Christian, German state of Austria based on estates and strong
authoritarian leadership" as his goal formulated.
In the last
third of the Second World War, there were bombing raids on Vienna;
An underground air raid shelter was built in the Kaisergarten near
the Praterstern. In the course of the Battle of Vienna from April
6th to 13th, 1945 there was heavy fighting in the Prater between the
6th Panzer Division of the German Wehrmacht and the XX. Guards Rifle
Corps of the Red Army. The fighting resulted in massive damage:
The vivarium was destroyed and not rebuilt.
The part of the
Wurstelprater north of the exhibition street, the Venediger Au with
the striking Circus Busch, was completely razed to the ground; the
area was converted into a park by the city of Vienna after the war.
The Wurstelprater, the planetarium, the northern Prateratelier and
the buildings on the exhibition grounds were also destroyed, but
The Ferris wheel, the Freudenau horse racing track, the
Krieau trotting track, the Lusthaus, the southern Prateratelier, the
Maria Grün church, the Liliputbahn, the stadium pool and the Prater
stadium were damaged but repaired.
Only a shooting gallery, a
carousel and a restaurant remained undamaged in the Wurstelprater.
1946 until today
The repair of the Prater, which was now in
the Soviet-occupied sector of Vienna until 1955, lasted until 1953.
In the process, 353 bomb craters, 982 foxholes, nine trenches and 24
fragmentation trenches were counted and largely eliminated. 548
vehicles destroyed in the battle had to be towed away. In the
following years around half of the remaining Prater waters were
destroyed through drainage, landfills and industrialization.
At the beginning of the 1960s, the research reactor of the Atomic
Institute of the Austrian Universities, now part of the Technical
University, was built on the edge of the Prater at the stadium
bridge over the Danube Canal (Prater reactor). The first chain
reaction was initiated on March 7, 1962. The nuclear reactor is not
used for energy supply, but for research and the training of
students. Currently (2013) there are 36 scientists, 29
non-scientific employees and around 80 other researchers as guests.
Around half of the TU's physics graduates do their master's, diploma
or doctoral theses at the Prater reactor. Since 1962, around 100,000
visitors - mostly school classes - have visited the reactor.
In 1962, the Wiener Schnellbahn and its Praterstern station went
into operation. The Prater was now directly accessible by public
transport from some parts of the city and from the northern and
southern environs of Vienna.
On the occasion of the opening
of the newly built planetarium, which is now directly adjacent to
the Ferris wheel, on June 20, 1964, local history researcher Hans
Pemmer donated his extensive collection of exhibits from the Prater
to the Wien Museum, which then set up the Prater Museum in an
adjoining building of the planetarium. Until 1972, a cinema, "Studio
2", was operated in the planetarium.
In 1965 the Pratersauna
was built between the exhibition grounds and the main avenue. It
became a meeting place for the "semi-public", including the Russian
mafia, and at times served as a swinger club. In 2008/2009 it was
converted into a “hot spot” with a discotheque while retaining the
1960s architecture and the outdoor swimming pool.
In 1970 one of the first sections of the
Südosttangente, the most heavily traveled motorway in Austria, was
opened across the middle section of the Prater - a major
intervention in the Prater's landscape structure. In the 1970s, the
private car traffic in the main avenue was largely stopped.
In 1981 the newly built underground line U1 reached the Praterstern.
The Prater was thus connected to the emerging Vienna underground
The Vienna City Marathon has been running through
Prater-Hauptallee every spring since 1984.
In the years
1992–1998, the Danube power plant Freudenau was built near the
southern tip of the Danube Island, which is now formed by the 2nd
and 20th districts. The right Danube dam was raised; However, the
dam is permeable, so that groundwater can continue to penetrate into
the area of the Prater. The groundwater level can be regulated by
a system of injection wells, whereby the seasonal fluctuations of
the water level are simulated. This led to a desired increase in the
groundwater level. However, the groundwater no longer flows through
the gravel and is therefore not filtered, so that the Prater waters
are increasingly cloudy due to algal blooms. In 2007 a filter system
was installed to reduce the problem.
The facilities on the
exhibition grounds that no longer meet today's requirements were
demolished in 2001. A new trade fair and congress center was built
on the northern part of the site in 2001-2004, consisting of four
halls, a few outbuildings and a striking tower. The architect was
Gustav Peichl, the costs of the city administration amounted to 192
million euros. A hotel and a car park were built next to the
exhibition center. The new building for the Vienna University of
Economics and Business was built on the southern part of the site in
In the years 2005–2007 the Vienna Praterstern
train station was redesigned. In 2008, the U2 underground line was
extended from the city center to the Praterstern, the exhibition
center and the stadium. From 2008, the Praterstern surrounding the
train station was also redesigned according to plans by Boris
Podrecca. It was given a large awning roof as protection from the
weather and was equipped with various design elements; the cost was
around 30 million euros.
At the Krieau U2 station on the
northeastern edge of the Prater, an area called Viertel Zwei by the
initiators was developed in 2007-2010, which includes various office
and residential buildings as well as a hotel. The total cost was 360
The Vienna University of Economics and
Business was housed in the University Center Althanstrasse in the
9th district from 1992–2013. Since 2009 a new WU campus has been
built on the southern part of the former exhibition center. The
business university moved here entirely in the summer of 2013. The
campus is located immediately southwest of the halls of Messe Wien.
It consists of a large number of buildings that are grouped around a
central “Library and Learning Center”. There are 65,000 m² of
publicly accessible open space in the area. The construction costs
of the WU campus were projected at EUR 518 million.
Today the Prater is a popular excursion and
recreation area. There is a very large number of sports facilities
scattered all over the Prater. a. for soccer, baseball, land hockey,
tennis, golf, disc golf on the Prater Parcours, running, horse
riding, swimming, bowling and skateboarding; in winter,
cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating are possible.
The green area of the Prater has been reduced in size in many
places over the years (see Pratercottage), a development that
continues unabated today. About 3.1 km from the Praterstern, the
six-lane city motorway A23, known as the south-east bypass, has been
crossing the main avenue and the Heustadelwasser in high altitude
since 1970. The most frequented motorway in Austria today was led
over a previously particularly quiet part of the Green Prater.
The core area of the Prater is a car-free zone, as
is the second quarter. The streets in the peripheral area and the
Meiereistraße – Stadionallee street are available for private
The northwestern part of the Prater,
especially the Wurstelprater, is within walking distance of the
Praterstern with the underground lines U1 and U2, all lines of the
S-Bahn main line, the tram lines 5 and O and the bus lines 5B and
The northern part of the Prater is served by the
underground line U2 (stations Messe-Prater, Krieau and Stadion) and
the bus lines 11A and 82A. The central part of the Prater is (as of
spring 2013) served by the S80 S-Bahn (Praterkai station) and the
77A line; it crosses the main avenue in the course of the
Stadionallee, then serves the northeastern edge of the Prater and
has its terminus at the Lusthaus at the end of the main avenue.
Lines 79B and 80B go to the southern part of the Prater. The
south-west edge is reached in the north and middle part of the line
80A, which runs on Schüttelstrasse.
From the west, tram line 1, coming from the 1st
and 3rd district, leads over Rotundenbrücke and Rotundenallee to
Hauptallee. (The Rotunda once stood on the Kaiserallee branching off
there; today the University of Economics and Business is located
here.) The 4A bus line from the Karlsplatz subway junction also runs
through the Rotunda Bridge and has its terminus there.
the Prater, the Liliputbahn runs from the Wurstelprater near the
Praterstern via the Schweizerhaus – Luftburg and Rotunde stops to
the Stadion station. The tourist train runs in the Wurstelprater.