Today a vast amusement park (Lat.: pratum = meadow) in Vienna’s Second District, the Prater was sequestered as a hunting preserve by Emperor Ferdinand I in 1560. The chief thoroughfare through the complex, the Hauptallee, had been laid out in 1537. It was much prized by the Habsburgs, both for sport and for court festivals, though the terrain, originally very close to the Danube River, was prone to serious flooding. In 1766, Joseph II opened the area for public use. However, the Hauptallee long remained a passageway for the nobility and their retainers. Just north of this lay what is popularly called the Würstelprater (Sausage Prater), which Joseph also turned over to the more plebeian among his subjects as the Volksprater (People’s Prater) in 1786. By 1800, large numbers of people were making use of the park.
   Near one of Vienna’s main railway stations, the Würstelprater was completely destroyed at the end of World War II. Though rebuilt, it is considerably smaller than the original. The Prater’s emblematic landmark is the huge Ferris wheel. However, mechanical amusements are a comparatively small part of the park’s attractions. Much of it is reserved for walking, cycling, bathing, and the other pleasures of a warm summer day.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.


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