Riesenrad (Vienna)

FROM The man in the front seat / February 24, 2014

A visitor to Vienna is, sooner rather than later, going to hear about Emperor Franz Joseph whilst visiting the many sights Vienna has. Franz Joseph was Austrian Emperor from 1848 till his death in 1916. In preparing for his Golden Jubilee the state decided to build a Ferris Wheel to celebrate this milestone.

It wasn’t uncommon, large Ferris Wheels existed at that time in the US, Britain and France. Erected in 1897 it measured 80.4m (264ft) and had 30 cars or gondolas. When it was constructed the US, British and French wheels were all larger but by 1920 all the others had been demolished and the “Wiener Reisenrad” or “Viennese Giant Wheel” became the largest in the world, a title it held until 1985 when an 83m (274ft) wheel was built in Japan.

During WWI it was ordered to be demolished but the country didn’t have the funds to have it destroyed. WWII saw it severely damaged and when it was reconstructed only 15 of the original 30 gondolas were replaced, the same as it has today.

The wheel has featured in several films from Orson Wells, the Third Man, to Timothy Dalton as James Bond in the Living Daylights.

Definitely worth a visit.

Riesenrad (Vienna)
The Prater Park. Riesenrad at night
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