The Latin expression for pasture or meadow is “pratum”. The term “Pratter” originates from a charter dated back to 1403. It was King Ferdinand I. who set his mind on planting an alley of chestnut trees that survives up to today and leads from the Praterstern to the Lusthaus. Soon afterwards the Prater became the hunting grounds for Maximilian II. and was fenced in. Predominantly deer, stags and pheasants were hunted.
The Prater remained imperial hunting grounds until 1766. But the Austrian Emperor Josef II. believed that this recreational area should serve all Viennese. A short time later the Prater gained the dimensions that distinguish it up to the present. The Wurstelprater as an amusement park and the food service industry both established themselves. The 1873 world fair took place within the area of the Prater and an incredible 53.000 exhibitors had a rendezvous there. As a result, the Prater was also internationally renowned.
People from all over the world visited the Prater. In the guidebooks it is praised as a must-see. It is not witchcraft to spend a whole day in the Prater. Time flies by. And in fact, there are a host of attractions that carry people up into the air. More are added frequently. It does not hurt to be free from giddiness. The spectacular opportunities provide great thrill. But it is the long-standing traditional establishments that can increase the joy immensely.
The Prater is more than the sum of its parts. It has grown and is still halfway in its development. Whoever immerses into the Prater can spend quiet hours in secluded alluvial forests and indulge in contemplation or try out every attraction of the Wurstelprater, eat and drink, whatever one’s heart desires. So, the Prater is the opposite of tedious. The occupation with the Prater’s history is a fascinating task, thereby maybe deepening the relationship with the Prater.
And what diversity the Prater offers to kids! They can run riot in the main avenue, be out and about in a variety of vehicles in the Wurstelprater. The Lilliputian train has a special status, which is a sort of connecting link between the Wurstelprater and the main avenue. Its route leads from the beginning of the main avenue to the “Stadion” station and back. Oh, and to think of the Prater-Punch! The Wurstelprater derives from the Hanswurst, a figure from the puppet theater, also called Wurstel.
In the early days of the Prater, when it was accessible to all people, the Viennese delighted in strolling along the main avenue. A tradition which will likely keep for all time. Only the end of the world could finish off the Prater.
© Jürgen Heimlich 2021-07-05