The Prater Park began its life, as so many European parks did, as a carriage-riding area for the nobility. It is still a popular place to spend a weekend afternoon with family.
An English engineering firm (Walter Basset) built the Giant Ferris Wheel (Riesenrad) from 1896-97. Others of the same era, built for world exhibitions and other parks in Chicago, London, Paris, etc. have long since been torn down. The Riesenrad has become a well-known symbol of Vienna, featured in many movies (most famously The Third Man; also Before Sunrise and Ethan Hawke) and picture postcards. It has 15 gondolas, some of which are incredibly ornate and large enough to host an extended family inside, offering a spectacular panorama of the city.
The weirdest attraction in the Prater, though, is the Kugelmugel www.republik-kugelmugel.com, a spherical house (diameter 7.68m) that, after failing to get a planning permit, declared independence from Austria. Originally built elsewhere, it was forcibly carted off to the Prater by Austrian authorities and now sits uninhabited and fenced off with barbed wire.
U1, tram O, 5, 21: Praterstern,
S1-S3, S7, S15: Wien Nord,
Tel: 729 54 30, www.prater.wien.info