One of Vienna’s trademark sights is the Riesenrad or giant ferris wheel located at the start of the Prater amusement park. Impressive in its own right, it acquired global fame by featuring in several movies, most notably The Third Man with Orson Welles.
The original ferris wheel was erected in 1897, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Josef. The designer was an Englishman named Walter Basset, who’d already honed his engineering skills building a ferris wheel for London.
Like a lot of Viennese attractions, the wheel didn’t survive WWII intact. It burnt down in 1944, but was soon rebuilt and returned to operation in 1947, albeit with fewer wagons.
The whole structure weighs over 430 tonnes and has a diameter of just under 61 meters or exactly 200 feet (a relic of the original English design!) It turns slowly, but surely, at a pace of 2.7 km/h (2 mph).
The Riesenrad is open year-round, the exact hours depending on the season.
You can buy single-ride tickets, but there are also various combination tickets with other Prater attractions (see the wheel’s website for the alternatives).
For those of you looking for a touch of style, you can also arrange a dinner or event for two to twelve people while you enjoy ever-changing views of Vienna. As well as the standard 19th-century wagons, there are a couple of luxury alternatives available for hire.
Address: Wiener Riesenrad, Prater 90, 1020 Vienna