Riesenrad / 23.11.2011
The giant ferris wheel
Many major cities have high-rising architectural landmarks: Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Berlin the Fernsehturm, London the Big Ben, and Vienna the Riesenrad—a giant ferris wheel that towers over the city. Built in 1897 in honor of Emperor Franz Josef I by the English engineer Walter Basset, the Riesenrad has a dramatic history in line with its city. Open all year round, it is one of the most visited sights in Vienna. As a cultural landmark, the wheel has been featured in many films, including the city’s pride and joy, The Third Man (1949).
The red cabs bring visitors high over the city—an indescribable view of Vienna and the surrounding hills of the Viennese woods is guaranteed. With 15 restored cabins, two luxury cabins and two dining cabins (though we let them stick to what they’re best at: the view), the Riesenrad has cornered the market—that’s because it is one of the only city landmarks that is privately owned.
The City of Vienna commissioned the renovation of the Riesenrad’s square for the 2008 Football European Cup. The catastrophic result: a monstrously kitschy pseudo-historical construction and the impending insolvency of numerous subcontractors. Regardless, the Riesenrad still offers an unparalleled view of our beloved city.