The former floodplains on the banks of the Danube were originally the Emperor's hunting ground. Joseph II, son of Maria Theresia, took the first step to making the area a recreation and entertainment district in 1776 when he donated the land to the citizens of Vienna and also approved the set-up of food stands. It did not take long for bars, shooting galleries, and carousels to move in, but the Prater didn’t become a major attraction until the World Exhibition of 1873.
Instead of classic carousels and ghost rides, today's entertainment options mostly consist of roller coasters and loop rides that carry screeching passengers up to airy heights. The carousel barkers are gone, and their call “Come one, come all,” is hardly heard anymore, but the memory of the Viennese Prater of the early 20th lives on in the hidden old carousels and in the figure of the "Calafati", also called "the great Chinaman." The giant statue is a remnant of an old carousel’s centerpiece, which was owned by the innkeeper Basilio Calafati and has become one of the Prater's landmarks. Joachim Król jumps on for a ride on the gigantic figure.
The Prater is now dominated by the large tower of the chain carousel opened in 2010, and of course by the old-fashioned Vienna Ferris wheel, our last stop for today. This Viennese landmark was built in 1897 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Franz Joseph I’s reign. At the time, it was one of the world's tallest Ferris wheels. We are given a pod of our own for a few turns of the wheel to film the impressive views over the city. “I am glad we're going to come back again,” says Joachim Król. We will revisit Vienna later this year - this time with Mavie Hörbiger, who played the role of Julie’s friend Marie in "Liliom" a few years ago.
Following our journey into the past of the two cities on the Danube, Budapest and Vienna, we are now on our way back home. Soon, we will see Joachim Król again in a record store in Cologne, where he will share more about his passion for music and his recollection of hearing the famous soccer anthem for the first time…