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(Giant Ferris Wheel)
Riesenrad - © Citype, E. Gaube

One of Vienna’s landmarks since its construction 105 years ago is the Wiener Riesenrad (Giant Ferris Wheel). This landmark, floating above the rooftops of the city, is easily a match for St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Riesenrad - © Citype, E. Gaube Riesenrad - © Citype, E. Gaube

The Riesenrad has always been typical. At its inception it was a popular attraction, being above “Venice in Vienna”. After the Second World War, the Riesenrad as well as St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Wiener Staatsoper, were among the first buildings and institutions to be reconstructed. It demonstrates the character of the city and the perseverance personifies the Viennese.

1897 The Riesenrad is constructed on the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I. Golden Jubilee and instantly becomes landmark of the Viennese skyline.
1898 To bring her family’s poverty to public attention, the Viennese Marie Kindl hanged herself out of the window of a carriage during a ride.
1914 Shooting a scene for a film, Madame Solange d’Atalide, a successful circus director and horsewoman, sat on her horse on the roof of a carriage while the Wheel made a circuit.
1916 Assignation for a judicial demolition permit, which was never attended to due to shortage of money.
Ab 1920 More and more US-American film producers use the Riesenrad, with its panorama of Vienna in the background, as a motif.
1944 The Riesenrad is ablaze.
1945 Reconstruction of the Riesenrad – at the same time as the reconstruction of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Staatsoper and the Burgtheater.
1947 Return to service.
1961 Acquisition of the Riesenrad by Dr. Karl Lamac.
© Copyright:
Vienna Riesenrad Austria
A new era
The Riesenrad now shines all night long.. From 1 May, it is a new landmark in the night sky above the roofs of Vienna. It has been newly covered in light by light-architect Patrick Woodroffe. Glowing in a mellow gold colour, the Riesenrad lives up to its name, while the pylons are bathed in cool and clear silver. Where previously fluorescent lights shone, now a warm, amber-coloured light dominates. In fact, because of the interplay with the adjacent buildings of the area, there is an impression of a golden light moving around the Giant Wheel. Not only is the new Riesenrad an artwork of light, it also features a visible benefit. As soon as it gets dark, the Riesenrad “strikes” the clock hour; always two minutes before the actual hour, the Wheel comes to “life” and flashes once for each hour of the clock – eight times at 20.00, nine times at 21.00. The Riesenrad is an immense light-clock, which can be seen almost anywhere in the city.

Riesenrad - © Citype, E. Gaube

Technical details

Measures and weight:

Highest point of the Riesenrad 64,75 m above the ground
Diameter of the wheel 60,96 m (=200 Engl. feet)
Outer diameter of the wheel construction 55,78 m
Inner diameter of the wheel construction 49,68 m
Axis of the Riesenrad 10.78m long, 0.5m thick, 16.3t in weight
Weight of the entire wheel construction 244,85 t
Total weight of all iron constructions 430,05 t
Speed 0,75 m/sec = 2,7 km/h

Number of carriages:

until 1944 30 carriages
from 1947 15 carriages for safety reasons.

The carriages bear the numbers 2, 4, 6 etc. to 30, carriage no. 30 has been equipped as a deluxe carriage since 1987.


Riesenrad - © Citype, E. Gaube
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