Austria – The famous ferris wheel that so nearly became scrap metal
Not many city’s boast a giant amusement park as one of their main attractions.
Fun fairs tend to come and go, marking an annual event – such as Munich’s Oktoberfest – or a one-off occasion.
And while London, for example, now boasts its Eye, that is surrounded by historic buildings rather than bumper cars and bowling alleys.
So Austria’s Wurstelprater is a rare find.
Open daily from March to October, the Wurstelprater is free to roam – although each attraction will charge its own fee.
It dates back to the Austrian Empire, when Emperor Josef II converted the Prater from a hunting ground to a public area in 1766.
Over the years everything from stalls to bumper cars, restaurants to carousels and roller coasters popped up on the Wurstelprater.
They accompany its most famous attraction of all; a ferris wheel called the Wiener Risenrad.
From 1920 until 1985, it stood as the world’s tallest ferris wheel – but it very nearly didn’t make it past 1916.
The wheel was constructed in 1897 by English engineer, Lieutenant Walter Bassett-Bassett, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I.
But it was not a commercial success and Bassett-Basset died in 1907, almost bankrupt. It struggled to such an extent that a permit for its demolition was issued in 1916.
The only reason the wheel survived was because there wasn’t enough money available to knock it down.
These days it is far more popular, offering spectacular views over the surrounding theme park and the city of Austria itself.
Some periods of austerity can have unforeseen success stories down the line.