The Wiener Riesenrad (German for “Viennese giant wheel”), or Riesenrad, is a 64.75-metre (212 ft) tall Ferris wheel at the entrance of the Prater amusement park in Leopoldstadt, the 2nd district of Austria’s capital Vienna. It is now one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions, and symbolises the district as well as the city for many people.
It was built and erected in 1897 by the English engineer Lieutenant Walter Bassett Bassett (1864-1907), Royal Navy, son of Charles Bassett (1834-1908), MP, of Watermouth Castle, Devon. Its purpose was to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I. The Riesenrad was one of the earliest Ferris wheels ever built. Walter Bassett’s ferris wheel manufacturing business was not a commercial success, and he died in 1907 almost bankrupt.
A permit for its demolition was issued in 1916, but due to a lack of funds with which to carry out the destruction, it survived.
It originally had 30 gondolas, but was severely damaged in World War II and when subsequently rebuilt only 15 gondolas were replaced.
The wheel is driven by a circumferential cable which leaves the wheel and passes through the drive mechanism under the base, and its spokes are steel cables, in tension.