The history of the Prater will not be completed for a long time. It has experienced an enormous time span with a lot still ahead. In the course of the centuries its face changed again and again. But the most important aspect is its continuing existence. It never came under threat of disappearing from the scene. Both World Wars gave it a hard time. But its fate is to delight people. And it does that unwaveringly. The Prater is a source of energy for a lot of people, a rejuvenation place. Elderly and old people sit there on the many benches in spring, summer and fall and enjoy the atmosphere of the Prater. They stay away from the bustle of the Wurstelprater, where mainly younger people let off steam and families take a break from daily life, school, kindergarten and their jobs. The Prater hides a monstrous story within; a very, very bulky volume to which a chapter is added year after year.
I am not worried about the Prater’s future. Because Vienna without the Prater would be like Salzburg without the castle Hohensalzburg, Graz without the clock tower and Innsbruck without the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof). Unimaginable, therefore. Whoever visits Vienna and does not include the Prater in their tour, misses out on the heart of Vienna. This heart beats in three quarter time. It is healthy and never gets thrown out of rhythm. The craziest events take place in the grounds of the Prater. It takes that with composure and smiles about it. The Prater is a world apart. A world where there is also hustle and bustle. First and foremost though, a world away from the hubbub. That is the peculiarity of the Prater. It implies contradictions and remains loveable.
The Prater remains what it is. It remains intrepid. And I will walk some of its way with it yet. One day the world will be a different one. Then the Prater will exist without me. For now, the Prater is part of my future. And when I stroll through the main avenue or rediscover the Wurstelprater, I leave my traces like many people before me and after myself. We lovers of the Prater are all connected by an invisible band. Without us, the Prater would not be alive. Because the Prater needs people. When the Prater goes into hibernation and is nearly devoid of people, it recuperates. It awakes in spring and people have kept faith with it. At the latest when the Schweizerhaus opens its season, the Prater is charged with energy and wide awake. And people can continue writing the stories of the Prater and report to posterity. Prater forever.
© Jürgen Heimlich 2021-11-28