Heustadelwasser: A Lake in Vienna
The Heustadelwasser ("hay barn water") is a lake in the second district of Vienna, the Leopoldstadt. More specific, the Heustadelwasser is a.) a dead branch of the Danube cut of from the main river centuries ago and b.) in the Prater area, the former Habsburg hunting grounds that were opened to the general public as a leisure area in 1766.
Today, the lake is still an important recreational zone with the illusion of nature attached to it. You can rent boats there, go for walks or go swimming. I write "illusion" because all of the Prater "wilderness" is strictly managed and far from being the natural floodplain forest it once was.
The Heustadelwasser was still connected to the Donaukanal until 1834; in the course of a river training campaign, it was cut off that route and thereby made a lake. Originally, the Prater Hauptallee took a detour around the Heustadelwasser, but this was changed in 1867. The name of the lake is derived from a hay barn that was built nearby to feed the deer – as I wrote above, the entire Prater area that makes up the 2nd and 20th districts of today′s Vienna were private hunting grounds for the Habsburg family and their court for centuries.
Activities around Heustadelwasser
Note that there is another, smaller lake nearby called Rosenwasser ("rose water", a bit of a serious euphemism if you ask me) that was once linked to the Heustadelwasser. The area is good for walks, several of the paths are "pedestrianised" (no cycling allowed). You can rent boats at the Heustadelwasser or enjoy the billions of mosquitoes that populate this area in early summer.
In general, the area is ideal for people who want to do a quick excursion to an area with a bit of greenery: The Prater is very accessible with public transport, as it occupies a very central part of Vienna. But then again, it is also rather crowded and far from being unspoilt nature. Picture the area around the Heustadelwasser to be more of a park than a floodplain forest. But then again, being a biologist, I might be just too picky about these things.
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