The Venediger Au ("Venetian Flood Plain Forest") is a park in the second district of Vienna, the Leopoldstadt. The Venediger Au is part of the wider Praterstern area and framed by this very Praterstern, a crescent-shaped street of the same name ("Venediger Au", that is) and the Ausstellungsstraße. The name was first mentioned in 1377, when the area was a piece of wilderness. It was referring to a section of flood plain forest near today′s Praterstraße. In 1569, a small settlement formed here, inhabited by lumberjacks and hunting wardens.
The latter ones are to be blamed for the area being re-named Jägerzeile ("Hunter′s Lane"), which shifted the name Venediger Au to its current "location". In the late 18th century, the Prater, formally a hunting ground for the Habsburg Court, was opened to the general public and became a popular recreational area. The Venediger Au developed to an amusement area alongside with the nearby Würstelprater opposite on the other side of the Ausstellungsstraße. The most famous amusement facility of the Venediger Au was "Zirkus Busch", a circus.
Venediger Au Since WWII
In its surroundings, huts with taverns, snacks and various amusements formed, which soon covered an area of almost 50,000 square metres. The vicinity of the Nordbahnhof became a problem during World War II, when bombs of the allies meant for the strategically important station hit the Venediger Au area instead. By 1945, the Wurstelprater was almost completely destroyed. The area was purchased by the city of Vienna, which decided to re-build the Wurstelprater, but only the part on the other side of the Ausstellungsstraße.
The Venediger Au became a park in 1949. It was equipped with sport venues and playgrounds. The Venediger Au has been a park ever since and today extends over an area of 7,610 square metres. It is one of the three corners of the Stuwerviertel, the infamous red light district of the Leopoldstadt. Far from being a sightseeing attraction, the Venediger Au area thus is still popular among visitors of the city – in case you get there, keep an eye of slowly cruising cars.
This is one of the few areas in Austria where you can still see street prostitution, generally of the lowest kind. Things are likely to improve in this area soon, though, accelerated by the development of an underground link to U2 (completed in 2008) and rapidly increasing real estate prices.
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