The Galopprennbahn Freudenau is one of two racecourses in the second district of Vienna, the Leopoldstadt. The other one is the Trabrennbahn Freudenau, the latter one being for harness racing. Both of these horse race courses can be found in the Prater area, the former Habsburg Hunting grounds that were opened to the general public by Emperor Joseph II in 1766. The Prater Hauptallee became a popular site for horse races, which is the main reason why both of the "proper" race courses were built nearby.
The Galopprennbahn Freudenau is the older one of the two. It was opened in 1839 and was uniformly built in Historicist style (which is largely due to later extensions, as the art historians among my readers might have thought already). The Galopprennbahn comprises of the race course as such and five tribunes for spectators.
Architecture of the Galopprennbahn
Four of the five tribunes use a lot of cast iron. They were opened in 1858 by Emperor Franz Joseph I. The tribunes were designed by the famous Ringstraßen architect Carl Hasenauer and built by his brother Christoph. The first Austrian Derby was held at the Galopprennbahn in 1868. The fifth tribune was built until 1887. The architect in charge was Josef Drexler; the construction was necessary because of a devastating fire in 1883. A few additional building were erected at the same time.
During allied bomb campaigns in World War Two, the race course was damaged once again, this time rather badly. It was with the help of the United Kingdom that the Galopprennbahn was fixed up again so that it could re-open soon after the end of the war. In 1967, the Republic of Austrian purchased the Galopprennbahn and thus nationalised it. This was the age of large-scale nationalisations, strangely under a conservative chancellor (Klaus).
Between 1975 and 1977, some land that belonged to the Galopprennbahn was used for the construction of a motorway. Between 1983 and 1986, significant renovations took place. And in 1996, the Galopprennbahn was privatised again; this was the age of the Washington Consensus, strangely under a Social Democratic chancellor (Vranitzky).
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