The Trabrennbahn Krieau is a racecourse for horse races in the second district of Vienna, the Leopoldstadt. It was opened in 1878 at the core of the recreational area that the Prater had become since its opening to the general public in the late 18th century. More specifically, the race course can be found in the Krieau, a stretch of land.
According to one interpretation, the name is derived from "Kriegsau" (war floodplain), referring to a struggle between the city of Vienna and the monastery of Klosterneuburg about the legitimate ownership of the land. I have my doubts this story is true, but contribute happily to its survival.
The modern Trabrennbahn race course is 1100 metres long and covered with sand. The tribunes for viewers were built after 1910 and among the first major constructions in Vienna that used steel-enforced concrete. Noteworthy is the VIP tribune with tile decorations in the style of the Wiener Werkstätte.
Some Trabrennbahn History
A few words on the history of the facility: Austria is definitely a country in which horses were a big deal for centuries; think of the Spanish Riding School, the prime example for formalised "horse culture". Nonetheless, I would not consider Austria to be particularly keen on racing horses (in comparison to, for example, England).
However, there is of course some tradition in horse races. In the case of the Trabrennbahn Krieau, this led to the formation of a horse race club in 1874. The first races were held at the Prater Hauptallee. A proper race course was opened in 1878, four years later the first tribunes were completed. The first derby at the Trabrennbahn Krieau was held in 1884.
Architectural details at the Trabrennbahn
The nice tribunes described above were built in the course of a major re-development phase between 1911 and 1913. The architects in charge were the then highly popular Emil Hoppe, Marcel Kammerer and Otto Schönthal.
During World War I, Ernst Graf Rüdiger von Starhemberg served as the president of the racing club. The son of one of the Habsburg Empire′s most esteemed high-ranking nobility was only one of many presidents whose pedigree illustrate that horse racing in Austria was like in most other countries a leisure of the aristocracy.
Main alterations to the outlay of the Trabrennbahn Krieau followed after the war in an attempt to fix up bomb damages; a modernisation in 1960/61; and another round of renovations and modernisations around 2000.
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