In Vienna, Horse-Drawn Carriages Deliver Food to Locked Down Residents

A Fiaker near the Hofburg, with the city's Rathaus in the distance

By Anna Breuer on 9 April 2020
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Even though tourists are missing from the city center, the Fiaker – the city’s horse-drawn carriages that still connote fin-de-siècle Vienna – are out and about, delivering food prepared by the InterContinental Vienna’s kitchens to the city’s elderly.

The Fiaker have long been a fixture of the cityscape, drivers with bowler hats and formal dress offering tourists a unique glimpse of the city and the opportunity to – for the duration of the ride – become a part of the city’s majestic past.

The lockdown in Vienna means there are no guests in the city’s grand hotels, including the InterContinental, located adjacent to the Stadtpark and which, when it opened in 1964, was the first hotel belonging to an international chain to open in the city. It was also one of the city’s first skyscrapers.

Brigitte Trattner, the hotel’s general manager, said that the Fiaker drivers were the first to respond to the hotel’s call for volunteers.

A fiaker is a horse-drawn four-wheeled carriage for hire.  They are featured prominently in popular and classical music including in Gustav Pick’s song, the “Fiakerlied,” as well as in the operas of Johann Strauß II. In Richard Strauss’ opera “Arabella,” the second act takes place at the fiaker-drivers’ ball.

The volunteer drivers include Christian Gerzabek, who is a Stellvertreter in Vienna’s 13th district for the conservative ÖVP or People’s Party as well as several others.

Starting after Easter, the food deliveries will switch to medical staff on the night shift at a nearby hospital.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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