Once the fiakers were Vienna’s taxi transport, but today they are mostly popular for special ceremonial use and as a tourist attraction
The German word ” Fiaker’ refer to both the two-horse cab itself and to the cabby, who is generally dressed in pepita-check trousers, a velvet jacket and derby hat.
Earlier, arriving at a fikaer was a prestige, and it was reserved for the wealthy. Some rules valid today. And it’s definitely one of the marvelous arrivals to the ball today.
A fiacre is a form of hackney coach, a horse-drawn four-wheeled carriage for hire. In Vienna such cabs are called
No matter how heavy the traffic in modern Vienna, there always is room for the horsedrawn cab known as the Fiaker.
Fiaker ranks are near the Imperial Palace, the State Opera and beside St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The well-kept vehicles and their picturesque drivers add an attractive bit of color to the Vienna street scene.
The fiaker cabs have a long history, which is recorded in the Fiakerhaus, a building that has belonged to the profession for a century. It now houses the fiaker museum and is located at Veronikagasse 12 in the 18th district.
The fiaker cabby has long been a respected person. In the museum, for instance, there is an oil painting showing the famous Aschenbrunner driving Czar Nicholas I of Russia through the gates of the Ballhausplatz in a fiaker.
The name fiaker actually comes from Paris, where cabs for hire were lined up outside the Auberge Saint Fiacre, an inn whose portal was decorated with a painting of the Irish monk, St. Fiacrius.
The first Viennese fiaker license was issued in 1693 during the reign of Leopold I. It specifically forbade cabbies to undertake journeys of more than four miles out of the city. Not until 1822 was this strange restriction lifted, but even then, no traveler could hire a cab without presenting proof of identity. There were other rules too. For instance, no passenger was permitted to carry a torch or lamp through a town or forest unless it was extinguished.
Today, a traditional use of the fiaker by the Viennese is at Confirmation, when youngsters are brought from St. Stephen’s to the Prater amusement park by horse-drawn cabs. They are frequently used to transport wedding parties. And for the ball, of course.
A fiaker ride is almost obligatory for the visitor to Vienna. Each cabby is well-versed in local history and is always delighted to tell visitors stories of the buildings they pass on their horse-drawn tour of his beloved city.