Here’s a short report at The Local about the restoration of the oldest stationary carousel in the world, in Hanau:
Commissioned by 1780 by Wilhelm I., Elector of Hesse, as part of the Wilhelmsbad park, the complicated ride has had a turbulent history.
“At the very beginning, the carrousel would have been pulled by local serfs,” said Eberhard Schmitt, a retired member of the carousel restoration association. Later the mechanism was powered by oxen, which allowed it to move faster.
“Back then the women in their narrow corsets fainted because of the speed that the oxen could turn the carrousel,” he laughed.
Visitors flocked to see the amusement ride, although not all could afford to experience its thrills, with one ride costing 24 Kreuzer, it was “more expensive than a night in the most expensive hotel,” according to Schmitt.
The carrousel was visited by many notable personalities, including King Wilhelm III of Prussia and Kaiser Franz II of Austria.
Work is expected to take two years. If you’re curious about the carousel, there’s a more detailed history in English here, with information about the mechanism which drove it and lots of photos. The project’s official website is available for wallowing here.
You’re aware, aren’t you, of what a carousel originally was? (I ask because I wasn’t, and was mystified by the huge courtyard in the Louvre that bears that name. Turns out it’s a circular parade of all the mounted units for inspection. So: horses going round and round! I think of this occasionally as I pass the one at the head of my street.
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