The Wiener Prater is a large public park in Vienna's 2nd district Leopoldstadt. Prater is derived from the Latin word pratum meaning meadow, possibly via Spanish prado. In 1162, the Emperor Friedrich I gave the land to a noble family called de Prato. The land changed hands frequently until it was bought by Emperor Maximilian II in 1560 to be a hunting ground. To deal with the problem of poachers, Emperor Rudolf II forbade entry to the Prater. On April 7 1766, Emperor Joseph II declared the Prater to be free for public enjoyment, and allowed the establishment of coffee-houses and cafés, which led to the beginnings of the Wurstelprater.
DeColange, Leo The Heart of Europe from the Rhine to the Danube (Boston, MA: Estes and Lauriat, Publishers, 1883)