In the area of Vienna there were already horse carriages during the times of the Roman camp Vindobona. But until the 17th century, the streets of Vienna were rather chaotic and so-called Janschky wagons (inelegant carriages of the same name builder) could be taken as taxi on the streets by strangers. The problem with this: the prices were not regulated at all.
But something should change very soon. To be able to create a kind of public transport network, in 1693 all carriages offering a kind of taxi service were operationalized. In addition, fixed stands were introduced where the carriages could advertise their customers - this system was revolutionary at the time and was built on a system established in Paris, France. Because there was at the time in the "Rue de St. Fiacre" (ie. also the name "Fiaker") fixed-placed horse carriage that could be rented. However, the novelty in Vienna was that the carriages were also numbered and the owners were equipped with commercial licenses. The worldwide birth hour of the car drivers and taxi industry!
Around 1900, the ubiquitous Fiakers were at their peak. Around 1,000 registered Fiaker carriages and countless horses were taking people through the city at that time. For a long time, some carriage-drivers were considered respected citizens and advanced to local celebrities due to their driving skills and their Viennese Charme (aka. "Schmäh"). Josef Bratfisch (coachman of Crown Prince Rudolf) or Karl Mayerhofer (also a blessed Vienna song singer) were only two prominent names. Most of these well-known Fiakers (carriage-drivers) also lived in today's 3rd District in the so-called "Fiakerdörfl", today known as Fiakerplatz.
Back around 1900, the famous Vienna Fiakers were no longer just a taxi. Amusement rides with singing or whistle concerts as well as stories and anecdotes about the city itself have long been part of the standard repertoire. Viennese people used a carriage ride more and more often to enjoy their own city in style, or to impress their guests and loved ones. It is probably because of the victory march of industrialization and the car that many Viennese still enjoy the revered Fiakers today.
Until the late 80's, the carriage industry was shaped by men and the classic car image. A rough tone and interaction among colleagues was no rarity - after all, most Fiakers were hard-working citizens and spent more time with their horses and colleagues than with their own families. But in 1987, this stigma was broken by the first female coachman/woman (Sisi Ringl) and paved the way for many more talented and great female Fiakers.
Since the 1990s, an education with a subsequent exam has been mandatory for the Vienna Fiakers. The training essentially consists of a theoretical and practical part and includes topics such as: horsekeeping, disease pictures, basics of the horse, technique and driving styles of carriage driving, traditional use, etc. The exam is carried out by the Austrian Equestrian Association. After successful passing, the aspirant receives the "Bronze Driving Badge" - which entitles the person to drive with a team in road traffic. Subsequently, a second exam for the Fiaker driver's license must be completed at the WKO Vienna. This includes historical components, legals as well as routes, etc.
This year, numerous improvements and laws were implemented for timely adaptation of the Fiakers, which additionally strengthened Vienna's position as an international pioneer in the field of horse protection and carriage rides. Among other things, this amendment introduced the driving ban for Fiakers at 35 degrees Celsius. The novel has had a significant positive impact on the quality - the animal welfare ads against Fiaker have decreased significantly as a result and are currently moving annually with an average of 2 ads (Source: MA60, Veterinä ramt & animal welfare).
The signs of the times don’t stop even before one of the most traditional trades in the world and so it happened that the Fiaker ones are also gradually in the 21st century had arrived. Fresh and innovative concepts such as the Riding Dinner were established and transparent stable tours, as well as visits to the establishments and horse farms are now an important component of many establishments.