Being in Vienna and not having a coffee is a sin. Discover the history of unusual Viennese coffee houses.
Cafés in Vienna, one of the symbols of Austria, are not just dining establishments, but above all the embodiment of the idea of Gemütlichkeit. It is a combination of comfort, friendliness and a quiet affirmation of life.
In 2011, the Viennese coffeehouses were included by UNESCO on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Austria. For Viennese, they are a kind of homey living room where you can chat and read the newspaper while sipping your favorite beverage from an elegant cup. For tourists, it is the best opportunity to feel the true spirit of the Austrian capital.
The first coffeehouse
Legend has it that the first coffeehouse was established in 1683 when the Polish-Austrian-German army defended the capital besieged by the Ottoman army. In the enemy camp, 300 sacks of strange beans were found, which were thought to be camel food. However, a Polish nobleman, Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, who had lived in Turkey for several years, recognized the coffee and asked for the sacks as a trophy. He is credited with opening the first coffeehouse, although modern researchers believe the first establishment was opened by Armenian merchant Johannes Diodato.
Coffee conquers Viennese hearts
The Austrians took a liking to the new beverage. It was served with crescent-shaped pastries, diluted with milk to soften the taste, or sweetened with honey. Coffee drinks at that time did not have special names, and visitors did not choose the type of coffee but its color on a special map with 25 shades.
The coffee houses quickly gained a special significance in the life of the Viennese. In the 18th century, Beethoven and Mozart concerts were held here, and in the 19th century, famous artists, writers, and scientists met in them. During this time, the most famous establishments opened in the capital – Silberkammer, Landtmann, Central and Sperl. After World War II, the café culture fell into disrepair, but today it is flourishing again.
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Vienna’s most famous coffeehouses
Although Vienna also has modern cafés, it is the traditional ones that are most popular. We especially recommend these to you:
- Central was opened in 1876. It attracted the intellectual elite and the most prominent politicians from Vienna and abroad. Unfortunately, the original premises were closed down after World War II and restored only in 1975 in another part of the building. Today the café is one of the tourist attractions of Vienna;
- Sacher is famous for inventing the chocolate cake with apricot jam, which became a symbol of Vienna and was loved by Emperor Franz Joseph;
- Sperl is a café founded in 1880 with a luxurious and award-winning interior, from gleaming wooden floors to stunning crystal chandeliers. Since its founding, it has been a favorite of the upper class, military and political elite.
- Schwarzenberg is one of the oldest coffee houses in Austria (founded in 1861). After World War II it served as a gathering room for officers of the Soviet Army. Literary lectures, concerts and other cultural events are held here.
- TheBräunerhof is the favorite café of writer Thomas Bernhard. Today, a live orchestra plays waltzes and classical music here on weekends, creating a unique atmosphere.
In any of the cafés, you will enjoy a delicious coffee accompanied by sweet pastries from the extensive assortment, a light breakfast or a traditional Viennese dish. You can enjoy the unusual atmosphere and browse the press for as long as you want, because the waiter will only bring the bill when you ask for it.
Main Photo: Valeriya Kobzar/pexels.com