Café Central – the former literary stronghold

Cafe central

Where is Café Central located? When would it be founded and who was the architect? Which visitors did Café Central attract? What makes a visit to Café Central an experience these days?

There are coffee houses and there is the Café Central they say in Vienna. Café Central is the number 1 café and the most famous in the world. It is located at Herrengasse 14 in the center of Vienna in a beautiful building in the style of the Tuscan New Renaissance.

The Viennese Ringstrasse architect Heinrich von Ferstel created this Italianate building in 1860. He had been inspired by Italian Trecento architecture during a longer trip to Italy and wanted to implement this in Vienna as well. Ferstel also built the Vienna University, the Votivkirche and the University, as well as the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK).

In 1876 , the Café Central was founded by the Pach brothers. Initially, the old stock exchange halls and the Austro-Hungarian Bank were located in the place of the café.

After Café Griensteidl, the former meeting place of the literati, was demolished, they moved just a few hundred meters away to Café Central . Thus, in 1897, the café’s flight of fancy began. Famous regulars were Peter Altenberg, Anton Kuh, Adolf Loos, Sigmund Freud, Egon Friedell, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Hermann Bahr, Alfred Adler, Oskar Kokoschka, Stefan Zweig, Alfred Polgar, Leo Perutz, Robert Musil, Karl Kraus, Felix Salten, Richard Beer-Hofmann and Arthur Schnitzler.

Anyone who was anyone in Vienna at the turn of the century was to be found at Café Central.Over cakes, coffee and cigars, people discussed, philosophized and often spent more time here than at home.Some guests even had their Residential address with the Central specified (Peter Altenberg). It was a international meeting place and there were 250 newspapers in 22 languages. Chess was played with pleasure, especially by Mr. Bronstein, alias Leon Trotsky, who lived as an emigrant in Vienna from 1907 until the end of the First World War.

In 1943, the portico was destroyed in the course of World War 2 and the café was closed. It fell into disrepair until it was renovated and reopened in 1975. Another renovation took place in 1986.

Nowadays, visitors to Vienna are still greeted by the same atmosphere as at the turn of the century . A Peter Altenberg figure greets guests at the entrance, after the usually long wait. No other café in Vienna has a longer queue. Sometimes a pianist plays in the evening and in this ambience you can taste the Viennese coffee specialties as well as the own Café Central delicacies of the patisserie . There is also a Café Central cake.

Café Central offers not only sweets, but also typical Viennese dishes, such as the famous Wiener Schnitzel, a beef goulash, Krautfleckerl or a fried chicken . A classic Viennese dessert – the Kaiserschmarrn may not be missing either. Thus, the Café Central is suitable in the morning, at noon and in the evening.


The Viennese like to go there early in the morning, around 8 a.m. you can have breakfast in Café Central, where the percentage of locals is about 90%, two hours later it changes to a tourist percentage of 90% and the Viennese can already be found at their workplace.

Time Travel Tip: After a visit to Café Central, be sure to stroll through the Ferstel Passage to the Freyung. Vienna has only a few passages of this kind. Exquisite stores invite you to chocolate, wine, ham and other delicacies .







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