|Viennese coffeehouses like Cafe Central have been popular since 1683 (wikipedia)|
Like English pubs and sidewalk cafes in
coffeehouses are as integral to the social and cultural fabric of the city as
Habsburg palaces, a Strauss waltz and the Lipizzan stallions. Vienna
|Viennese coffeehouses are a way of life in Austria (wikipedia)|
The roots of the Kaffeehaus can be traced to the 17th century when
was liberated in a
siege from the Ottoman Turks by a Polish-Habsburg army. (An interesting side
story is the battle took place on September 11, 1683. It was the date of that
defeat that became the impetus for Osama bin Laden’s terrorist attacks on the Vienna
in 2001.) United States
In the aftermath of the battle, the victorious army captured a considerable supply of coffee beans that had been abandoned outside the city gates. Initially believed to be food for the Muslim camels, one of the Polish officers recognized the true value of the beans and asked King Jan Sobieski for ownership. The request was granted and, before long, the tradition of the Viennese coffeehouse was established.
The German word for relaxation in an unhurried manner with pleasantness and peace of mind is gemütlichkeit. The Viennese like to think of their coffeehouses as “having a soul.” It is an accurate and appropriate description for each of
establishments is unique with their personal share of gemütlichkeit. So rich is the heritage of Vienna ’s coffeehouses that they became a part
of UNESCO’s cultural heritage sites in 2011. Vienna
|Coffeehouses are a pageant in Vienna (wikipedia)|
Three traditions are an integral aspect of a typical Viennese coffeehouse: There is always a huge selection of newspapers. Water is served with the coffee. Stay as long as you like.
It is also important to understand the intangible aspects that give the individual coffee cafes a life of their own, however. Some are better suited for morning discussions of global or national events, while others are equipped for pre or post-theater socializing. It is helpful to know the differences in order to have a total coffeehouse experience.
With those thoughts in mind, here is a traveler’s sampler to provide a basic introduction into the world of Viennese coffee. It is not meant to be definitive in any way, but purely to offer a bit of insight into a truly unique travel experience.
|Chocolates are huge part of the coffeehouse tradition in Vienna (wikipedia)|
We begin with Café Central because it is one of the best known, and said to be the grandest, of all coffeehouses in
Because of that it has become a popular attraction for tourists and less so for
local fashionistas. It was often frequented by the likes of Freud, Trosky and
other notable writers and philosophers since opening in 1876 in the former
Vienna Stock Exchange. To savor the echoes of the past and enjoy the spirit of
a different world the best time to visit is midday. Vienna
|Cafe Demel dates to the 18th century and is one of the most popular coffeehouses in Vienna (wikipedia)|
Café Demel is another favorite. Designed in Baroque style and situated near the
Palace, Demel is part of ’s famous
chocolatier, K&K Hofzuckerbäcker. The café dates to 1786,
and features some of the best confections in town in a city famous for its
pastries. A great place to go for a mid-afternoon break. Vienna
|Buchteln are popular sweet buns at Cafe Hawelka (wikipedia)|
Karl Kraus, the famous essayist once wrote, “Old Vienna was once new.” Not true if you visit Café Hawelka. Hawelka is traditional as it can get in
curiosity seekers from all over the world. It has long been another popular gathering
spot for artists and writers. So much so that it is said that entire books have
been written in the café. Visit in the morning as soon as it opens or at ten at
night when the famous Austrian sweet buns, called Buchteln, are served
hot from the oven. Vienna
CaféSacher gets a nod because it is part of the world famous Hotel Sacher which created the even more famous chocolate dessert known as Sacher Torte. The open terrace setting facing the Vienna Opera House creates a delightful ambience during the summer. Open from 8 am to midnight, and any time of day or night is a good time to visit.
|The Sacher Torte is a world famous, scrumptious dessert (wikipedia)|
No trip to
would be complete with a mention of Mozart. Café Mozart opened shortly
after the death of the great composer in 1794. Located in Vienna Albertina Square behind the opera house,
this smoke-free setting also features an open air section. While the café is
open from 8 am until midnight, the signature “Third Man Breakfast” is only
served until three in the afternoon.
|Try a "little night music" at the popular Mozart Cafe (wikipedia)|
By the way, if you shy away from tradition, there’s always Starbucks. There are nine of them in