The wonderful capital of Austria, Vienna has a lot to offer to its local residents as well as its tourists. The city is situated on the foothills of the Alps with the Blue Danube River running by both its sides. The city gives off a feel of the baroque period with a touch of art nouveau as well.
There are many things in Vienna that serve as a huge tourist attraction. Particularly interesting is the cities architecture especially in the old town. Vienna’s main boulevard, Ringstrasse is one of the most awe inspiring places in the city. From Opera houses to museums Vienna has it all for the people.
Amongst the many wonderful things that Vienna has to offer to the public is a coffee house. Although there are many coffee houses in Vienna nothing stands in comparison with Café Central. This old school coffee house is by far the most popular coffee joint in the country. In fact it has gained popularity all over the world. Even people in Japan know that visiting Café Central is a must if you happen to be in Vienna.
The popular café is located in the Innere Stadt district which is at Herrengassse 14. The building in which it is situated used to be a bank as well as the main stock market building. The bank and the stock market closed down and the name of the building has been changed to that of its architect. The building is now known as Palais Ferstel after its renowned architect Heinrich von Ferstel.
The hub of intellectuals
Café Central is not something that belongs to the hip hop culture of today. Rather the foundations for this classic coffee house were laid down more than a century ago. It is recorded that the Café was opened up in the year 1860. By the late nineteenth century the coffee house became extremely popular. Unlike the coffee culture today where “Friends” hang out, coffee houses used to be a place for intellectuals to gather and hold discussions and share ideas.
In these terms Café Central was the center of the intellectual activity in Vienna. There are certain people who are remembered as being frequent visitors to the café. Regular coffee drinking intellectuals include Egon Friedell, Peter Altenberg, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Leo Perutz, Anton Kuh and Alfred Polgar. These were the top notch intellectuals of those times.
A few years down the line the identity of Café Central further evolved. It was now being called the chess school. This was around the year 1938 that the coffee house established this identity. The obvious reason behind this was the presence of chess players who were addicted to coffee or so it seems.
The Café was a popular meeting point for logical positivists during both the great World Wars. The people of the café were even considered as a threat to the existing Russian government as they were believed to be true intellectuals capable of fomenting dissent. The cafe was however closed at the end of WW2. It was not until 1986 that the café reopened with a new style, a new flavor and in a new part of the building.