Cafe


The Viennese café is a typical and traditional institution of Vienna, which still plays an important part in Viennese culture and tradition.

It was in the late 19th and early 20th century, when leading writers of the time became attached to the atmosphere of Viennese cafés and were frequently seen to meet, exchange and to even write there.

There is a legend which tells that soldiers of the Polish-Habsburg army, while liberating Vienna from the second Turkish siege in 1683, found a number of sacks with strange beans that they initially thought were camel feed and wanted to burn. The Polish king Jan III Sobieski gave the sacks to one of his officers called Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki. He was the one who started the first coffee house in Vienna. After some experimentation, he added some sugar and milk, and the Viennese coffee tradition was born.

In reality, one of the first cafés was started by Armenian/Greek Johannes Diodato. He was a spy for the Austrians, who received the cafe monopoly for his spying services.

The new drink became popular, and coffee houses started to appear rapidly. In the early period, the various drinks had no names, and customers would select the mixtures from a colour-shaded chart.

The highlight of the coffee house in Vienna was the turn from the nineteenth to the the twentieth century, when writers like Peter Altenberg, Alfred Polgar, Karl Kraus, Hermann Broch und Friedrich Torberg made the coffee house their preferred place of work. Many famous artists, scientists, and politicians of the period such as Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Adolf Loos, Theodor Herzl and even Leon Trotsky were constant coffee house visitors.

From the beginning of the 50's, the period of "coffee house death" began, as many famous Viennese coffee houses had to close, because of the popularity of television or the appearance of modern espresso bars. Nevertheless, many of these classic Viennese spots still exist, and tourism and a renewed interest in their history have prompted a comeback.

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