Historic Central Cafe | Budapest
Café culture has a long and prestigious history in Hungary’s capital, Budapest. Cafés and coffee houses have been an intrinsic part of the city’s social and cultural scene since as far back as the Turkish occupation of the 1600s. But it was during the Austro-Hungarian Empire that Budapest saw vigorous growth in its café culture, with almost 500 in the capital alone. It was at this time that the ‘Grand Cafés’ of Budapest became prominent cultural hubs. Notable poets, politicians, artists and writers of the day gathered in the exquisitely decorated Grand cafés not only for the sophisticated menus but also for vibrant intellectual and creative exchange, with some cafés bearing witness to Hungry’s many artistic and literary gems as well as eminent political ideas.
Centrál Café, one of Budapest’s oldest, is one such place. Situated close to Elizabeth bridge, the café was established in the 1800s. Centrál was a meeting point for writers, journalists and poets at this time. Unfortunately though, as with many cafés in Budapest, Centrál was closed during the communist regime for fear of free-thinking individuals. Reopened and renovated back to its former glory in the late 1900s, Centrál’s mission is to reestablish its illustrious tradition as a place for studious contemplation and provocative conversation, along with some very tasty food.
Sit in Centrál’s elegant surroundings and, whilst perusing the menu, if the urge should take you, follow in the footsteps of the poetic ghosts of the past. Write a poem, or perhaps two, on a sheet at your table containing a poem of the day, a pencil and a prompt to scribe something magical to a loved one or a gracious friend.