Born out of the Belle Époque, and dating back over a century, with its colorful sitting rooms and oversized windows, Café Louvre is a living testament of a golden age; a photograph stranded in time of a period marked by a joie de vivre, comprising of a flourishing arts and culture scene, social progress and technological advancements. Founded in 1902, it is here where Europe’s high society came together. Some of its famous patrons included Albert Einstein and Franz Kafka. Under the elegant, Art Deco chandeliers of this Parisian-inspired space, coffee became their muse, and the large windows, the gateway to a changing Empire.
Národní 22, Praha
As you step out of the conspicuous staircases and into the foyer, you’ll quickly realize how special the place is: the softness of the rose-coloured walls, inviting and welcoming, juxtaposing with the buzz and busyness inside; the crisp, white uniforms of the waiters, like pliable, colourless shadows scuttling between the wooden tables; the clinging of the china infiltrating from behind the oh-ever-so-indulging pastry and cake display, muffled against the hundredths of conversations taking place simultaneously; it’s all like a romantic melody unraveling out of a dusty phonograph, a trip down an unknown memory lane.
You can’t help but imagine Einstein stepping in here, with his famous briar pipe, perhaps already lit up, picking up the daily newspapers by the entrance, sturdily held together by glossy, wooden sticks. He would sit at his favourite spot, perhaps close to the window, and order a Kaffee Hag (decaf), or a black tea. I wonder why he chose not to drink caffeine, yet he was a fan of black tea, which is one of the most caffeinated leaves; some accounts mention he would even drink them simultaneously!
Taking small, careful, steps towards your table, you feel like you’re part of a journey which started more than a century ago; like an intruder, a curious wanderer, absorbing fleeting moments of inspiration, learning, questioning, and somehow, when parting, feeling like you’ve left a desolate mark on a nostalgic fragment of a historic grandeur.
I sat down and ordered a copious breakfast. The famous Viennese coffee has an acclaimed spot on the menu, together with the decadent, Hot Chocolate ‘Louvre.’ I could have just sat there and ordered cups after cups, until I’d eventually enter a chocolate-induced coma, and there would have been no regrets!
I later found out, Café Louvre was closed down from 1948 to 1992, during the communist regime, which converted the space into government offices. For the last 25 years, it has been restored and opened for the enjoyment of all history buffs and lovers of beautiful interiors out there. Standing the test of time, across changing societies and generations, both joyful and turbulent, Café Louvre is now more akin to an immaculate museum room, where you, too, can take a sit and be part of its glory, past and present.
P.S. Did you know Einstein used to love his eggs for breakfast? He would eat fried or scrambled eggs every morning, sided with lots and lots of mushrooms! Even geniuses have their ordinary, petty indulgences!
© avantgarde-prague.com | Chilton, Martin: Albert Einstein, He Really Was an Egghead, Telegraph UK | Café Louvre