In Prague as in Paris, the cultural revolution took place right behind the windows and tables of literary cafes. Exactly like in the Ville Lumière, also in the capital of the Czech Republic, the story took place in the cafes, where the main artistic manifestations were born and they met and clashed fervid minds, opposition was made, culture was cultivated. In these places of Prague were born for example the current Bohemian Prague, as well as the artistic avant-garde between the two world wars.
We sat down to read the newspaper while sipping a good coffee, of course. But then we began to chat with other patrons, we kept up to date on the latest news, we exchanged opinions. And for some, writers and politicians above all, the tables in the bar were real “working” desks. The sign of the cafeteria was that of their “office”, where they invited friends and colleagues and engaged in important discussions. On politics, economy, history, art and culture.
This is why the historic cafés of Prague, widespread between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, can be considered the spontaneous and lively form of what we now call cultural centers where aggregation and the exchange of ideas are encouraged. Today’s social networks had then glass curtains and wooden or marble tables. But they worked great even without wi-fi.
In the cafés of Prague, it is a well-known story, the collapse of the communist system began. In fact, in these smoldering scenarios of smoke and coffee in the 60’s the dissidents led by President Vaclav Havel began to meet and the windows of the main cafés of Prague witnessed the parade of the student march of 1989, then brutally stopped by emergency forces right in the stretch between the Café Louvre and Café Slavia . At the time, the Prague cafes became the heart of the so-called Velvet Revolution.
Someone is still there, witness of a tormented past, cultural hub and monument to visit. Here is a selection of stops you should not miss on a trip to Prague where you can have a cup of coffee and breathe in history.
Café Louvre : already in the name, the local historian of Narodni trida (viale delle Nazioni) recalls the atmospheres of the Parisian literary cafés. The aroma of coffee here has been growing uninterrupted since 1902. At that time the place was a philosophical circle, attended by law students like Max Brod and Franz Kafka.
Among the distinguished habitues, also Albert Einstein, who did not miss a Tuesday evening, and the writer and playwright Franz Werfel, who had a table reserved in his name. In the period immediately following the establishment of the Republic, the Café Louvre became a symbol-sign for artists, intellectuals, politicians and representatives of what was in the vanguard.