Café Louvre

Motto: Typical café atmosphere of the 1929s

The address of the Café Louvre is No 116/20 Národní Street,
Nové Město, Prague 1

History

Café Louvre is one of the most significant Prague´s cafés with rich history.

The Café Louvre was opened by its owner Antonín Pelc at Národní Street, former Ferdinand Street, the then promenade of Czech Prague´s citizens in 1902. The café was built according to the example of Paris cafés. It got its name according to the Louvre museum.

On its openingthe café was much larger than the present one. The halls were interconnected with the neighboring building in Spálená Street. There was space for holding concerts, a typing pool, a telephone room, two billiard halls with eleven tables. In the building there was also a cinema, a night bar and a wine cellar.

The Café became an elegantcenter of Prague. It was favorite among most different interest and nationality groups of that time.

It was a hub of a numerous group of Prague´s Germans, particularly writers and intellectuals. Around the year 1911 it was the place where Albert Einstein and his colleagues used to meet. At that time Albert Einstein was a professor at Prague´s German University.

Before the World War I the Café Louvre was the place where the German Philosophical Circle used to meet, Franz Kafka and Max Brod being its members. Later, Max Brod published Kafka´s legacy. In 1905 Max Brod was expelled from the Circle, and out of solidarity, Kafka left the Circle. However, both of themcontinued to visit the Café.

In the year 1911 three meetings of the visual arts and literature association Sursum took place. Among the members of the association were Jan Zrzavý, Josef Váchal, Emanuel Frynta and others. The café was also the seat of the Club of soloists of the National Theatre. The space occupied by the Club was lent to Czech writers, who on 15th December 1925 summoned the establishing meeting of the Czech extension of the PEN Club. Karel Čapek was elected its President. At the first PEN Club dinner the President of the Republic TomášGarigue Masaryk was a honorary guest.

The life of the Café was violently broken by the communist coup in 1948. The furnishing of the café was literary thrown out of windows.

In 1992 the café was fully reconstructed and it resumed its former spirit. It is one of the special places that oughtn´t to be missed by Prague´s visitors.

Our impressions

This Wednesday – a day off! Wonderful! It´s February, winter, since the morning only spells of sun. Yet, after gray days it has a positive effect on us. We meet at 11 a. m. Allegedly it is good to make reservation even for that hour of a day. The internet says that an online reservation is possible only against a hundred crown returnable fee, so we decline such a possibility.

The entrance to the café from Národní Street is inconspicuous. Lifting our heads toward the first floor we can, however, see a large inscription: Café Louvre.

We go up the darkened staircase with red marble tiling to the second floor. The café atmosphere is created from the very start by large photographs of old Prague´s cafés. The pictures hang on the walls of a stairwell. Among the cafés there is also the famous Café Union, which doesn´t exist any longer, and a beautiful photograph of Barrandov Terraces.

The entrance to the central hall gives a very pleasant impression, not only due to the fountain in the middle of the hall, but also a few witty elements like an interactive map of significant Prague´s cafés as they were in the so called First Republic, and the visitor may find a certain locality, just pressing an appropriate knob. There are also magnified copies of the documents referring to the ownership of the cafés by their original owners.

On the right hand side there is the entrance to the main hall, on the left there is a summer terrace, which is closed at this time of a year. Behind the terrace is a dining hall for those visitors who want to have their lunch in calm and peace, away from the noise produced by the café. In front of us there is a group of about five visitors standing and waiting. Right at the entrance they are addressed by an elegant attendant, probably a manager, who is ready to help with finding suitable places. In a while he offers us the seats at a small table in the middle of the café, opposite a long bar.

Although it is the morning of a working day, the large space which the café occupies is almost full.

At first sightit seems that the café is located in three tall halls along the whole main façade. One more hall is oriented towards the rear part of the building – smoking space and billiard play room with several tables. The smoke doesn´t spread and we can´t smell it at all.

The place is very busy. The personnel is shipshape, in greyish striped waistcoats with the logo of the firm Meinl, which is a supplier of coffee for the Café Louvre.

The main hall gives the impression of a luxurious castle interior with its damask color wall papers with golden floral pattern, wooden tiling is ivory white.

Between the windows there are large-sized photographs, mostly interestingly conceived portraits.

The menu card has beautiful outlay. The offer of breakfast is extensive, including specialbreakfast arrangements like the breakfast of Northern countries, which includes a glass of fizz,herb muffins with smoked salmon and sour cream. Very original!

In addition to breakfast, as it is nowadays typical of most of cafés, they permanently offer lunch. The section of cold cuisine comprises beef Tatar steak, soup of different kinds and vegetarian dishes. For the visitors who decide to stay for dinner, Café Louvre offers both warm and cold assorted dishes.

In the menu section offering coffees we are attracted by the coffee Mafioso with amaretto liqueur, but we resist.

Among the wide assortment ofwine you will find Czech sorts (ZnovínZnojmo, StarýPlzenec), but also foreign makes from Moldovia, New Zealand, Chilly, Argentina and Spain.

Desserts of many kinds are displayed in a vitrine on the right from the bar.

We offer espresso lungo and espresso normal, cottage cheese cake named Louvre and warm apple strudel with vanilla sauce and whipped cream.

The vanilla sauce is thick and of rich taste. It is served separately, so the visitors may use it according to their taste. The whipped cream is perfect. Open notebooks on the tables around us indicate that most of the appointments in the Café Louvre are working ones. Japanese tourists take photographs with waiting personnel, who willingly pose for them.

We were amused spotting a little stand with papers for notes and sharpened pencil, which is undoubtedly appreciated even by children visitors to the café.

Desserts are so nourishing, that we give up the idea of staying for lunch. Time flows so pleasantly that we don´t feel like going outdoors where it´s freezing. Nevertheless, our visit almost draws near the end. The only thing ahead of us is the settling of the bill. The prices correspond to the quality of meals, attractivity of the environment and service.

We leave the Café with high satisfaction.

In the Café Louvre we were attracted by the place itself, which has rich history, which projects in every place of the interior. It successfully follows the tradition of the so called First Republic. Gastronomic level is very high, service is excellent. The prices correspond to the quality.

It will be pleasure for us to return.

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