Café Central

Café Central (German: das Café Central) is a coffeehouse in Vienna. It is located in the Innere Stadt district at Herrengasse 14 in the former Bank and Stockmarket Building (Bank- und Börsengebäude), today called the Palais Ferstel after its architect Heinrich von Ferstel.

The café was opened in 1876, and in the late 19th century it became a key meeting place of the Viennese intellectual scene. Key regulars included: Peter Altenberg, Theodor Herzl, Alfred Adler, Egon Friedell, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Anton Kuh, Adolf Loos, Leo Perutz, Alfred Polgar and Leon Trotsky. In January 1913 alone, Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, and Leon Trotsky (the latter two being regulars) were patrons of the establishment.

Until 1938 the café was called the "Chess school" (Die Schachhochschule) because of the presence of many chess players.

The Vienna Circle of logical positivists held many meetings before and after World War I.

A well known story is that when Victor Adler objected to Count Berchtold, foreign minister of Austria-Hungary, that war would provoke revolution in Russia, even if not in the Habsburg monarchy, he replied: "And who will lead this revolution? Perhaps Mr. Bronstein (Leon Trotsky) sitting over there at the Cafe Central?"

The cafè was the inspiration for The Chestnut Tree in George Orwell's novel 1984; among other things, it is recalled as having catered to prominent figures of the Ingsoc revolution (including one, Emmanuel Goldstein, who is himself generally regarded as being modeled after real-life Cafè Central patron Leon Trotsky), although it has since become "ill-omened" as a frequent haunt of those who've been convicted in regular government purges.

The café closed at the end of World War II. In 1975, the Palais Ferstel was renovated and the Central was newly opened, however in a different part of the building. In 1986, it was fully renovated once again.

Today it is both a tourist spot and a popular café marked by its place in literary history.

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