Cafe Louvre - coffee, tradition, Prague

A brief look into the history of pre-war Café Louvre

You have just entered the foyer of Café Louvre. This Café, bearing the name of the world’s famous gallery, has been standing here for over a century, since 1902. Among its guests were Karel Capek, Franz Kafka as well as Albert Einstein during his professorship in Prague.
The Café’s life was interrupted by force in 1948 by the communist coup when all café fixtures were thrown out of the windows into Narodni Avenue.
The cultural melting pot was revived in the place after 1992 when the devastated premises underwent a complete reconstruction.

Eduard Vojan [1853-1920], a famous Czech actor, used to have his favorite table here. German writers Otto Pick and Franz Werfel joined him here in 1913. German Philosophical Circle professing the teachings of Franz Brentan [1838-1917] started their regular meetings here in 1902. The Circle’s members included amongst others an experimental psychologist, Josef Eisenmeyer, a private senior lecturer, Alfred Kastil, Oskar Kraus, a scholar known for his refusal of the relativity theory and his Illias paraphrase – published as Meyrias, Berta Fantova, Emil Utitz [1883-1956], a latter aesthetics professor, Hugo Bergmann, and several significant law students – Felix Weltsch, Max Brod, and Franz Kafka.

In autumn 1905, Brod was expelled from the Circle, and Kafka, sympathizing, seceded shortly after. It wouldn’t stop them from visiting their favorite café, though. As documented in their correspondence, they spent “ pleasant and relaxing moments” here on the 7th of November 1907, reading Legendary Moralities by Jules Laforgue. Brod’s group rented a separate clubroom for themselves here.

Café Louvre was also used by Prague writers as an office, as we can read in Brod’s letter dated May 1912, addressed to a publisher named Axel Juncker, or in letters by Arne Laurin, a latter editor-in-chief of Prager Presse, and František Langer, who wrote his letters to a playwright, František Kohl, using Café Louvre’s letterhead papers.

Since the turn of the 19th century, upper class ladies started visiting the Café, and gradually even made it a bastion supporting female emancipation.

The Café later extended its premises with a cellar resembling a labyrinth, these days also housing a jazz club. In January 1915, a Louvre’s wine cellar called “The Catacombs” welcomed its first guests there. There also used to be a “Pilsner Grand Restaurant” there.

In 1911-1912, Albert Einstein worked at The Prague German University. He was one of the regular guests of Mrs. Berta Fantová’s (mentioned above) Tuesday evenings. He used to sit at Café Louvre on Národni Avenue with George Pick and Vladimir Heinrich, later a professor of astronomy at the Czech University.

In 1911, Café Louvre was honored by three Committee meetings of the Sursum Art Association. Among the association members there were artists like Emil Pacovský, Josef Váchal, Jan Konůpek, Jan Zrzavý, E. Frynta, M. Alšová, R. Medek and others. According to Emil Pacovský, “The art of the Sursum group is antagonistic to all the realistic art schools and is occupying itself solely with spiritual and cult matters.”

The Association’s stamp as well as member cards were created by a founding member of the Association, Josef Váchal, using his specific woodcutting technique.

On 15th February 1925, thirty-eight writers met in Café Louvre at a constituent General Meeting of the PEN Club Czechoslovak Center. Karel Čapek became its first Chairman, and President of the Republic, T.G. Masaryk, was an honorable guest to the first PEN Club dinner.

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Monday - Friday:08.00 - 23.30
Saturday - Sunday:09.00 - 23.30
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Address:Národní 22, Prague, 110 00
Phone:724 054 055, 224 930 949
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