Towards the end of January, this year a friend and I stayed a few days (too short stay) in Madrid . From Malaga, we took the AVE fast train and within 2 hours and 50 minutes we arrived at Atocha station in Madrid. Very pleasant and enjoyable journey, with thanks to the Australian woman who told as the story of how she and a friend managed to lock themselves out on a balcony 2-3 floor in a Malaga holiday letting and was “rescued” by a fire engines ladder.
Before we went to Madrid we reserved a table at Sobrino de Botin Restaurant in Madrid. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Sobrino de Botin is the world oldest operating restaurant which opened in 1725. Ernest Hemmingway mentioned the restaurant’s famous dish (perhaps the most famous) Cochinillo Asado (roast suckling pig) in his novel The Sun Also Rises 1926.
However, as I found out, it is true that “many” other restaurants throughout Europe also allegedly declared to be old if not the oldest. I’m pretty sure that the following magnificent seven is among the oldest working restaurants you can find in Europe.
The Old Magnificent Seven
St. Peter Stiftskeller in Salzburg, Austria — established in 803
is a restaurant within the walls of St Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, Austria. It is claimed to be the oldest inn in Central Europe because of a supposed mention of it in the Carmina anthology by the English scholar Alcuin of York, issued in 803 AD when he served Emperor Charlemagne and Bishop Arno of Salzburg. The former guesthouse of the Benedictine monks was also mentioned by the Monk of Salzburg in the 14th century. Based on these and other claims, the Stiftskeller is perhaps the oldest existing restaurant in the world, and likely the oldest in Europe. Website Stiftskeller
Zum Franziskaner in Stockholm — established in 1421
There are different stories about the Zum Franziskans age. Some claim to be Stockholm’s oldest inn, founded in 1421. in connection with King Erik of Pomerania allowing the monks to charge for food and drink. Around 1520, the business was moved to Österlånggatan. The place signposted with Bierhalle (beer hall) and that one served genuine German Bier from Munich as one could read on the advertising signs. The current house was completed in 1910 and is the third in the same place. Part of the Art Nouveau interior and the Art Nouveau lamps have been preserved from the old house and date back to the 1880s. Website Zum Franziskaner
The Tour d’Argent in Paris — established in 1582
was founded in 1582, and that it was frequented by Henri IV, but it offers no documentation to support these or other claims about its history. The Quai de Tournelle, where the restaurant stands, was not paved until 1650, before which it was “a slope, often flooded and almost always made inaccessible by mud”. The restaurant does not appear in an 1824 list of “The principal restaurants, who are distinguished by the elegance of the decoration of their salons and by the number and the care taken with the dishes found there…” Website Tour d’Argent
Zur Letzten Instanz in Berlin — (The last instance) established in 1621
is the name of one of the oldest Berlin restaurants. It was built in the 16th century in a residential building as a brandy room and received several new names. Today’s listed building complex is a reconstruction after destruction in the Second World War. The restaurant is located in the orphanage in the district Mitte directly near a piece of the preserved medieval city wall. The house was first used as a drinking room in 1621.
Sobrino de Botín in Madrid — established in 1725.
is the oldest restaurant continuously operating in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. The artist Francisco de Goya worked in Cafe Botin as a waiter while waiting to get accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The restaurant was founded in 1725 by Frenchman Jean Botin and his wife and was originally called Casa Botín. It was inherited by a nephew called Candido Remis and had a name change to Sobrino de Botín, which survives to this day. Sobrino is the Spanish word for nephew. Apart from using the original recipes, the restaurant has also kept the flame burning in the oven continuously, never to be extinguished.
Website Sobrino de Botin
Tavares Rico in Lisbon — established in 1784
and still retains the name of the Tavares brothers, who took over the business in 1823. It has become a place of worship among chefs and gastronomic critics from all around the world, whose history of almost three centuries merges itself with the History of Portugal. In 1861, the businessman Vicente Caldeira wanted to make the house ‘the most luxurious place in Lisbon’. The Tavares has become a national icon and one of the most exclusive and luxurious restaurants in the world. The chefs may have changed over the years, but the Tavares restaurant remains one of the best, most exquisite and historic restaurants in Lisbon. Website Tavares Rico
Rules Restaurant in London — established in 1798
describes itself as London’s oldest restaurant. Rules were opened by Thomas Rule in 1798, primarily as an oyster bar but served, and continues to serve, traditional British cuisine. Rules specialises in game and have its own estate, the Lartington Estate, in Teesdale. Efforts have been made to carefully preserve the original features in the main restaurant and in the cocktail bar. The walls are decorated with a series of sketches, oil paintings, and cartoons which have been collected throughout its history. Rules have been frequented by Henry Irving and Laurence Olivier amongst others.
The restaurant has featured in novels by Graham Greene, Dick Francis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Evelyn Waugh. John Betjeman complained to the Greater London Council in 1971 when the restaurant was under threat from demolition. Rules made an appearance in the James Bond film Spectre and several appearances in the historical period drama Downton Abbey.Website Rules Restaurant
Thank you to
Great Big Story YouTube Sobrino de Botín in Madrid
Wikipedia for most of the facts.
Image Holger.Ellgaard | Category:Skeppsbron Zum Franziskaner
Images from Sobrino de Botín in Madrid by Mobile phone January 2019