Cafeneaua Veche which basically translates to “The Old Coffee House” is the oldest coffee shop in Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, dating back to 1781 and being first mentioned in official documents in 1812. It can be found in Saint Anton Square on Covaci Street, Nr 16, in Bucharest’s picturesque historical center.
The first mention of this charming coffee house comes in 1781, when an Armenian called Strefan Altintop receives permission from the ruler of Wallachia, Alexandru Ipsilanti to build a coffee house in the immediate vicinity of Wallachia’s Royal Court, located in the northern part of Saint Anton Square, for a price of 10 talers per years.
The construction is a simple, one story building which had plain white walls and a dark shingled roof. Renaissance decorations were placed between the buildings arched windows to add a degree of detail and elegance while the windows themselves were shaded by metal shutters. The small yet charming coffee house was first mentioned in writing in 1812 when its owners first changed and then again in 1825.
The coffee house’s reputation grew and by the 19th century it became one of the most famous and stylish locales in Bucharest, a hotspot for all the elites of the time. It was the only place in the city where you could meet celebrities, artists and the political figures of the time all in one place. Among famous attendants were Romania’s national poet Mihai Eminescu, writer Ion Luca Caragiale and even King Carol the II. By the last decades of the 19th century the coffee house’s history blends with that of the “Universal” Hotel that was located next door. Mihai Eminescu, a journalist and editor at “Timpul” at that time, which had its headquarters in the Universul building, is believed to have been a frequent visitor of the coffee house during his stay there.
Presently, “Cafeneaua Veche” is still operating in Bucharest’s busy historic center. Even with strong competition from the dozens of other café’s in the area the coffee house still boasts a unique elegance, which, combined with the exquisite cuisine, the rich wine, coffee and beer menu as well as the nostalgic history offers the perfect place to unwind and relax.
The listed historical building has been carefully restored, preserving all the elegance and class of the late 18th century. The interior is a mix of historical remnants, as well as modern design, creating a well-balanced and inviting atmosphere while also respecting and preserving the character of the building and its rich history.
Aside from the numerous rich coffees and delicious cocktails, the coffee house also offers a varied menu which dabbles both in local and international cuisine. The menu also boasts some exquisite deserts which range from traditional Romanian treats to international favorites. The apple pie with forest fruit comes highly recommended as well as all Mediterranean dishes.
So if you want a truly authentic experience in Bucharest, one that involves rich history, tasty coffee and a varied menu, look no further than Cafeneneaua Veche.