Nothing like a good old pub right? Well, the ones we’ve selected here breathe history like no other. These are the 23 oldest bars of Europe we could find. All were founded before the year 1600. You haven’t truly toured through Europe before you’ve had a beer in all of these amazing pubs. We ranked them for you by the year of establishment and added a picture and a small describtion. And for the real ‘pub pilgrims’ who want to do the Lords of the Drinks U1600 Tour we added the adresses too. And please don’t be shy to share your impressions after a visit.
Located in: Munich, Germany (Platzl 9)
Founded in: 1589
Their story: This bar was built by the duke of Bavaria Maximilian I as an extension of the Hofbräu brewery. In 1897 it was remodeled the first time and in World War II it was actually completely demolished, except for the ground floor. It took till 1958 before the building was completely rebuild.
Name: Na Slamniku
Located in: Prague, Czech Republic (Wolkerova 12)
Founded in: 1570
Their story: This bar was originally founded under the name Dolejsi and was traditionally a bar where tailors had their festivities. These wild parties were known in Czech as Slamnik and that’s why it was renamed in the 18th century.
Name: Quinten Matsijs
Located in: Antwerp, Belgium (Moriaanstraat 17)
Founded in: 1565
Their story: The bar was named after the Flemish painter Quinten Matsijs, but founded in 1565 under the name Huize ‘t Gulik. Some of the most famous people from Antwerp (like the poet Paul van Ostaijen) made this their regular hang out all through the years.
Name: Ye Olde Mitre Tavern
Located in: Holborn (London), England (1 Ely Place)
Founded in: 1546
Their story: Built for the servants of the bishops of Ely from Cambridge. Like all of Ely Place it’s technically still part of Cambridgeshire. Kinda like the Vatican isn’t really part of Rome. The bar is pretty well hidden, but if you can find it we’re sure you will love it.
Located in: Salzburg, Austria (Griesgasse 23-25)
Founded in: 1542
Their story: First owner of this place was the royal smith in 1408. And indeed it stayed a smithy until the late 16th, early 17th century. Since 1542 beers were also served and probably this was a more lucrative business. In 1907 the brewery was moved elsewhere in order to expand, but the bar still exists.
Name: Prospect of Whitby
Located in: London, England (57 Wapping Wall)
Founded in 1520
Their story: This pub is located beautifully on the bank of the river Thames. In the good old days it was a meeting point for all kinds of scum like thieves and smugglers, thereby earning the name the Devil’s Tavern. The famous writer Charles Dickins himself stopped here for a drink, so who knows if this pub might have inspired him when writing the story of Oliver Twist.
Name: Herbergh Vlissinghe
Located in: Bruges, Belgium (Blekerstraat 2)
Founded in: 1515
Their story: Typical old Belgian ‘café’, that was traditionally a place where artists hung out. A local myth says that the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens once paid for his beer with a coin he painted on the table.
Name: U Fleku
Located in: Prague, Czech Republic (Kremencova 11)
Founded in: 1499
Their story: With it’s own microbrewery it’s also the oldest brewery in the Czech Republic. During communist days U Fleku was nationalized, but after the Velvet Revolution privatized again. Nowadays people can not only enjoy the homebrew – U Fleku only serves it’s own dark beer, a dark lager – in the beer garden, but also take a museum tour. Football fans might find it interesting that this is the place where Croatian football team Hajduk Split was founded in 1911. When Croatian (then like Czech Republic part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) students visited a match between Slavia Prague and Sparta Prague they got so enthousiastic at the bar after the match that they decided to raise their own club back in Split.
Name: De Waag
Located in: Doesburg, The Netherlands (Koepoortstraat 2-4)
Founded in: 1478
Their story: Doesburg is a city that borders the rivers IJssel and Oude IJssel and therefor it had a strategic position in the old days. Merchants in those days had to pay taxes and so there also needed scales (in Dutch Waag) to weigh the goods. Of course a bar next to this scales meant great business, especially since the renter of De Waag had the monopoly on beers from outside the city.
Name: Zice Gastuz
Located in: Loce, Slovenia (Stare Slemene 24)
Founded in: 1467
Their story: Zice Gastuz is located next to the Zice Charterhouse, which is a popular tourist attraction in Slovenia. When you are done hearing about the order of Carthusian or bloody invasions by the Ottomans, you might want to step in for some beers.
Name: Al Brindisi
Located in: Ferrara, Italy (Via Guglielmo degli Adelardi 11)
Founded in: 1435
Their story: According to the Guiness Book of Records this s the oldest osteria in the world. Another fun fact is that Copernicus lived above the bar for a while and of course came down often for some well deserved drinks. Discovering that the Earth turns around the sun makes you thirsty.
Name: Zum Franziskaner
Located in: Stockholm, Sweden (Skeppsbron 44)
Founded in: 1421
Their story: This typical German beer cellar was founded by German monks, what explains both the name as the fact that it’s in German. However the current building dates back from 1906.
Name: De Draak
Located in: Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands (Grote Markt 36)
Founded in: at least 1397
Their story: De Draak is for sure the oldest inn in Holland, but the exact year it was founded is unknown. It survived the major fire in Bergen op Zoom from 1397, as the city’s archives did not. During the centuries the building has been renovated a lot. In the 15th century De Draak also had it’s own brewery called Het Wapen van Henegouwen, but that is no more. Nowadays it mainly functions as a hotel, but of course it’s still possible to grab a beer while you’re there. Most famous guest the hotel ever had was Fernando Alvarez de Toledo (the 3rd Duke of Alba), the leader of the Spanish army during the Eighty Years’ War.
Name: Kyteler’s Inn
Located in: Kilkenny, Ireland (Kieran Street)
Founded in: 1324
Their story: The founder of this bar was a woman named Alice de Kyteler. She actually married 4 times and each divorce made her a richer lady. Money she invested wisely in her bar. Too bad the couldn’t hold on to it. When she was accused of witchcraft and almost burned alive, she just managed to escape to England. Needless to say the best sold beer in this bar are the famous pints of Kilkenny’s.
Name: Brauhaus Sion
Located in: Cologne, Germany (Unter Taschenmacher 5-7)
Founded in: 1318
Their story: Unfortunately the original bar was totally destroyed in World War II. However in 1951 it was rebuilt and at least the beer recipe for the traditional beer from Cologne (Kölsch bier) survived.
Name: Zum Riesen
Located in: Miltenberg, Germany (Hauptstrasse 97/99)
Founded in: 1314
Their story: This place still has the looks of a medieval inn. You can still stay for the night, but it also hasn’t lost it’s function as a place where thirsty travelers can pour huge cans of beers down their throats.
Name: Piwnica Swidnicka
Located in: Wroclaw, Poland (Rynek-Ratusz 1)
Founded in: 1275
Their story: This is a typical German style beer cellar. Which makes sense since Wroclaw lays in Lower Silesia, a region with a lot of German influences. The cellar was expanded multiple times, until it reached it’s current size in 1519.
Name: Ye Olde Man & Scythe
Located in: Bolton, England (6-8 Churchgate)
Founded in: 1251
Their story: This place is most known as the place where the 7th Duke of Derby, James Stanley, in 1651 had his last meal. As soon as he stepped outside he was beheaded for being involved in the Bolton Massacre, in which 1.600 people were killed.
Name: Café Den Turk
Located in: Ghent, Belgium (Botermarkt 3)
Founded in: 1228
Their story: This is a typical Belgian ‘brown bar’, where nowadays the sounds of jazz and blues fill the room. The name ‘The Turk’ comes from the fact that the former owner had mint tea imported from Turkey during the days of Kemal Atatürk and couldn’t stop bragging about it. Locals soon enough started referring to his bar as The Turk, while he was actually from Flemish origin.
Name: The Brazen Head
Located in: Dublin, Ireland (20 Lower Bridge Street)
Founded in: 1198
Their story: Countless famous people have stepped in this bar for a drink. Not to mention the live concerts by stars like The Dubliners, Van Morisson and Tom Jones. Legend has it that even Robin Hood himself stepped in for a beer once, when visiting Ireland.
Name: Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem
Located in: Nottingham, England (Brewhouse Yard, Castle Road)
Founded in: 1189
Their story: The name of this bar dates back from the days of the crusades. A lot of the guys who were off to fight in the Holy Land first landed here to drink to their safe return or to gain some courage. It’s even said that King Richard Lionheart made a little stop here himself. Next to the bar is a bunch of caves that were once used as a brewery. Nowadays it’s possible to have a beer inside.
Name: The Bingley Arms
Located in: Leeds, England (Church Lane)
Founded in: 953 (or 905)
Their story: Although the former bar Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem claims the same, The Bingley Arms is the oldest pub in England according to the Guiness Book of Records. The official records say The Bingley Arms was founded in 953, but other evidence suggests it might have even been 905. Under the old name The Priest’s Inn it was a shelter for persecuted Catholic priests.
Name: Sean’s Bar
Located in: Athlone, Ireland (13 Main Street)
Founded in: 900
Their story: So far this bar has been found the oldest pub still standing in the world. Of course it has been heavily renovated in the past. With one of those renovations wicker was found in the walls, which indeed underlines they were built a very long time ago.
17 thoughts on “The U1600 Tour, a pub crawl past the oldest bars of Europe”
I’ve put a few of these in my notebook to check out when I’m in their cities.
Thanks for the recommendations.
You are most welcome. I am quite curious how you will like them. Please let us know. Enjoy!
Awesome post! I love the Brazen Head. Although on the tourist “must-see” it actually has a lot of locals who drink there and it’s on the edge of a rough area so you can imagine the cross-over of people drinking there.
Hahaha that’s good to know. People better be prepared before stepping in. But It’s good they didn’t put it into smt fancy for the rich and the famous. Still a real pub! 😀
Man, GREAT post..!
I have actually been to one of of these and def aim to see another one next year. Anything that has survived the test of time is worth visiting.
Damn good entry, Micky. You’re da best! 🙂
Thanks a lot Steph. You got me quite curious which one you visited and how did you like it? Oh and what’s next on the list?
well, …errr… i didnt care too madly for the one i did visit so will refrain from unkindness…but i will share with you the next one i visit …when i get there…and can give it a sincere review. 🙂
Hahaha you got yourself a deal! 😀
I’ll soon be starting the challenge too. Probably here in the area (Holland, Belgium and Germany).
You missed one in the Netehrlands : De Draak in Bergen op Zoom
http://www.isgeschiedenis.nl/nieuws/de-draak-oudste-herberg-van-nederland/ (Dutch only…)
The inn survived the city fire of 1397, so is definitely older as that, but all archives were destroyed that year.
Excellent… Thanks a lot for pointing this one out mate. It will be added to the list soon.
p.s. Everyone that knows other bars and pubs older than 1600 AD please tell us. The greater the challenge, the better! 🙂
Great, but Bergen Op Zoom is not in Holland, it’s in the Netherlands
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Potato, potata… 🙂
Love this! Just added a few more destinations to my bucket list, thanks to you guys. LOL
Haha glad we could help… Good luck and don’t be shy to share your experiences with us. Cheers,
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