The oldest restaurant in Europe?

Wrocław has a long and storied history, with its location meaning that it has passed through various ‘ownership’ throughout the centuries, including German, Prussian, Austrian and Polish settlement. Thus it is no surprise to find a restaurant there which has seen many of the moments in history. Piwnica Swidnicka is located at the very heart of Wrocław, with its address being Rynek Ratusz 1. Thus it actually is part of the Ratusz (town hall) building in Wrocław, as it is found in the caverns underneath the Ratusz itself.

“Here beats the heart of Wrocław”

As you can tell from the Piwnica name, it also is a brewery as well as a restaurant, so you can get a flavour of Wrocław as well as a taste for the food. The underground caverns are divided into 4 main areas – two of them are designed in more ‘medieval Polish’ ways with long benches, old-fashioned swinging chandeliers, and candlelit tables. There is also a bar section for those who wish to only partake of a refreshing beverage or two. And as well as there being Polish cuisine, the fourth area of the restaurant is made up of a French restaurant, which looks to make a Franco-Polish merger in tastes. 

Thus, overall the restaurant gives a feel of history, and you can easily image a group of medieval lords returning from a hunt and dropping by to have some food and a few mugs of beer. Based on it’s location, it is a popular location with any visiting tourists, and especially Germans. The menus are provided in Polish, English and German, covering most of the requirements for those that may visit. The food itself is aimed to be very traditional, wholesome and filling. A prime example can be seen below with an order of pork ribs (żeberka) being provided on a wooden platter with a big fork and knife sticking out. The combination of the meat, potatoes and vegetables may seem very traditional but they worked very well with the local brewed beer also provided. Incidentally, waiter said that the beer is available only in their piwnica, but it would be worth revisiting for that alone.Finally, the restaurant itself does claim to the oldest in Europe (on it’s restaurant menus and other locations), dating back to 1273, and has claimed visits from Frederyk Chopin, Julius Slovak and Johann Goethe. However, this claim may not be the most accurate as even Wikipedia is only claiming that it is the oldest in Wrocław. However, with the Stiftskeller restaurant in Salzburg alone claiming history back to the year 803, it is difficult to confirm for sure if the Piwnica Świdnica can lay claim to the title. Despite that it is still worth a visit for the 700 years of history and to sample the food and beer. While wandering around the Rynek and Ratusz, you might also spot some of Wrocławs gnome population as seen below. Whether they start singing, dancing and talking may depend on how many of the beers are consumed.

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7 thoughts on “The oldest restaurant in Europe?

  1. I’ve heard this about Piwnica Swidnicka many times, but I’ve never been able to verify it. I’m told Norman Davies mentions that it is the oldest in Europe in MICROCOSM. Either way, it’s a cool place.

    As for those gnomes, I think it’s one of Wroclaw’s most charming ideas.

  2. scatts says:

    Poland likes to make claims of things being “The XXXX in Europe”.

    The biggest shopping centre, the biggest cemetery, the largest town square, the oldest ………. etc.

  3. ThomasM says:

    “The biggest shopping centre, the biggest cemetery, the largest town square, the oldest ………. etc.”

    Bang on. In a similar way, a few years ago Wrocław boasted to have “the first tram in Poland”. Of course they forgot to mention that the city didn’t become a part of Poland until some 50 years after the tram was built. :)

  4. kuba says:

    Well…Piwnica Swidnicka is probably best known among (German) tourists. As a local I experienced rude service and not-so-good food there. It looks like they’re happy with tourists and don’t need locals there. It’s worth trying but definitely there are better places to go.

  5. […] I was surprise tonight when I checked it out and found a story there about the oldest restaurant in Europe–supposedly. I’ve been there! Well, not in the restaurant, but i noticed it when we […]

  6. RP says:

    It’s funny you should say that. This was a common bone of contention for my (Polish) wife when we lived in the UK. Any swimming pool, statue, stadium, omelette was not only the biggest in the UK but usually the biggest in Europe and often the World.

    Similar are those ’50 best (insert comedian, singer, band, song) in the world ever’ tv shows which really mean – the 50 best from the UK and USA.

    This exageration is not unique to Poland.

  7. pantsless says:

    Terrible food, monstrously overpriced, and downright rude service. And I’ve been there 3 times!

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