Whether it’s the local watering hole or a card-carrying establishment, many bars and pubs around the world have been made famous for their longevity, their drink list or their iconic style. However, as the tides of what’s popular in the stein-and-spirit world can shift almost instantly, it’s more often than not the case that many popular drinking establishments end up changing their menu as often as they change their name.
Some bars have managed to surprise the public with their cocktail command and instant appeal to make a popular, though not necessarily timeless, haven for people to enjoy a pint or an upscale evening with friends. Of course, while the finer drinking establishments can hit the scene like a storm, it’s more common for the less assuming neighbourhood pubs to stake their claim to the loyalty of customers, and persist as a staple of the community even if the ownership changes or the room requires some renovations.
While the tavern Zum Riesen in the small town of Miltenberg, Germany has seen the daunting march of history, having witnessed the witch trials that led to the loss of many of its owners, The Brazen Head pub in Dublin has played host to many literary and political giants of the day and maintains its record as one of the oldest drinking establishments still standing today. Though a multitude of once-popular drinking spots have disappeared throughout the years, the following have stood the test of time and remain a place where history still holds firm to its mark.
Located in one of the most famed brewing grounds for beer, Herberg Vlissinghe was established in 1515 in the city of Bruges, Belgium and is recognized as its oldest pub. As a once-popular place for many famous painters, sculptors and architects of the 19th century, this pub has managed to maintain its popularity with locals who appreciate the fine menu and the peacefulness of Bruges’ St. Anna quarter. Deemed as West Flanders cosiest pub in 2013, Herberg’s eclectic mix of chandeliers, framed pictures and opulent furniture serves as a throwback to its lengthy history.
Located in Ferrara, Italy, the drinking haven of Al Brindisi officially came into being in 1435 and lays claim to being the oldest wine bar in the world, though it could have been a popular spot as early as 1100. Due, in large part, to its longevity, Al Brindisi has managed to attract a multitude of famous figures like the artist Titian, astronomer Copernicus and the soon-to-be Pope John Paul II, who came to visit on the 500th anniversary of Copernicus’s birth. As a still local staple so many years later, the tavern and restaurant still offers a selection of dusty bottles and many pasta specialties that are common to the region.
Founded by Alice de Kyteler in 1324, Kyteler’s Inn is located in Kilkenny, Ireland and has retained its style as a staple of the small Irish town. Holding the legacy of Kyteler, who was sentenced for witchcraft and fled Ireland for England in 1324, the pub has shifted in popularity over the years but has always maintained as a local institution. Under new ownership since 1986, the pub has been revived as a popular locale within the limits of Kilkenny that offers traditional food and drink with Irish hospitality thrown in for good measure.
Established in 1318 in the city of Cologne, Germany, Brauhaus Sion is the site of a historic brewhouse that, despite time and near ruin, continues today. While Brauhaus Sion has witnessed more than its fair share of changes, a halt in production occurred on May 31, 1942 when the brewery was bombed during World War II, with the building destroyed shortly after the end of the war. As a testament to the history of Germany and Cologne, and a centrepiece of the city’s life, Brauhaus Sion is something of a social mecca for the 600 guests the brewhouse can hold.
Ye Olde Man & Scythe
Located in the town of Bolton, England, Ye Olde Man & Scythe was first formally mentioned in 1251 but could date back much further than is documented. While the pub is popular with Bolton locals, its carries the history of the town within it and marks the site of the murder of James Stanley, the Earl of Derby, who was partially responsible for the Bolton Massacre on May 28, 1644 that led to more than 1600 deaths. Ye Olde Man & Scythe has altered with the times and undergone many renovations throughout the years, but the cellar of the original structure remains today as a relic of its extensive history.
The Brazen Head Pub
Located in Dublin, Ireland, it is said that the Brazen Head Pub may have opened much closer to the 17th century but it’s often dated back to 1198. Originally a coach house, the pub served those who passed by and stopped over, including famed figures that made it their drinking hole of choice from Irish writers James Joyce and Jonathan Swift to political figures Robert Emmet and Michael Collins. While The Brazen Head continues to attract many of the high-profile figures of today, its history persists in the scrolls and pictures that cover the walls.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
Named after the 12th century Crusades that required a stopover for Knights on their way to Jerusalem, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem dates back to 1189 AD. Located in Nottingham, England and known locally as The Trip, this pub has the distinction of being carved out of sandstone rock and comprised of a network of caves, with the ground level used as a drinking area and the underground having once held a brewery. Though many strange tales abound with the length of the pub’s history, none are stranger than that of The Cursed Galleon, a wooden model ship layered in dust that serves as a decoration. It’s believed that the unassuming ship led to the untimely death of the three people who deigned to dust it, and now it’s protected behind glass.
Established around 1150, this tavern in Miltenberg, Germany has seen many a famous politician stroll through its doors from Emperor Charles IV to Kaiser Karl VI to King Ludwig of Bavaria. While the success of Zum Riesen has persisted, it holds the dark history of having many witch trials set right outside its tavern doors, and many of its landlords have been sentenced to death as a result. Despite and due to its lengthy past, the tavern has undergone many renovations and continues today as a guesthouse with a rich, and chaotic, legacy.
Set in the town of Athlone, Ireland on the River Shannon, Sean’s Bar contains a history that greatly surpasses its unassuming name. Originally opened more than 1100 years ago in 990 AD, Sean’s Bar has not only changed hands many times over the years, but has changed considerably from the days of swords and chamber pots. Though the pub still features traditional Irish music and the familiar pint, its popularity with the locals has made it a near-eternal mainstay and it has the distinction of being the oldest bar in Ireland.
The Bingley Arms
As the oldest known drinking spot in Britain, this Leeds, United Kingdom pub dates back to 905 AD. Known until 1780 as The Priests Inn for its location between two abbeys, The Bingley Arms documented history begins in 953 when Samson Ellis brewed beer within the walls of the building. Frequented early on by monks who stopped along their journey and stagecoaches in need of a resting place, and marked with holes where priests would hide after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, the pub’s history has led to a number of ghost stories and sightings that attest to its considerable past.