For a brief period before World War I, Café Central played host to Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Sigmund Freud, Josip Broz Tito, and a mediocre artist named Adolf Hitler.
It was called the Schachhochschule (“Chess School”), a place where men could smoke, drink coffee, play chess, and foment revolutions. Although Vienna had a thriving middle class in the 1910s, it also had slums, suicides, and refugees from across the empire. Half of the city’s residents were not from Vienna. In places like Café Central, dissidents spoke – in Russian, Czech, German, a dozen other languages – of radical change.
The war wiped imperial lines off the map. By the time Café Central lost its “Chess School” moniker, in A.D. 1938, Trotsky was dead, Hitler was psychotic, and Freud was fleeing for his life from the city he loved so much. Café Central was closed after World War II, but reopened in A.D. 1975. You’ll find it at Herrengasse 18, near the Stephansdom.