Did you know there are cafés in Spain which have existed for over a hundred years? Here we reveal some of them, and their history, featuring artists of the stature of Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Lorca, Sorolla, Machado, Falla, and more. And many still boast the décor and Bohemian atmosphere of a bygone age. They have everything you need to enjoy a quiet coffee and good conversation, just as they did for the literary and artistic gatherings of yesteryear.
Café Gijón and Café Comercial, Madrid
The Gran Café Gijón was probably the most popular literary café in Spain, hosting gatherings of such illustrious figures as Lorca, Pérez Galdós, Valle-Inclán, Dalí and Buñuel. It was also among the first to have women taking part in the discussions, including the famous spy Mata Hari. You can find it at 21 Paseo de Recoletos.
Meanwhile, the Café Comercial is reputed to be the oldest in the city, opened in 1887. It reopened in 2017 after being closed for some time, and still retains many of its original fittings, including the bar and the lamps. It still conserves some of its charm, with many reminders of its history, featuring names like Antonio Machado and Jardiel Poncela, or more recent figures including Luis García Berlanga, Francisco Umbral, Forges, and Pérez Reverte. The café is at 7 Glorieta de Bilbao.
Els Quatre Gats, Barcelona
This place is an icon of the Bohemian and Moderniste side of Barcelona. Picasso held his first exhibition here, and he and Rusiñol designed some of the signs. Its rooms were crucibles of art, frequented by Picasso, the Modernistes Antoni Gaudí, Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol, the musicians Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados… Even Woody Allen used it as a setting in his film “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona”. Today you can visit the reopened and restored café at 3 Carrer Montsió, on the ground floor of the beautiful Casa Martí.