Coffee Break #6: Literaturhaus Café (Hamburg)

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If you visit Hamburg during the Summer, certainly one of the crowdest places is Schwanenwik. The Alsterpark lawn between the street that names it and Alster banks is where Hamburg locals run to as the first sunny days are spotted. But as we have to cope with cold and cloudy weather most part of the year, the best thing to do is to find shelter inside cozy cafés.

Right at the Schwanenwik, house number 38, is located our today’s café: the Literaturshaus Café. The name seems obvious, even in German: a house for literature. But this is a recent facet, and history goes beyond the beautiful café we see today.
One of the first registers of the house dates back to 1867, when a villa in neoclassic style is built in front of Alster. In the following years, the property is sold and handled to different owners, until 1924, when it becomes a dance school.

Three years starts the house’s sad story. In 1937, the Nazis ordered that the school must be renamed and in 1938, it becomes Hamburg state’s property, to be used as a girls orphanage. The house next door has the same fate, after being expropriated from a Jewish family. In 1943, after Hamburg bombing during Gomorrah operation, the orphanage was also used as care unity for war injured.

In 1987, the house, in a terrible state, is bought by Bucerius Stiftung Foundation, which financed the restoration work. Under concession of Bucerius Foundation, the newly created cultural association Literatur e.V. moves in and two years later, in 1989, the Literaturhaus Café is open.


On the first floor, right at the entrance, are the bar and the café salons. There’s also a bookshop, which doesn’t belong to the café (food or beverages consumption are not allowed in it). Many original pieces and details, such as the frescos on the ceiling, make this place so impressive.

On the second floor, there are three smaller connected rooms, which can be rented for events. On my visit day, everything was prepared for a wedding ceremony.

But the most impressing is certainly, the main salon. Chandeliers and details on the ceiling distract you even from the delicious variety of cakes displayed beside the bar. From so many options, I picked the tangerine cheesecake. Slightly sour and tasty! But on the menu, there are also lunch options, including typical Hamburg dishes with fish.

Whether you want to stop only for a coffee, a drink, or to have lunch, Literaturhaus Café is one of the most beautiful cafés in Hamburg, which you should visit at any time of the year.

Literaturhaus Café
Schwanenwik 38
Hamburg – Germany
Instgram: @literaturhauscafe_hamburg

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