Okay, you've asked us, now we're letting you know. According to our research these are the five oldest bars in the world.
Before we begin though, let's start with a caveat: this is as far as we know! There may be some bar nobody has found somewhere tucked away in Greece or Italy that's been there longer, but we can't find it online! Nobody's written about it!
These, however, have been written about and publicized. So enjoy, what we've found are the oldest bars in the world (and please comment if you want to correct one of them).
Sean’s Bar – Athlone Ireland-900 AD
Can you imagine a bar that was opened over 1100 years ago? What was it like back then? Chamber pots in the corner? Signs outside asking patrons to check their swords? Honestly, it might as well be the bar from Star Trek the Next Generation, that’s how foreign it would be to us.
Well this is the oldest. Archeological records have found that the walls of Sean’s Bar have been around, and serving, since 900 AD. Further, there are records of every owner of the pub back to its 10th century founding.
The small town of Athlone, serving about 20,000 people in almost the dead-center of Ireland, is ancient, so it’s no wonder it hosts a bar as old as this.
Today the pub greets visitors and locals with a pint and live music. Some of the artifacts found in the place—along with their certificate from Guinness legitimizing their story—is found hanging on the wall with scores of other bric-a-brac.
The Bingley Arms – 953 AD
According to the Guinness Book of World Records this Bardsey, North Leeds England pub is the oldest in Britain. Though officially records show it opened in 953 AD, there’s evidence it goes back to 905 AD.
It was originally called the Priest Inn because it was on the path between two large abbeys and was frequently used by weary monks to grab a bite and a pint, maybe even a night’s rest, while on their way to one of them.
Today the building, almost completely original, houses the same traditional pub and the same centuries-old Dutch oven used for baking bread.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem –1189 AD
Located in Nottingham (yes, of Robin Hood fame) England, this ancient place derives its name from the Crusades to the Holy Land in the 12th century. The word “trip” does not indicate a journey, but instead uses an older meaning which is to “break in the middle of a journey.” Thus legend has it that the Crusaders would stop off here for a pint as they were leaving.
It is built up against a series of caves, one of which is used as a drinking room. A network of caves below the building was used as a brewery as far back as the 11th century.
Brazen Head – 1198
Located in Dublin, Ireland, this pub traces itself back to a coach house built in 1198. It has been a favorite stopover for a number of Irish writers, including James Joyce (of course), Jonathan Swift, Robert Emmet and Brendan Behan.
As in all of the places in this article, there is a bit of controversy surrounding the pub’s reported date of opening. Some doubt this date and place it much closer to the 17th-18th century. But, again, with all those here we have to go with what is more commonly stated, which in this case is the much earlier date.
Regardless, the place is dripping with history, with artifacts and décor throughout. They are known for their traditionally Irish live music.
Ye Olde Man & Scythe – 1251
Forgetting the foggy history we’re dealt with the Brazen Head, we can move on to a place that is much more documented. This Bolton, England pub is mentioned in a charter from 1251, making that date its earliest known reference and therefore the date most often associated with it (though it could be older).
The pub has been rebuilt at least once—in 1636—but perhaps more through the ages. The vaulted cellar is the only remaining portion of the original structure and the frontage was remodeled in the 20th century.
There is a lot of history here, including a story about the Earl of Derby who was beheaded outside of the pub for his part in what was known as the Bolton Massacre (when royal-led forces stormed the town and killed over 1,600 people).