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Legendary Bar

Article based on news reports (als)August 19, 2007

"Auerbachs Keller" is one of Germany's oldest pubs. Thanks to Goethe's literary classic "Faust," the Leipzig tavern is also one of the world's most famous.

Goethe made Auerbachs Keller famous in his masterpiece, "Faust"Image: dpa

"Auerbachs Keller," a cozy nearly 500-year-old drinking den in the eastern German city of Leipzig, offers a special brew -- "Mephisto's Feuer" or "Mephisto's Fire." The devilishly delicious speciality drink is named after one of Goethe's most famous fictional characters.

It's easy to find the vault-like pub. Just stroll towards the famous Mädler Passage arcade in the city center and you're likely to be welcomed by bronze figures created by painter and sculptor Matthieu Molitor (1873-1929). The figures, cast from Goethe's "Faust," point the way towards the cavernous pub.

Einkaufspassage in Leipzig Mädler Passagen
The Mädler Passage in LeipzigImage: AP

Heinrich Stromer of Auerbach, located in Bavaria, moved to Leipzig in 1497. The physician married the daughter of councilman Hans Hummelhain, from whom Stromer inherited the building that would later go down in the annals of literary and drinking history.

The doctor opened up a wine bar in the building's basement in 1525. It was the second oldest tavern in Leipzig and one of the oldest in Germany, and became a popular watering hole for students and professors.

Pact with the devil

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany's most celebrated poet, spent much of his time during his university years in the 1760s in Auerbachs Keller. Goethe, famed for his eloquence, also knew how to enjoy a glass of wine or two. Or perhaps even a little more -- the poet was said to have imbibed up to three bottles a day.

Auerbachs Keller also became a source of inspiration for Goethe. According to legend, the historical Dr Faustus, a dubious magician and alchemist from Wittenberg, chanced upon the tavern in 1525. Goethe used that setting in his own famous masterpiece of "Faust," a story in which a medieval scholar makes a pact with the Devil .

euromaxx a la carte 28.04.2005 restaurant 1
Legends on the wallsImage: dw-tv

Scenes and legends from both the "Faust" tales cover the walls and even ceilings of Auberbachs Keller. Historical paintings as well as sculptures by artists from various eras portray the visit of the scholar and the devil in the roomy inn.

The graphic depictions aren't just found in the legendary tavern but all over Leipzig -- on postcards, in books, on paper napkins, mugs, cake, biscuits and a slew of other souvenirs.