10 of the Oldest Operating Places From Around the World
Ancient buildings and structures often serve as windows to an intriguing past. Sadly, not all such structures can weather through the centuries or remain fully operational. But when they manage to do just that, it can be truly inspirational. This is also why such buildings and structures hold a special place in the world’s collective memory. So, in honor of some of the world’s most important and historical places still in use today, here are some of the oldest operating places from around the world.
1 The Pekin Noodle Parlor is one of the oldest continuously running Chinese restaurants in the US.
The oldest (or one of the oldest) continuously running Chinese restaurants in the US is not located in San Francisco or New York. Rather, it can be found in a place called Butte, Montana. It was opened by Hum Yow and Tam Kwong Yee, and since then, the Tam family has owned and run this restaurant. Currently, it is operated by Jerry Tam.
The restaurant is located on the second floor, and patrons can climb up a flight of stairs to get to the noodle parlor. Once inside, they are greeted by the parlor’s iconic salmon-orange partitions that provide them with all the privacy they need. The noodle parlor also offers a diverse range of food on its menu.
But more importantly, having been established in 1911, this noodle parlor still evokes memories of its rich history. For instance, its furniture is believed to date all the way back to the 1900s. Furthermore, the restaurant’s building itself is said to have had a colorful past. At one point, it is believed to have housed an herbal shop and an illegal gaming facility within its premises. (1, 2, 3)
2 Considered the world’s oldest public housing complex still in use, the Fuggerei in Germany is a marvel.
Can you imagine paying about a dollar a year to rent a home? No, right? But in the Fuggerei, this is indeed reality. Located in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, the Fuggerei is a historical marvel. It was founded in the 1500s by a merchant named Jakob Fugger and is considered the world’s oldest social housing project still in use.
Over the past 500 years, the rental conditions at the Fuggerei have remained unchanged. Tenants can live here for a yearly rent of one Rhenish guilder, equivalent to 0.88 € or $1.17. In return, all they must do is offer three daily prayers for the Fugger family.
However, there are also a few other conditions that need to be followed. For instance, those who are able to are expected to help out in the community with jobs such as gardening or being a nightguard. All tenants must also be official Augsburg residents with no debt and respectable members of the Catholic community. Currently, about 150 people live in this complex, spread across some 140 apartments. The Fuggerei also has numerous tourists visiting it, providing it a source of income. (1, 2)
3 The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the world’s oldest continually operating salt mines.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine may be a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, but when it began operation centuries ago, no one could have envisioned the fairytale spaces it would eventually come to behold. This salt mine is one of the world’s oldest continually operating mines and is located near Krakow in southern Poland. It was excavated in the 13th century and produced table salt continuously until about 2007. However, commercial mining here ground to a halt in 1996. Today, it mostly serves as a tourist attraction, with more than a million annual visitors.
Over the years, miners have slowly turned this place around from a dark cave into a majestic royal location. By the 19th century, its underground complex was adorned and lit by giant salt-crystal chandeliers. Later, in the early 1900s, it became home to the Kinga Chapel, a chamber filled with huge biblical reliefs. The mine also features other attractions, such as beautiful salt sculptures and a labyrinth of tunnels.
4 Sean’s Bar is believed to be Ireland’s, and maybe even the world’s, oldest bar still in business.
Athlone, in Ireland’s County Westmeath, is home to what is believed to be the country’s, and maybe even the world’s, oldest bar still in business. Known as Sean’s Bar, this pub’s history goes all the way back to the Dark Ages. And so, over the past 1,100 or so years, this bar has undoubtedly witnessed innumerable glasses of alcohol being poured.
What’s more incredible, however, is how the bar’s lore connects it to Ireland’s most legendary river, the Shannon. Athlone marks the site of what was once a ford across this river, known as the Ford of Great Antiquity. Around 900 CE, a man named Luain Mac Luighdeach lived there and used to guide travelers across the water. He even established an inn and this inn’s site is where Sean’s Bar now stands.
This rich history was further proved in the 1970s when the bar underwent renovations, and some of its walls were found to be made of “wattle and wicker” that dated back to the ninth century. In 2004, the Guinness World Records officially designated this bar the oldest pub in Ireland. (1, 2)
5 The oldest operating amusement park in the world is Dyrehavsbakken in Denmark.
Amusement parks are often safe havens for families, hosting attractions and rides that appeal to visitors of all ages. Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, is no doubt one such well-known park. However, Denmark is also home to another amusement park that is far more interesting – Dyrehavsbakken. This is because, when it comes to being the world’s oldest amusement park, Dyrehavsbakken has Tivoli completely beat. And amazingly enough, this amusement park is still going strong!
Having opened in 1583, the origins of Dyrehavsbakken (also referred to as Bakken) can be traced back to a freshwater spring located on the grounds. The discovery of this spring brought in numerous people who had come there in search of clean water. Since then, the park has undergone some transformations, but none of this has robbed it of its charm. Presently, Dyrehavsbakken boasts of some wonderful rides and attractions, including a wooden rollercoaster from the 1930s.
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