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Start Your Business Success Stories

10 Ancient Businesses That Still Exist

10 Ancient Businesses That Still Exist
Credit: Andrey Burmakin/Shutterstock

In the United States, it's a big deal when a company has been around for more than a century, but travel the globe and you might be surprised to find that there are businesses around today that have been open for more than a thousand years.

From England to Japan and everywhere in between, businesses like breweries, hotels, restaurants and more have been successful for centuries, withstanding the test of time. Some of them are even still run by descendants of the family members who started these ancient businesses in the first place.

Here are 10 of the world's oldest businesses, dating all the way back to A.D. 705. 

Keiunkan Inn (Japan)

The Keiunkan Inn in Japan was founded in A.D. 705 during the Keiun era and holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest hotel in the world, according to the inn's website. It may also be the oldest existing business in the world. The 1,300-year-old inn, located near Mount Fuji, is also home to the Nishiyama Hot Spring. Perhaps most impressive: the beautiful, secluded inn has been owned by 52 generations of the same family.

Stiftskeller St. Peter (Austria)

Founded more than 1,200 years ago in Salzburg, Austria, Stiftskeller St. Peter is  Europe's oldest restaurant, according to the restaurant's website. The restaurant dates back to A.D. 803 and is located inside St. Peter's Archabbey, a monastery that dates back to A.D. 696. According to Austria.info, the restaurant is known for its lavish Christmas decorations, featuring hundreds of trees, lights, a table made of Swarovski crystal, and a nativity scene in the courtyard, making it a delightful tourist destination during the holidays.

Staffelter Hof (Germany)

Staffelter Hof is a German winery that was founded in A.D. 862, making it one of the oldest wineries in Germany. According to Staffelter Hof's website, the winery was at one point given to a monastery in Stavelot, Belgium, by King Lothar II, but during the French Revolution, vineyard manager Peter Schneiders bought it and brought it to Kröv, Germany. The town had been settled by the Celts, then taken over by the Romans, who introduced wine to the area. The winery is still run by descendants of Schneiders' family today.

Sean's Bar (Ireland)

Sean's Bar, located next to the Athlone Castle, holds the Guinness World Record as  the oldest pub in Ireland, and, while research is still pending, it also appears to be the oldest pub in the world, according to its website. The pub officially dates back to A.D. 900. Sean's Bar is so old that when it was being renovated in the 1970s, workers found that the pub's walls were made of water and wicker (a practice that dates to the ninth century) and the original walls, along with other findings like ancient currency are now on display in the National Museum.

Marinelli Bell Foundry (Italy)

The Marinelli Bell Foundry (also known as Campane Marinelli), located in the small town of Agnone, Italy, started around the year A.D. 1000 when the business made its very first bell. It is considered to be the oldest foundry in the world, according to its website. In 1924, the Marinelli Bell Foundry was bestowed a huge honor — Pope Pio XI granted the foundry the privilege of putting the papal coat of arms on the bells it produced. Adjacent to the foundry is the Historical Museum of the Bell, which features the world's largest collection of sacred bronzes and the first bell the foundry ever produced, along with rare historical manuscripts and documents.

The Angel & Royal Inn (England)

Dating all the way back to 1203, the Angel & Royal Inn is said to be the oldest inn in England. It was originally built as a hostel for the Brotherhood of the Knights Templar and boasts of royal visitors such as King John, Richard III, Edward III, Charles I and George IV, according to the inn's website. Previously known simply as the "Angel Inn," the hotel changed its name in 1866 to reflect its history of royal visitors. The Angel & Royal Inn is now owned by popular hotel chain company Best Western, but the building's facade still dates back about 600 years or so.

Frapin (France)

Frapin, a cognac producer, was established in 1270 in the southwest of France by the Frapins, a family of wine growers. The family settled in the Grande Champagne region in Premier Cru de Cognac, where they established their headquarters in the Fontpinot Castle. According to the company's website, the family later became distillers and have continued the tradition for 20 generations. And the family isn't only known for their cognac production — famous 16th century author François Rabelais was a descendant of the Frapin family, too.

Piwnica Świdnicka (Poland)

Piwnica Świdnicka is a Polish restaurant that first opened in 1273. The restaurant was located in the basement of the Wroclaw town hall and was known for its beer, which came from the Polish city of Świdnica. According to the restaurant's website, Piwnica Świdnicka was repeatedly expanded until the 15th century and was reconstructed in 1904 to add electric lighting. In 1960, the restaurant added a cinema hall, cafe and game room. In 1996, Piwnica Świdnicka underwent a thorough renovation to replace old equipment and restore the interior based on the restaurant's historical documentation.

Stora Enso (Finland)

Technically, Stora Enso was established in 1998, but Stora actually started 770 years earlier in 1288 as a copper mining operation in Sweden. Toward the end of the 19th century, however, Stora entered the pulp and paper production industry and in the 1970s, the company sold its other operations to focus solely on the paper industry, according to the company's website. Stora Enso formed in 1998 after Stora merged with Finnish forestry company Enso Oyj, which dates back to 1872. The company still focuses primarily on pulp and paper production, a big leap from its focus on copper mining from centuries past.

Pivovar Broumov (Czech Republic)

Pivovar Broumov, a brewery located in the Czech Republic, dates back to 1348. Originally, the brewery was part of the Broumov monastery, but it was burned down a few times, leading church authorities to rebuild it outside the monastery, according to Pivovar Broumov's website. The brewery that  stands there today was constructed between the years 1712 and 1714 and was recently modernized to introduce a wider range of Czech beers, produced under the brand name "Olivetinksy Opat." The brewery also exports this brand of beer to Poland. 

Brittney Helmrich
Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.

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