10 of the World's Oldest Companies

1. Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd, just saw the end of its long run a couple of years ago. Up until 2006, the Japanese construction company had been going strong since 578 A.D. Yep, you read that right – 578 A.D. The company was primarily involved in building temples but also had a stint building coffins during WWII. Things started going downhill in the ‘80s, when they borrowed a lot of money to invest in real estate. By 2004, revenues were way down, and by 2006, they were $343 million in debt and ended up being absorbed by Takamatsu construction.

2. Hōshi, a traditional Japanese inn in operation since 718, took over the “World’s Oldest Continuously Operating Company” title when Kongō Gumi Co. folded. Located in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, the hotel has been in the same family for 46 generations so far.

3. Within the walls of St. Peter’s Archabbey in Salzburg, Vienna, lies Stiftskeller St. Peter, a restaurant and wine cellar that has been feeding the masses since at least 803 A.D. And apparently being in business that long has allowed them to perfect a thing or two, because it consistently gets outstanding reviews from the travelers who pass through its doors – and there are some pretty impressive travelers that are rumored to have eaten here. Supposedly Mephistopheles met Faust at Stiftskeller, Charlemagne liked to eat there, and Christopher Columbus downed a mug of beer there before he hopped on the Santa Maria.

4. It should come as no surprise that there is a brewery on the list – the Weihenstephan Brewery of Bavaria, to be exact, which has been serving patrons since 1040, and maybe even earlier. But that’s the year it was licensed by the city, so we have actual paperwork to prove it. It survived even when the monastery it was attached to was secularized under Napoleon in 1803. These days the brewery not only makes a selection of pale lagers and wheat beers, it’s also a learning facility for students at the Techincal University of Munich.

5. The Wieliczka Salt Mine in the Krakow area of Poland is another one that had been going strong until very recently. And it sort of still is – although it’s no longer producing salt, it is still a popular tourist spot, attracting about 1.2 million visitors every year. Since it has been open since 1044, some of those visitors have included Copernicus, Goethe, Mendeleyev, Pope John Paul II and Bill Clinton. If you’re not headed to Krakow anytime soon, feel free to check out the virtual tour. http://www.kopalnia.pl/site.php?action=site&id_site=164&id_language=2&site_location=2&deparment_change=true&

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