The National Theatre is one of the most beautiful buildings in Prague evoking the Czech national spirit and unity. The National Theatre’s Neo-Renaissance edifice ranks among the most beautiful Prague architectural structures.
Nationalwide Collection And Grand Opening
The National Theatre represented a monumental project in the second half of the 19th century. Because of insufficient funds for its construction, nationwide collections were organized and money was collected from all social classes. The foundation stone was laid in 1868, the historical date thought of as the beginning of the origin of this amazing building. Years passed and finally in 1881, the neo-Renaissance construction was ceremonially inaugurated by the first performance that was held here in the honour of the Crown Prince Rudolf.
On 12th August 1881, when the last details were being completed, a fire broke out and destroyed much of the new building. This event was considered to be a national catastrophe, but Czechs didn’t give up. They started a new campaign for the reconstruction of the National Theatre. Rich and poor contributed and the result was the amazing one million florins gathered in 47days.
Reopening Of The National Theatre
In charge of the project this time was the architect Josef Schulz, who was entrusted with the difficult task to unite three different buildings into one harmonious structure. His work was successful and in the perfectly designed and equipped Theatre, the first ceremonial performance of Smetana’s opera Libuše, specially composed for this gala occasion, took place on the 18th November 1883.
The theatre served its purposes loyaly for almost a century – until 1977 when it had to be closed for reconstruction. Everything went precisely according to plan and the theatre reopened on the occassion of its 100th anniversary. On 18th November 1983 Smetana’s Libuše resounded here again as the symbol of the national devotion and unity. The modern glass building reminding us of the communist era in Prague may seem a little out of place, but in fact it is perfectly integrated in the cultural beauty of our great city. It now houses the administrative offices and main box office of the National Theatre.
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