The National Theatre is situated at the corner of Národní třída (National Street) and the Masaryk Embankment and is considered the main theatre stage in the Czech Republic. The National Theatre manages four theatre buildings (including the State Opera on Wilson Street) and four artistic ensembles. The historical building was built according to the design by Josef Zítka and the foundation stone was laid in 1868. After 13 years, it was struck by a fire which destroyed the auditorium, the stage and the copper dome. After the fire, the neo-Renaissance building was reconstructed by architect Josef Schulz. Today the National Theatre offers opera, drama and ballet performances.
Useful information for visitors
Public transport connections
Opening hours and admission
For up-to-date information about the programme of the National Theatre, visit the official website. The website also contains information on seating and tours of the historical building.
A visit to the National Theatre is perceived as a social event that requires visitors to follow a certain dress code. The best option is a dark suit for men and an evening dress for women. Less formal clothes, such as a shirt, are also tolerated. Jeans and street clothes are inappropriate.
Interesting facts about National Theatre
In addition to performances, visitors can take a tour of the National Theatre (the foundation stones, the auditorium and the main foyer). On special occasions, the Presidential Lounge can be visited. Many prominent Czech artists participated in decorating the theatre interior. The best known of these decorations is Vojtěch Hynais’s front curtain. The ceiling is covered with paintings by František Ženíšek, depicting various kinds of arts. There are also 80 busts of artists that are connected with the National Theatre.
History of National Theatre
The construction of the National Theatre was initiated by a group of Czech patriots led by František Palacký who wanted to strengthen the national pride of the Czechs. It was built with funds from a nationwide collection and also partially financed by the state. The National Theatre was finished less than 9 years after laying the foundation stone. However, on 12 August, 1881, after only eleven performances, the building was struck by a fire and largely destroyed. Within 47 days, a million guldens were collected to reconstruct the building. The National Theatre was reopened two years later with a performance of Smetana’s Libuše.