Top 15 Most Famous Theatres in the World
By Steve Collis, via
Entertainment is a cornerstone of modern culture and the presentation of
plays, operas as well as movies has been highly important to societies
throughout the world. Taking a look at the different kinds of theatres can tell
us a little about the culture itself and the values they hold dear. Most of the
theatres throughout the world have been ornately decorated to lend even more
credence to the importance of the arts. Some feel this simply shows our
willingness to engage in opulence by attending shows that only the richest can
enjoy but the reality is these palaces created to celebrate art and the
presentation of the art form. Here are the top 15 most famous theatres in the
15) Boston Opera
When talking about ornate and extravagant theatres, it is impossible not to talk
about the Boston Opera House located in Boston, Massachusetts. It opened it's doors in 1928 and was first known
as the B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre. It was named by the business partner of
Keith as a tribute and quickly became a wonderful venue for enjoying such acts,
such as: vaudeville, opera and more. The theatre is well known for its
ornate ceiling and tinges of gold along with red that seem to come out of every
Exterior of The Boston Opera House
The acoustics of the Boston Opera House make it possible to get a good seat
to hear the performances no matter where anyone sits in the theatre and the
sightlines from every seat assure a good view of the stage, you won't miss
The Boston Opera House went through a $50 million renovation recently in
which the theatre was returned to its original glory and those who have been
coming to the opera house for years were amazed to see just how beautiful the
Boston Opera House was. It is more than just a great place to watch an opera; it
is now a site to behold.
The Boston Opera House stage
14) Palau de la
The Palau de la Música Catalana is located in Spain and has a gorgeous glass
ceiling that dips in the middle to form a glass chandelier. The entire glass
ceiling is surrounded by ornate designs that seem to radiate outwards and the
upper levels are separated by a very ornate addition to the columns on either
side depicting flowers as well as warriors on horseback. It is one of the
theatres that are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Exterior of The Palau de la Música Catalana
The building was originally constructed with money from the city between 1905
and 1908; It was officially opened on February 9, 1908. The architect was almost
immediately awarded in 1909 from the Barcelona City Council. It was constructed
mostly from the contributions of the wealthy bourgeoisie and was intentionally
made to be ornate as a celebration of the kind of lifestyle they like to live.
From 1982 to 1989, the Palau de la Música Catalana went through extensive
restorations to bring the building back to its original glory. Now anyone who
visits the theatre or watches a production inside of it will be able to
experience it much the same way those in the early 1900’s did.
Palau de la Música Catalana stage
By Josep Renalias, via
13) Sydney Opera
Few opera houses are also a country’s landmark on the same scale as the Sydney
Opera House. Visible from the ocean as well as from the bridges, it is one of
the most iconic opera houses of the modern age. It is the home to The Sydney
Symphony Orchestra, The Sydney Theatre Company, The Australian Ballet and Opera
Australia. There are more than 1,500 performances that go on every year there
and tourists from around the globe flock to see the national treasure.
Regardless of whether you are here to see the opera house as a tourist or you
are actually watching a performance, there is no denying the greatness of this
Exterior of The Sydney Opera House
Opening in 1973, it was designed and built in painstaking efforts to assure
it would rise to the position of one of the most award winning theatres in the
entire world. This was accomplished since most images of Australia have the
Sydney Opera House located in the picture somewhere.
The acoustics and line of site were the main focus when building the Sydney
Opera House. Inside of the halls you will encounter state of the art noise
cancelling and acoustic creations made to provide people in every seat the best
seat in the house.
The Sydney Opera House stage
By Koika, via
12) Palacio de
Palacio de Bellas Artes is also known as the Palace of Fine Arts; it is located
in Mexico City, Mexico and is deemed by many to be among the most important cultural
centers in all of Mexico City. It is located in the west side of Mexico City,
which is also known as the historic section. The original structure was dubbed
the National Theater of Mexico but wasn't considered by many to be grand enough.
To celebrate the centennial of the Mexican War of Independence, a new structure
was built in its place and it was called Palacio de Bellas Artes.
Exterior of The Palacio de Bellas Artes
The Mexican Revolution stymied the construction of the building in 1913 but
construction resumed in 1932 and it was completed in 1934. While the interior of
the structure is decidedly Art Deco, the exterior is Art Noveau in style. There
are murals throughout the structure for patrons to enjoy while they are waiting
for a show to start and there are three levels to allow more than 10,000
visitors a week. In 1987, the Palacio de Bellas Artes was named by UNESCO as an
11) Odeon of Herodes
If you are looking for a theatre that goes back as far as the history of art
then check out the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It is ocated in Athens, Greece and
is one of the original locations for plays as well as performance arts of all
kinds. The theatre was originally finished in 161 CE and there used to be a roof
on the structure but this was destroyed in 267; this did not stop the Greek
culture from enjoying the theatre for another millennium. The theatre had
restoration work done in 1950 but did not reconstruct the roof because it's been
accepted as a perfectly fine venue without the need for a roof.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The theatre was built to hold a capacity of 5,000 people and is still used in
modern times to put on plays as well as ballets among other events; even the
Miss Universe Pageant in 1973 was held on the stage here. Artist, like Elton
Jon, have been performed there and it has been visited by some of the most
famous people in all of history. Construction of the theatre at the time was
innovative and used amphitheater style seating, which allowed everyone to have a
good view of the stage without having to sit too far away.
10) Royal Albert
The Royal Albert hall in London, UK was constructed for the vision Prince Albert
had of a central hall filled with music and arts. It was constructed and has
been used continuously since 1871. The government does not fund the hall and it
is a registered charity that is completely self sufficient with the money it
makes from the different events as well as performances throughout the year.
Exterior of Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall is a Grade I building that is perfect for use for award
ceremonies, scientific conversations, public meetings, exhibitions and concerts.
It is located on South Kensington estate and is in close proximity to museums as
well as other places of learning.
The hall is decorated inside and out to look like a royal building because it
was constructed with a royal purpose in mind. The state helped to build it but
since then it has been able to support itself through the events and concerts
that are held there throughout the year. It is also a tourist destination, so it
makes money by offering tours of the facility for a charge.
Royal Albert Hall stage
By Yuichi, via
9) Teatro Amazonas
Teatro Amazonas, also known as Amazon Theatre, is located in Brazil. The three
story building opened in December 31, 1896 and held its first performance in
January 7, 1897. The Renaissance style of the building was typical for the
period in which it was built and the roofing itself has tiles from Alsace,
France. Italy was responsible for the columns, statues and stairs found
throughout the facility; the dome itself was created using 36,000 decorated
ceramic tiles to form the flag of Brazil.
Exterior of The Teatro Amazonas
By LecomteB, via
Teatro Amazonas has been used for an opera house primarily as that was its
intended purpose but it has also been known to house the Amazonas Philharmonic
Orchestra. Musical concerts, choirs and more have performed there because the
acoustics are good enough to provide just the right sound for everyone in the
There have been quite a few references to the Teatro Amazonas in popular
culture and it was recently mentioned in “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett.
Novels are the main place where the opera house shows up but it has shown up in
films, like Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog. The film was made in 1982 and one of
the characters was heading to the opera house to listen to Vivaldi’s Ernani.
Teatro Amazonas stage
8) Radio City Music
Among places for people to see while they are in New York City, New York is
Radio City Music Hall; this is such a popular location for locals and tourists that it was listed as a city landmark in 1978. The nickname for the music
hall is the Showplace of the Nation and it's still among the top locations
for tourists to travel to while in the city, even though it's no longer the
leading tourist destination.
Exterior of The Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall was first dubbed the International Music Hall and later
got its name because the Radio Corporation of America was among the first
tenants of the building; they lent their name to the building after putting on
many radio productions inside.
The Radio City Music Hall currently belongs to the Madison Square Garden
Company and it's the destination for major events, such as: the NFL Draft, Tony
Awards, MTV Video Music Awards and the Grammy Awards. It was closed for a while
but reopened in 1980 thanks to a tirade by John Belushi.
Radio City Music Hall stage
By flickr4jazz, via
7) Palais Garnier
Palais Garnier in Paris, France is also known as Garnier Palace and it's an opera
house that was built in 1875. The style of the building is mostly second empire
but the presence of Beaux Arts is throughout it too. It's designed to carry
acoustics without the need to provide amplification of sound and the 1,979 seat
opera house was the largest destination for anyone looking to watch the opera in
Paris at the time that it was built, until the Opera de la Bastille was
Exterior of The Palais Garnier
By Eric Pouhier, via
Today, opera is generally not seen at Palais Garnier because the ballet is the
event of choice in this facility most of the time. The gold figures on either
side of the structure greet you as you arrive and the stone front make you feel
welcomed into the distinctive Parisian construction style.
In order to properly utilize the facility, the Palais Garnier is used to house
the Paris Opera Library and Museum. There are tours of Palais Garnier that occur
throughout the year and once inside the museum, you are taking advantage of the
facility that is run by the Bliblioteque nationale de France. You are also
welcome to take unaccompanied tours of the museum, if you wish.
Palais Garnier stage
By scarletgreen, via
6) Teatro Solis
Teatro Solis, or Solis Theatre, is the oldest theatre in Uruguay and was built
in 1856, currently it's owned by the government of Montevideo. The
government spent $110,000 to purchase two columns designed by Philippe Starck
from the United States of America as part of a major renovation and
reconstruction project intended to make the theatre more attractive to the
Exterior of The Teatro Solis
By unkown, via
The Teatro Solis is presently putting on opera, ballet and concerts for the
public at a price. It was closed from 1998 to 2004 to upgrade the appearance of
the facility and the acoustics were improved by using Jerome Falala from the
French studio AVEL ACOUSTIQUE to assure that every performance would be properly
Solis Theatre was the home of the first Uruguayan national opera performance
that occurred in September 14, 1878; the performance was of Tomas Giribaldi’s
"La Parisina " and it the public adored it. It set the tone for the other events
that would follow in the coming years and since then has been hailed as a great
place to experience an opera.
Teatro Solis stage
By Marcos Mendizábal, via
5) Les Celestins –
Theatre de Lyon
Les Celestins stage
The theatre de Lyon is also called Les Celestins and it's the centerpiece for
art in Lyons, France. It's an opera house that most will turn to when they are
looking for a great performance and it's able to house more than 1,030 people.
The horseshoe shape gallery is split between multiple levels to assure that even
those who have to sit far from the stage will still get a good seat and the
acoustics are similarly created to assure that sound will travel to the farthest
The entire structure is outfitted with red and gold on the inside and
presents all of the surfaces with an opulent, almost regal, character; the
outside of the building is a little more austere with statues set into the
Les Celestins has been the destination for those looking to watch successful
operatic performances, concerts, plays and other dramatic performances of all
kinds for more than two centuries.
Exterior of Les Celestins
4) Chicago Theatre
There are a few music venues that are so iconic that they have entire musicals
written after them and this is what you'll find with the Chicago Theatre. This
stage that was created to show music concerts, speeches, comedy, magic shows,
stage plays and more has been on the list of landmarks for the city of Chicago,
Illinois since 1921.
It was originally created to be the flagship theatre for the Balaban and Katz
group, which was an organization that consisted of two brothers along with their
partner who ran theatres throughout the city.
Exterior of The Chicago Theatre
By Daniel Schwen, via
Chicago Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June
6, 1979 then Chicago decided to add it as a landmark for the city as well in
January 28, 1983. While the marquee was not intended to become this, it has
become the unofficial emblem of the city. After all, it is not often you see the
name of a city emblazoned on the side of a building. The sign itself has been
featured in numerous postcards, photographs and works of art to signify that
events are taking place in Chicago.
Chicago Theatre stage
3) TCL Chinese
The TCL Chinese Theatre is one of the most iconic movie theatres in the United
States and it's the location where most of the premiere events happen for the
newest movies. Limos line up outside of the movie theatre so everyone involved
in the project and those who want to check out the movie get their chance to see
it before anyone else.
Exterior of The TCL Chinese Theatre
The theatre has a decadent style and was originally created as the Mann’s
Chinese Theatre then later became the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Now it is
called the TCL Chinese Theatre because it was purchased by the TCL Corporation.
It is located on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, CA and is one of the
many stops tourists must see while they are in the area.
The movie theatre has a magnificent entrance that looks like the front of a
Chinese Pagoda, complete with statues and a massive dragon mural; there is
nothing like this movie theatre. Though it is one of the older theatres in the
area, it has recently undergone an IMAX conversion to show even more movies. It
is declared as a historic landmark and is one of the few places large enough to
host the Oscars as well as other awards ceremonies.
TCL Chinese Theatre stage
By Bobak Ha'Eri, via
2) Elgin and Winter
Garden Theatre Centre
There is nothing quite like the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Center in
Toronto because from the moment you arrive at the theatre, you feel as though
you are being transformed to a different place as well as time. The lighted
front of the building perfectly illuminates the ticketing box that most theatres
don't have any more and it's the perfect way to see the ornately decorated front
doors of the building.
Exterior of The Eglin and Winter Garden Theatre Center
By Huguette Dion, via
As you step inside the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Center, you will be
blown away again. The artwork is something else but it's the leafy ceiling that
will truly captivate your attention and make you feel you are in the jungle
rather than sitting in a comfortable seat waiting for the show to start. This is
one of the theatres everyone should try to experience at least one time in their
life to see how it glorious it is.
While the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Center was made for operatic as
well as ballet performances, that is not all it is used for. The theatre can be
rented out for corporate gatherings and special events of all kinds.
The Eglin and Winter Garden Theatre Center stage
By Anton Bielousov, via
1) Minack Theatre
Those who have never experienced the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, UK don't know
what they are walking into; they might think they are going to any other theatre
but they might feel
as if they've been transported into Roman times. Just looking at the name of the
theatre might give you a better understanding of what to expect, since minack
means rocky place in Cornish. The area itself was a perfect acoustic formation
that was only enjoyed by the gulls until the 1930's.
By Worm That Turned,
via Wikimedia Commons
From 1931 to 1983, Minack Theatre was the place for Rowena Cade to make her
mark on the world. The theatre was carved right into the stone trying to
preserve as much of the natural stone formation as possible. Seeing as the
formation was already acoustically sound, it didn't need much done other than
construct seating. The stage was nothing more than just a flat surface where the
actors could congregate in front of the crowd but they could seen and heard by
every member of the audience. There is limited seating but it doesn't bother the
crowds, who fully enjoy the space.
As you can see, there are many great theatres to visit and enjoy throughout the
world. Whether you are looking to see one of the major performances at the TCL
Chinese Theater or you want to enjoy the much smaller venue of the Minack
Theatre, you can enjoy it all. If you take some time to travel the world you can
see what is out there. Also explore right in your own city to find out about
some of the less famous spaces that are still producing very entertaining art.
Enjoy the building itself or the acoustic properties it utilizes to enhance your
experience and you will be glad you did.
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