Travel - Locations
By: - at November 2, 2013

Top 15 Most Famous Theatres in the World

The Sydney Opera House at night
By Steve Collis, via Wikimedia Commons

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 world today.

15)  Boston Opera House
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 corner.

Exterior of The Boston Opera House
The Boston Opera house is in Boston, Massachusetts.

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 anything.

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
The interior of the Boston Operah house is adorned in red and gold.

14)  Palau de la Música Catalana
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 Palau de la Música Catalana is located in Spain.

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
The Palau de la Música Catalana has an ornate interior.
By Josep Renalias, via Wikimedia Commons

13)  Sydney Opera House
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 venue.

Exterior of The Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is located in Sydney, Australia.

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
The Sydney Opera house has a unique interior.
By Koika, via Wikimedia Commons

12)  Palacio de Bellas Artes
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
Palacio de Bellas Artes is also known as the Palace of Fine Arts; it is located in Mexico City, Mexico.

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 artistic monument.

11)  Odeon of Herodes Atticus
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 Odeon of Herodes Atticus is located in Athens, Greece.

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 Hall
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 located in South Kensington, which is in London, UK.

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
Royal Albert Hall was contructed with a royal purpose in mind.
By Yuichi, via Wikimedia Commons

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
Teatro Amazonas, also known as Amazon Theatre, is located in Brazil.
By LecomteB, via Wikimedia Commons

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 house.

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
The inside of the Teatro Amazonas is decorated in red and gold.

8)  Radio City Music Hall
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 is in NYC, New York.

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
Radio City Music Hall was first dubbed the International Music Hall .
By flickr4jazz, via Wikimedia Commons

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 constructed.

Exterior of The Palais Garnier
Palais Garnier in Paris, France is also known as Garnier Palace.
By Eric Pouhier, via Wikimedia Commons

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
The Palais Garnier is used to house the Paris Opera Library and Museum.
By scarletgreen, via Wikimedia Commons

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 public.

Exterior of The Teatro Solis
Teatro Solis, or Solis Theatre, is the oldest theatre in Uruguay and was built in 1856.
By unkown, via Wikimedia Commons

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 received.

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
Teatro Solis is owned by the government of Montevideo.
By Marcos Mendizábal, via Wikimedia Commons

5)  Les Celestins – Theatre de Lyon

Les Celestins stage
Les Celestins has been the destination for those looking to watch successful operatic performances.

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 row.

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 porticos.

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
The theatre de Lyon is also called Les Celestins and it's the centerpiece for art in Lyons, France.

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
Chicago Theatre is in Chicago, Illinois.
By Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons

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
Chicago Theatre was originally created to be the flagship theatre for the Balaban and Katz group

3)  TCL Chinese Theatre
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 TCL Chinese Theatre is in Hollywood, California.

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
The TCL Chinese Theatre is one of the most iconic movie theatres in the United States
By Bobak Ha'Eri, via Wikimedia Commons

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
The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Center in Toronto, Canada.
By Huguette Dion, via Wikimedia Commons

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
The Eglin and Winter Garden Theatre Center has an ornate stage.
By Anton Bielousov, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Minack Theater
Minack Theatre is in Cornwall, UK
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.

Final Words
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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