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What you need to know about Prague’s National Theater

prague national theater

With a large number of monuments all over the city, the Czech capital boasts an important and varied cultural heritage. To travel to Prague is to stay in a city where history is majestically displayed in every district. In this article, we’d like to introduce you to a famous theater in the heart of the city. It’s the Prague National Theatre, well known as one of the city’s most beautiful buildings.

Why is the Prague National Theatre so popular?

Národní divadlo, which is simply the National Theater in Czech, is known as one of the most important emblems of Czech culture. Tourists can easily recognize it thanks to its golden roof, affirming the identity of Prague and Bohemia with an architecture reminiscent of the neo-Renaissance style.

With its statues of Apollo and its nine muses, the main entrance to the Prague National Theatre impresses with its details and frescoed glasses. The building’s interior is no match for its exterior, adorned with frescoes and gilded decor to great effect.

The decoration was created by a group of local artists known as the Theatre Generation Group. Its location next to the Vltava overlooks Prague Castle and Petřín Park.

When was the Prague Theatre built?

national theater prague

The first time the doors of the National Theater opened on June 11, 1881, it was in honor of a visit by Archduke Rudolph. Archduke Rudolph was lucky enough to discover the building practically finished, as two months after its inauguration a large part of it was burnt down during the final stages of construction.

This upset Czech society, which, out of patriotism, decided to raise a million florins for the renovation, a considerable sum for the time. After two years’ work under the direction of a famous architect of the time, Josef Zítek, the National Theatre was fully operational in terms of safety, lighting and musical equipment.

This will enable Prague society to attend masterly performances that live up to their expectations, and reaffirm a strong cultural imprint. The building was one of the first public buildings in Europe to be equipped with electric lighting. Today, it’s one of Prague’s must-sees!

When was it renovated?

In November 1983, after a century of performances, the National Theatre reopened its doors after six years of renovation. From then on, three artistic performances were staged: the National Opera, the National Ballet and the National Theatre. Its reputation remains as strong as ever.

When you visit the site, you’ll discover a gilded bronze lamp in the middle of the parterre, weighing two tonnes and standing five meters high with 208 bulbs. This is nothing other than a copy of the original destroyed by fire in 1881, which was cast into commemorative medals and sold to raise funds to restore the theater.

What kinds of shows are staged at the National Theatre?

Whether you’re interested in ballet, opera, magic lantern or drama, the National Theatre offers a varied program all year round. In terms of classical operas, you can attend famous performances such as Carmen, The Bartered Bride, The Marriage of Figaro, Fidelio and many other contemporary operas.

How much does it cost to go to a performance?

Depending on the performance, you should expect to pay between 290 and 490 crowns (or between 11 and 20 euros), which is still a very reasonable price for an extraordinary evening in a highly symbolic venue.

How do I get to the Prague Theatre?

how to get to prague national theater

Given its central location, there are several ways to get there: by metro or streetcar if you’re staying outside the city center. If you get off at the Můstek stop on metro lines A (green) or B (yellow), you’ll need to walk 5 minutes before you see the building’s golden roof.

If you take streetcar lines 2, 9, 18 or 22, just cross the street to see the famous Apollo statues at the building’s entrance. The address of the National Theater is Národní 2, 110 00 Nové Město, Prague 1.

If you’d like to find out more about Prague’s public transport system, we suggest you read our article on the subject, including the city’s subway and streetcar lines.

Our tips for enjoying the city

The Prague National Theatre is one of the city’s must-see monuments, but you’ll also have the opportunity to discover many others, such as Prague Castle, the famous Astronomical Clock, the Charles Bridge, as well as all the capital’s unusual places, which will give you a different view of the city, both visually and in terms of its history.