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National Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic

On the bank of the Vltava River stands one of the most important architectural monuments of the Czech Republic - the building of the National Theatre (Národní divadlo). It was built during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Official website of the National Theatre describes this theatre as “the embodiment of the will of the Czech nation for its national identity and independence”. This symbol of Czech national revival was built thanks to public donations. The slogan of the construction was the phrase "Nation to itself” (Národ sobě). This slogan, which today is written above the main stage, was not chosen by chance - the building was supposed to host the first theater with Czech language performances. It is also interesting that the principle "for the nation" is also applied to the location of the sitting places for the ordinary citizens. Their places are the best - in the central part of the main hall, while the loggias are located on the sides.

The theater was built from 1867 to 1881. Its architect was Josef Zítek. Unfortunately only two months after the official opening of the theatre its building was severely damaged by fire. The head of the reconstruction of the theater was the student of Zítek - Josef Schulz. Reopening of the building took place in 1883. It is hard to imagine that at the end of the 19th century, when there was no advantageous modern technology, the reconstruction of this huge and beautiful building could be done in such a short period of time.

The theatre is located on the bank of the Vltava River - not far from Prague Castle. This gray building, made of stone, has an oval blue dome, which is crowned by a large crown. This massive gilded crown is contrasting with the grayish stone of the building. The contrast between the modest elegance and grandeur gold crown of the building makes its appearance aristocratic. The facade is decorated with the statues of Apollo and the Muses. Over the side entrance the allegorical statues of Opera and Drama are located.

The building was built in the best traditions of the European neo-Renaissance, but inner decorations also reveal the impact of Slavic mythology on its style. The ceiling of the main hall is decorated with eight "Allegories of art" created by František Ženíšek. The building's interior is richly decorated with gold, velvet and massive chandeliers. The theater has several scenes, where opera, ballet and drama performances are scened.

National Theatre of Prague is not only the symbol of the Czech national revival, but also one of the most beautiful buildings in Prague.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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