National Theatre Prague – Our heritage and reminds of the hard times

The idea of creating the National Theatre Prague was a question of our honor and pride

The National Theatre Prague is our national heritage and still reminds us of the hard times, which had to go through in the past. This huge neo-Renaissance building lies on the right bank of the Vltava River and can be seen almost from any place along the river.

The idea of creating the National Theatre was a question of our honor and pride was a question of our honor and pride. Desire to have our own theatre grew stronger until the application for building permit was approved in 1845. But there was a big problem – there wasn´t enough money for building it. So, the initiators (for example František Palacký) decided to arrange large national collections that should have gathered necessary money for the theatre. However, another unexpected troubles appeared, the political situation changed and building had to be postponed. In 1862, The Provisional Theatre according to Ignác Ullman´s project was erected instead. Fortunately, the situation in the country changed and the foundation stone of the National Theatre was laid on the 16th May 1868.

The author of the National Theatre Prague

The author of the National Theatre building was Josef Zítek. The theatre was finished (not completely) in 9 years, the interior designed and decorated Czech famous artists as Mikoláš Aleš, František Ženíšek or Josef Václav Myslbek. On the 11th June 1881, the theatre was solemnly opened. After few performances it was closed again because the rest of the work had to be done.

Big fire in National Theatre Prague

During this work, a disaster came. A big fire broke out on the 12th August in the same year. Large part of the building succumbed the fire, copper dome was destroyed. But people didn´t give up, organized a second collection and on the 18th November 1883, the National Theatre stood again. The architect J. Schulz, Zítek´s follower, was in charge. Opera Libuše from Bedřich Smetana was performed during the opening day.

It was opened till 1977, when it had to be closed again because of another reconstruction. The ceremonial opening took place on the 18th November 1993, performing opera Libuše for the second time. In the same year, the modern complex called the New Stage was added. The space between the National Theatre and Voršilský klášter (Voršilský Monastery) had to be filled. During the 20th century many architectural competitions were held. The winner in the 60s became Bohuslav Fuchs, but he died before the building was done. Then in 1980 a stage designer Josef Svoboda came with his project. His proposal took the New Stage as the seat of Laterna magika. But he wasn´t the only one who was given the task, there was Karel Prager either. In the end, Prager was the winner who was responsible for the New Stage and designed it all.

Laterna magika Prague is located at the New Stage from 1992. There is so called Piazzeta of the National Theatre Prague next to the New Stage. The New Stage has been using this place for performances during summer months.