There is one very confusing thing about the National Theatre for Prague visitors. After buying a ticket on the official website of the National Theatre, you can end up in a completely different building than you've expected. Pay attention to the names of buildings below the name of the performance. You can end up in:
Theatres, where performances take place, will change based on the season and current reconstructions. If you specifically want to see an opera or a ballet, because you want to experience the beautifully decorated spaces of the National Theatre or The Estates Theatre, we strongly recommend checking out the location of the event before buying the tickets! Not knowing that performance locations change could be a big let down.
Czech theaters and operas don't have strict dress code rules, so if you forgot to pack a suit or an evening gown, no worries! Just wear the fanciest outfit that you've got with you, but even jeans and a simple dress will do. Prague has a lot of tourists and we do not expect everyone to have a stack of ironed shirts in their backpacks ;)
However, if you did bring your high heels and a fancy outfit, you can dress up for your National Theatre visit! You will see that many Prague locals do it as well.
The foundation stone of the National Theatre was ceremonially laid on the 16th of May 1968.
What makes this monument stand out among other buildings in Prague is that the money for the construction came from a public collection, that inhabitants of all social classes have contributed to. The largest amount of funds came from the lower class, whose small individual donations amounted to the most in the end.
The construction of the National Theatre has become a pinnacle of national awakening during the period of the Czech National Revival, a period during which Czechs aimed for cultural, linguistic, and historic self-determination and revolt against the oppressive rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The construction of the National Theatre was finished in 1881 but just before the official opening, which was planned for the 11th of September 1881, the theatre burned down.
A new collection for the construction of the National Theatre was started, already during the night of the fire. A few years later, in 1883, the theatre was finally finished and opened for its first performance, opera Libuse from Bedrich Smetana.
In the second half of the 20th century, additional buildings, such as the New Stage, were constructed on the same square.
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Author: Valeriia Zahradnikova and Vaclav Zahradnik, Prague guides certified by Prague City Tourism agency. Valeriia and Vaclav have worked in tourism for over 6 years and have guided thousands of Prague visitors.