For those rainy afternoons, tour the 1000 seat Teatro Nacional (National Theater). Completed in 1894 at the height of Costa Rica’s coffee and banana wealth, its stone exterior is eye-catching and its interior will take your breath away. Just stepping into the lobby with its Italian pink marble and gold trim makes you think you've stepped across the ocean to Europe. It hosts a Viennese-style café run by Café Britt, the same people that you’ll be buying souvenirs from at the airport. Enjoy coffee, tea or lunch while taking in the painted ceiling or local art exhibits.
This theatre was built in 1897 and is considered as San Jose's Architectural gem. It was designed by Belgian architects and decorated by Italian artists. With its 1,000 seating capacity, it is still being used today for performances which can limit your ability to visit inside.
The nacional theatre on the 'plaza de la cultura' is for me, the most beauitifull building in the country. If you're spending a day in the capital, not passing by would be a mistake.
The concerts and drama's performed are an inexpensive and a good alternative to a 'cinema-evening'. Note that the're no performances in a great part of february and march.
In the building you've a verry nice athmospheric, but unfortunately expensive bar where you can enjoy a Costa Rican Coffee. Just in front of the theatre you also have the terrace of the 'gran hotel'. Neither cheap, but it is the only (nice) terace of the country and the view on the theatre is also admirable.
To me, the most beautiful building in San José. The National Theater, first opened in 1897, is important for not only its artistic treasures (the baroque architectonic style, following the model of the Paris Opera House; the decoration in the inside; the Italian paintings, ceiling frescos and sculptures, etc.) but also for their spectacles (the day I went there was a flamenco show). Attending the National Theater is the best way to get in touch with the cultural life in San José.
Located on the south side of the Plaza de la Cultura, Costa Rica's National Theater has been the nation's architectural show showpiece and cultural temple for more than a century. The theater had it's beginnings in 1890, when a European opera company featuring the prima donna Adelina Patti toured Central America but was unable to perform in Costa Rica because there was no suitable venue.
Wealthy coffee barons voted a tax on coffee exports to fund construction of a theater. Craftsmen were brought in from Europe were imported to build the magnificent structure with a classical Renaissance facade. The Theater was inaugurated in October 1897, with a performance of Faust by the Paris Opera and its famous Corps de Ballet.
Statues on the outside of the theater represent Dance, Music, and Fame. The inside foyer is decorated in pink marble with allegorical figures of Comedy and Tragedy. Beautiful murals depict native Costa Rican themes. A giant crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling.
The auditorium floor was designed to be used as a ballroom as well as for performances by a manual winch which can raise the main floor to stage level.
Mon. - Fri. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. - 12:30 and 1:30–5 p.m.
The Smoking Room, on the front second story of the National Theater was so opulent that I thought it deserved a tip of its own. this was the prettiest part of the theater and certainly is in indication that smoking was looked upon more favorably a century ago than it is today.
The room has pink marble with ornate gold trim, green velvet seats, statuary, and murals of naked celestial deities on the ceiling. From the windows of the room there was a very good view of the Plaza de la Cultura, and also the Grand Hotel, across the street from the Theater.
It's really beautiful, both inside and out. See as many shows as you can here and all around San Jose. It's one of the amazing parts of this city. There are ballets, operas, amazing plays, and art shows all the time. The local paper is a great source for these things.
Teatro Nacional has daily tours, and there is a cafe inside.
No doubt that the National Theatre is the prettiest building in San Jose. It has a Renaissance facade with 3 statues on top. The interior is even more intriguing, decorated with life-sized statues in the marble foyer. The theatre was built in late 19th century, and its exterior is currently under renovation.
A 1-hr guided tour of the building is available for a small fee. I would have joined if I didn't have my heavy backpack with me. You can also buy tickets for operas and symphony orchestra performances.
In my opinion the most beautiful building in San José. I should have gone in to see what it looks like, but now it is too late to think of it! The theatre was opened in 1897.
During the day the building is open to the public for viewing from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
The Teatro Nacional is a beautiful old building just off Avenida Colon in downtown San Jose. You can take tours to see the exquisitely decorated and restored rooms of the Theatre or even better, sneak a peak while visiting the theatre for one of the shows. The opera festival is August 4-11 followed up by the music festival. Plays, musical groups and dance troups often visit the Theatre.
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