On Monday, one of the things we did was a tour of the National Theatre (which was being renovated, so it wasn’t really a tour, and we didn’t pay for it because the guard at the entrance wasn’t there) and had lunch there ($12.91 for 2 including tip). I didn't take many photos because everything was shrouded with dust cloths. A photo of the front of the theater as it was then is in the Intro.
A revisit in 2015 - This time the theater was restored and in operation Bob bought tickets. We didn't wait for a tour - just went around by ourselves. We got two stickers to stick on ourselves and the receipt the guard at the door took. They asked us if we wanted to go the 2nd floor, and not knowing if we did, I said yes. So they took us around to a cubbyhole in the wall and there was a small elevator which the guy activated and we went up to the second floor. We looked around. We were allowed to take photos without flash.
We did find the erroneous banana painting that we had been told about (photo 2). The paintings were done by Italian artists who didn't really know anything about Costa Rica or bananas. The bananas are growing pointed down on the stalk instead of as they really grow pointing up. Also the stalks (which are very heavy) were not carried across the chest as in the painting.
This beautiful building (1500 capacity) is their pride and joy. It was built by the government in 1897 with money from coffee taxes, and no expense was spared. There is marble and gold plate everywhere. The chandelier can be lowered to change bulbs, and the seats can be unfastened and raised to turn the theater into a ballroom. There are some “widow boxes” that are entered from outside and have screens on them. The president has a box is in the middle tier (center back) without screens.
The lobby ceiling contains a colorful mural by Aleardo Villa, an artist from Milan, entitled Allegory of Coffee and Bananas. They liked it so much that it was featured on the 5 Colon banknote, but they eventually realized that it cost more than that to reproduce all the colors. (That bill is no longer in circulation, but you can buy it on the street as a souvenir—for a lot more than 5 colones!)
Admission - $5
This is a most remarkable building, constructed at the end of the XIX century to show the improving economy of the country thanks to the export of coffee. Marble was brought from Italy, glasses from France and precious woods. Its interior shows many pretty statues, some of them representing classic works of Spanish dramaturgos (Calderon de la Barca) and an alegoria to the coffee production.
The National Theater of Costa Rica is also located right in downtown San Jose. It is housed inside a very nice building and they put on shows from time to time. Unfortunately we weren't able to take in any during our visit, so I'm not sure about the pricing.
Gorgeous building--when we visited they were having a young ballet troup practicing on the main stage when we peeked inside---we had lunch at the cafe on the left (great people watching of Central Park if you get a window table)---ask to use the toilet and you can slip past the guard and peek inside the theater. They had a wonderful creche outside for the Christmas season....
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The National Theatre is located next to the Plaza de la Cultura and the Museo de Oro Precolumbia y Numismatica (Gold museum). As you enter go to the first door to the right into the gift shop to purchase tickets to tour the building ($3). A brief overview and history of the building are given inside the theatre and then you are free to walk around and check out the beautiful rooms and murals. Cameras are allowed but no flash photography.