The Grand Theater and National Opera

The Grand Theater is one of the most remarkable buildings in Warsaw. It was designed by Italian architect Antonio Corazzi, who moved to Poland in 1818 from Tuscany. He designed approximately fifty buildings, but The Grand Theater is probably his most outstanding work.

At the time it was the most modern theater building in this part of Europe. Corazzi’s design is very similar to the famous Schauspielhaus, designed by Carl Friedrich Schinkel, built just a few years earlier on Gendarmenmarkt Square in Berlin (1817–1821). The Grand Theatre was inaugurated on 24 February 1833 with Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville”.

The building was almost entirely demolished during WWII. During the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 the Germans were killing civilians in its ruins. Th façade of the theater remained and we can still admire it. The theater was rebuilt and expanded by another outstanding architect Bohdan Pniewski between 1951-1965. He was an architect of the State designing important building such as Polish Parliament, National Bank of Poland, Ballet School and many others. The reconstruction of the Grand Theater is considered his biggest achievement.

The façade is decorated with a beautiful sculpture of Apollo riding in a quadriga drawn by horses. This sculpture was Corazzi`s idea, but the platform made for it remained empty for 200 years. In 2002 the sculpture was finally designed by professors at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts.

After admiring the facade, you can enter the building to see the breathtaking interiors of Pniewski created in the 1950s. The architect combined modernist elements with soviet-like richly ornate palaces. Following the reconstruction it contained the largest opera stage in the world. These days the largest opera stage in the world is in China.

In the past the Theater Square was the center of entertainment and cultural life of Warsaw with many other theaters, cabarets and restaurants. Unfortunately these days it`s just a big parking. In my opinion there should be a garden instead like on pictures below. Thankfully the city is planning to build an underground parking in the area. I hope in future this square will belong to people again.