National Theatre in Prague
The second half of 19th century is known to Czechs as a period of National Revival. After being many centuries under the reign of Habsburgs (from Austria), Czechs almost lost their own culture. This was the reason why they wanted to support anything national, that would boost the national pride of Czechs, and thus the Czech National Theatre became a symbol of this entire movement.
Its foundation stones were laid on May 16th 1868. And we say stones, plural on purpose. There were foundation stones from all across our country, especially from places significant to our national history. This laying of foundation stones was such an important event, that historians estimate there could have been around 100,000 – 150,000 people present. The foundations were finished by the end of 1868 and by the end of the following year, the great edifice was completed up to rooftop level.
The interior decoration was inspired by scenes from Slavic mythology and the most famous painters of that time participated. The theatre was opened for the first time on June 11th 1881 with a premiere of Libuše – a famous opera by Bedřich Smetana. But then came a great tragedy. During the final works on the roof of the theatre a terrible fire started, which heavily damaged the entire building. This occurred on August 12th, 1881. It devastated the Czech nation. They quickly organized a new collection of funds for restoration and in just 47 days, the full amount (necessary for the restoration) had been gathered. The National Theatre reopened on November 18th, 1883. Since then it has been a constant reminder for Czechs that a great things can be achieved, if they stay united.
Info on the National Theatre in Prague:
Address: Národní 2, Prague
Map Ref.: 50.0812558, 14.4134658
Official website: http://www.narodni-divadlo.cz/en