If you are seeking a rich cultural experience like no other, consider a theatre trip to Europe. Not only is Europe a hub of world-famous museums and art galleries, but many of its cities are renowned for their plethora of hallowed theaters, symphonic music halls, and opera houses. In addition to enjoying modern and classic performance arts, you will discover firsthand why the spectacular architectures and breathtaking interiors are often the stars of the show.
So grab a virtual ticket and prepare to embark on the following exploration of some of Europe's best-known theatres.
If you travel to Vienna, be sure to include the Burgtheater (aka "The Burg" or National Theatre) on your itinerary. It is Europe's second-oldest performance arts edifice after the Comédie Franca in Paris, France, and graces the Ring Boulevard in the city center.
Built in 1741, the Burg was practically destroyed by fire bombings in 1945 and did not reopen until 1955. Now fully restored, its majestic staircase, lavishly painted ceiling, and ornate décor account for much of its magnificence. Its reputation for reflecting the essence of Viennese culture, however, lies in the fact that all plays are still performed in German. Fortunately for visitors, English subtitles are often available and English tours are offered year-round.
Palais Garnier, Paris
If you enjoy opera or ballet, be sure to catch a performance at the Palais Garnier, or Opéra Garnier, in Paris, France. However even without being a spectator, a trip to what has been deemed an architectural masterpiece is well warranted.
Originally commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III between 1861-1875 and considered until this day a symbol of Paris itself, the 2,000 seating capacity auditorium enjoys approximately 480,000 visitors annually.
Among its many claims to fame are the theatre's mention as the setting for the Phantom of the Opera in Gaston Leroux's 1910 best-selling novel, its Marc Chagall painted ceiling, and its Belle Epoque (Beautiful Era) décor. The interior boasts an 8-tonne crystal chandelier, white marble staircase, and bronze gilded statues that grace the expansive Grand Foyer. Finally, the auditorium itself is shaped so that all audience members, including yourself, can see and be seen.
Shakespeare's Globe, London
In the words of William Shakespeare himself, "All the world's a stage…" And when it comes to global stages, few are frequented as much as Shakespeare's Globe, located in Britain's capital city. Paying homage to the vast treasure chest of plays from The Bard, the playhouse was created with the goal of increasing international understanding of the prolific writer's works, offering visitors an opportunity to participate in workshops, attend staged readings, and lectures, and bring Shakespeare's iconic words to life.
As for its history, the Globe was constructed originally in 1588, only to be demolished in a 1613 fire. After a modern reconstruction in 1997, today the three-story open-air amphitheater is one of London's most popular venues and a must-visit on any theatre trip to Europe.
Gaiety Theatre, Ireland
Located in the capital city of Dublin, the Gaiety Theatre has hosted the gamut of performing arts since opening its doors in 1871. Featuring both classic and contemporary performances (dramas, comedies, dance, opera, musicals, and more), be sure to book a ticket as you plan your dream trip to Europe.
The Colosseum, Rome
Although 'the show no longer goes on' at the famed Roman Colosseum, it is a historical landmark of epic proportions visited by thousands annually. In fact, the magnificence of its architecture is so striking that in 2007 the amphitheater was declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
In its heyday, the open-air arena was home to violent gladiatorial games, mock naval battles, and other forms of ancient Roman entertainment. With the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the dramas were deemed uncivilized and banned.
Made from brick with a seating capacity of over 50,000 spectators, the amphitheater measures 188 meters in length, 156 meters in width, and 57 meters in height.
And here's an insider's tip for your stay in Rome: Entrance fee to the Colosseum includes access to two more adjacent museums, the famed Roman Forum and the Palatine.
Great Theatre – Epidaurus, Greece
There’s a somewhat understated grandeur to Greece’s Great Theatre. This has everything to do with the fact that it dates back to 340 BC. It may lack the frills, glitz, and glamour of many you’ll find elsewhere in Europe, but spend some time here and you’ll start to see an ancient marvel come to life. Although it’s more of a historical relic than an established venue these days, the roofless theater mixes perfectly with the natural surroundings. It’s not hard to imagine an ancient performance with ornate costumes, detailed sets, and theatrical rituals captivating a packed crowd.
Discover the drama of Europe’s most famous theatres
Whether it’s the cinema, opera, or the theatre that satisfies your cultural fix, Europe is the birthplace of some of the world’s most famous and established theatrical venues. Lose yourself in the moment as you enjoy some dramatic moments in the continent of culture
If you fancy a quick coffee and cake before a performance (or tour), the Burgtheater’s immediate neighbor belongs to that long list of traditional institutions that makes Vienna the coffee house capital of the world.
If you are planning an extended Europe trip, and plan to visit multiple locations, there are a few more things that you may want to consider to make your travel easier; make sure that your visas are approved by all the countries you will be visiting, contact a luggage service to transport all your belongings from location to location, be sure to set up your cell plan so that you can make calls while in Europe, and don't forget to buy travelers insurance.
Whether you are a theatre aficionado or a newcomer to the wonderful world of performance arts, Europe is definitely the place to go to see a play or to simply bask in the experience of this rich artistic tradition. As you embark on your theatre trip to Europe, we wish you safe landings and Bon Voyage!