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Liceo de Barcelona, the city’s most prestigious theatre

By | 14 November, 2018 | 0 comments

Barcelona has always been a great venue for all things culture, something that can be palpably felt throughout the city and in its very soul. On the city’s streets, you’ll see an enormous range of building’s that are fundamental to the cultural life of Spain, including the famed Gran Teatro del Liceo. For over a century, it was the largest capacity theatre in all of Europe, an answer to Barcelona’s great fondness for opera.The result was a magnificent modernist building that has welcomed some of opera’s biggest voices over the years.But the story of Liceo is not just about the world of performing arts, it has also been the scene of a number of unfortunate incidents that have influenced the building’s very structure over the years.

Liceu de Barcelona

Located on Barcelona’s main artery, la Rambla, at numbers 51-59, you’ll find El Gran Teatro del Liceo de Barcelona, known more fondly to locals as El Liceo.This indisputable symbol of the city was first opened in 1847 thanks to a number of private donations.You can see clues to this mode of financing throughout the building, given there is no royal box, as most other opera houses that have them were funded by the monarchy.However, opera certainly retained a somewhat elitist nature, as reflected in the layout of the seating.The upper classes, nobility, politicians and Catalan bourgeoisie would occupy the higher tiers, whilst the lower levels of society would occupy the fourth and fifth levels of the theatre.Furthermore, their entrance was located around on Calle San Pablo.

El Liceo incidents

Of the initial structure, only the entrance on La Rambla and the hall of mirrors remains today.Liceo’s image has undergone significant changes over time, mostly due to a number of events that have taken place here over the years, including some that truly stand out:

– Fire of 1861:El Liceo was rebuilt under the direction of Josep Oriol Mestres following the fire, respecting the original decoration and style, in just one year.

– Anarchist attack of 1893: a bomb dropped onto the stalls by the anarchist Santiago Salvador caused the death of 20 concert goers. 

– Expropriation and nationalisation of 1936: coinciding with the Spanish Civil War, the theatre was expropriated and soon after became the Teatro del Pueblo Catalán.Nationalisation only lasted around three years and in 1939 the theatre returned to the hands of its former owners. 

– Fire of 1994: a fire broke out having been caused by the sparks of a torch from two workers repairing the curtain.The fire shocked Catalan society and the world of culture as a whole as they watched this great symbol of Barcelona burn down. Institutions, companies and numerous private individuals financed the rebuilding work and, in just five years, El Liceo saw its curtain rise once again. 

Currently, the Gran Teatro del Liceo de Barcelona is one of the biggest and most prestigious theatres in the world.It has five amphitheatres and 2,292 seats,and a visit to the opera, a dance or musical performance can be one of the most magical experiences for anyone in the city.It’s possible to explore El Liceo even further with three different types of visit:

– Guided tours: visit the lobby, the concert hall, the hall of mirrors, the foyer and the Liceo circle.Tours cost €16.

– Express visits: costing just €6, you can see the lobby, the concert hall, the hall of mirrors and the foyer.

– Premium visits behind the scenes: designed for groups of around 20 people, premium visits take in all the comings and goings of El Liceo as you’re shown around by a specialist tour guide.You’ll be able to see all the backstage areas, dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces.Tickets cost €300.

Categories: barcelona

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