A major landmark along Prague’s Vltava river, the National Theatre (Národní Divadlo) is one of the city’s most culturally important landmarks, with a rich artistic tradition. Built in the late 19th century in neo-Renaissance style, it hosts a regular program of works of both classic and modern theater, ballet, and opera. The Basics
For the people of the Czech Republic the National Theatre is more than just a performance space. It was built at a time when the country was wishing to free itself from its Austrian rulers and represents a desire to explore Czech culture and national identity. After funding for the theatre was turned down by government in Vienna, the city of Prague appealed to its citizens for help and construction was entirely financed by donations from the Czech people.
Completed in 1881, the building was designed by architect Josef Zitek. It was destroyed by fire almost as soon as it had opened and the grand gilded interior had to be fully rebuilt, finally opening to the public two years later. In 1983, a modernist-style glass annex designed by architect Zdenek Vavra was added to mark the theatre’s 100th anniversary. The National Theatre is a popular stop on guided walking, biking, and Segway sightseeing tours and river cruises in Prague. Things to Know Before You Go
- Some performances have English subtitles.
- The box office opens 45 minutes before the start of each performance.
- Guided tours of the auditorium must be organized in advance and are by paid ticket only.
- The auditorium is only accessible via staircase so may not be suitable for people with limited mobility.
How to Get There
Prague’s National Theatre is located at 2, Narodni Street, on the right bank of the Vltava river. It is easily accessible on foot from other areas in the city center, or as part of a guided walking, bike, or Segway tour. The theatre has its own underground parking (paid). The Narodni metro station (Line B) is a short walk away, and trams #2, #9, #17, #18, and #22 stop nearby. When to Get There
The theatre hosts regular performances of opera, ballet, and theater, sometimes with English subtitles—check with the box office for details. To see the auditorium, you will need to buy a ticket to a performance or attend as part of a guided tour. The exterior of the building is free to view at any time and visitors can walk into the lobby free of charge. Explore the River’s Garden Islands
Right in front of the theater is the Legion Bridge that leads to one of Prague’s unique features: the "garden island" of Strelecky Ostrov. One of three small islets that act as green spaces in the city, visitors can stroll or cycle along the paths or enjoy a classic Czech lager at one of the riverside cafes in the park. The other islands of Detsky Ostrov and Slovansky Ostrov are also close by.