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National Theatre

The building of the National Theatre is of eclectic architecture and its facade is on Agiou Konstantinou Street.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1821 - )

    1895 Began the construction with plans by Ernst Ziller, which interrupted for 2 years.

    1901 Completed.

    1903 In a staging that was bold for its time and the language used, a performance of Aeschylus's Oresteia, caused serious clashes between protesting students of the philosophy school and the army, resulting in ten wounded and one dead. The clashes went down in history as "Oresteiaka".

    1908 Ceased to operate with invitations only and was opened to the public.

    1924 Renamed from Royal to National Theatre.

    1942 Many artists were in the National Resistance and came into direct conflict with the Nazi appointed administration, with the result that many were executed.

    1960 Took place the most significant expansion up to Menandrou Street with Vassilis Douras’ plans.

    2005 An exemplary renovation, which lasted four years.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1821)

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)

  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)

  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)

  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)

What I can see

The National Theatre is an eclectic building of Renaissance style with German baroque features, while the Corinthian columns of the façade are reminiscent of Hadrian’s Library. Its placement is considered unsuccessful as it has no free front space to show off the facade and that is why Ziller highlighted the column bases, so as to emphasize on the height difference of the building. Other factors of its poor placement are that the soil is very steep and the building is in a residential zone.

What I can't see

It was and still is an important theatre, because mechanically speaking, had the state of the art for that time and was considered to be one of the most well equipped theatres internationally. Designed with the standards of theatre Ntagkmar Copenhagen (i.e. instead of boxes it has balcony) and internally imitate the decorating layout of the People’s Theatre in Vienna. The constant interferences in the operation of the theatre led to its closure for a period of 20 years and later its periodical operation. The re-establishment as a national theatre by the then minister of education George Papandreou (1930), had educational and cultural objectives. The political interventionism, however, does not cease even nowadays, as the members of the Theatre’s Board are appointed by the government. However, it is an important cultural institution with significant performances.




Yohalas T., Kafetzaki Τ., (2013), Αθήνα, Ιχνηλατώντας την πόλη με οδηγό την ιστορία και τη λογοτεχνία [Athens, Tracing the city guided by history and literature], ESTIA Bookstore

National Theatre (d.u.) Κτίριο Τσίλλερ – Νέα Σκηνή «Νίκος Κούρκουλος», [Ziller Building- New stage “Nikos Kourkoulos”]
Last visit 25/6/2012
Zivas D.A.., (2012), Αρχιτεκτονικός Οδηγός Αθηνών, [Architectural Guide of Athens], Cultural Foundation of Pireos Group
Kaggelari D. (2003), Η θεατρική σκηνή 1940- 1949, [The theatrical stage 1940-1949], in Ιστορία του Νέου Ελληνισμού 1770-2000, [History of Modern Hellenism 1770-2000], v. 8, p.p. 293-302

Cade D., (2013), Αθήνα, η αλήθεια, αναζητώντας το Μάνο Χατζιδάκι λίγο πριν «σκάσει η φούσκα», [Athens, the truth, searching for Manos just before the “bubble burst”], Savvalas

Biris K. H. (1966), Αι Αθήναι από του 19ου εις τον 20ον αιώνα, [Athens from the 19th up to the 20th century], 5th edition 2005, Athens, Melissa

Fessa- Emmanouel E. (2001), Η αρχιτεκτονική του νεοελληνικού θεάτρου (1720-1940), [The architecture of the modern greek theatre (720-1940), Athens

Technical Chamber of Greece, (2000), Athens, London, Paris, TCG,

Last visit 13/6/2020

Unsigned, (2014), Navigating the routes of Art and Culture, Part 1, Athens, Ministry of Culture and Sports