D. Maria II National Theater

Teatro Nacional D. Maria II – The home of Portuguese Theater

The D Maria II National Theater or, as it is known in Portuguese, Teatro Nacional D Maria II, is a prestigious theatrical venue and historical building situated on Rossio Square, in Lisbon’s city centre. The Palace of Queen Mary II of Portugal was originally erected on this site but it was razed to the ground, in 1836, by a great fire. The National Theatre was then built on the site due to the efforts of Almeida Garrett, a Portuguese dramatist and poet who was determined to have a national home for Portuguese theatre.

The D Maria II National Theater in Lisbon is not only home to Portuguese theatre, but often hosts art exhibitions and cultural events. Workshops related to the arts are also held periodically. Guided tours in many languages are offered by actors in historical costumes who show visitors intriguing and interesting parts of the building and relate to its history.

The neoclassical Teatro Nacional D Maria II was designed by an Italian architect, Fortunato Lodi, and was built from 1842 to 1846. It remains to this day as the very best example of Palladian neoclassical architecture in Lisbon with its six Greek Ionic style columns supporting its portico. The columns were rescued from Lisbon’s Saint Francis Convent and the triangular pediment depicts sculptures of the Muses and Apollo. Standing tall atop the pediment is a sculpture of Gil Vicente, a noted play writer and renowned as Portugal’s founder of the dramatic arts.

In 1964 the D Maria II National Theater was again devastated by fire and many of the original interior decorations painted in the 19th century, by Portugal’s most famous artists, were badly damaged or lost. Thereafter, the theatre was completely renovated and only reopened in 1978.

Entrance to view the interior of the Teatro Nacional D Maria II in Lisbon is free.

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