A Pedacito of Bueno Aires' Teatro Colón
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
I was inspired to visit the Teatro Colon when I visited a similar theater in Costa Rica. The guide of that theater kept referring to that theater as a smaller version of the Teatro Colon. So, when I was in Buenos Aires, I decided to go check it out one morning.
It was a beautiful morning and I didn't have much on the agenda for the day. After having a small breakfast at a cafe next to my hotel in the metropolitan area, I walked over to the biggest road I think I've ever seen: Avenida 9 de Julio. I'll share more about that jaw-dropping thoroughfare in a more in-depth post about Buenos Aires.
The Teatro Colon translates to the Columbus Theater and is considered one of the best (and most important) opera houses and concert theaters in the world. The present-day location in front of Plaza Lavalle is actually the second location for the theater, constructed in 1888 in the Plaza de Mayo. The current theater, inaugurated in 1908, took 20 years to build and contains the finest construction materials imported from around the world.
The theater hosted many important events throughout its history but was seen more as a utility facility than an important architectural or historic building in Buenos Aires. In 2005 the theater began a 3 year, $100 million, renovation in an effort to restore it to its original splendor. And wow, this place is truly spectacular!
The common spaces exude European opulence! The structural elements are also artistic architectural features. There are columns, exquisitely hand-carved crown molding, beautiful filigree to fill what would otherwise be bare wall spaces, and early 20th-century light fixtures. Natural light fills the voluminous spaces through handmade stained glass windows and column pillars feature angelic statues.
One of the grandest spaces, before entering the theater itself, is a long narrow room intended for entertaining esteemed guests before or after a show. This hall also has some examples of period furniture, decorations, and even a few unrestored areas to shows the incredible difference between restored and unrestored walls.
The theater has many levels, so there are lots of stairs. However, an elevator was added to help guests access each of the levels, and I just thought it looked super cool.
Once you enter the theater you can only imagine how guests in the early 20th Century would have felt. It is grand, and beautiful, and has some amazing acoustics! Each level had period light fixtures but recent upgrades allow for more precise control. The orchestra floor was one of the first to allow for raising and lower for added flexibility and as a way to surprise guests.
The center of the ceiling has an amazing chandelier which can actually be lowered for maintenance. The ceiling around the chandelier has a gorgeous mural and there are additional murals and sculptural elements concentric to the chandelier. Each of the levels has beautiful wood carvings, painted gold, which really adds an additional layer of elegance and luxury.
I recommend visiting this important theater if you have a couple of hours to spare. I think it was about $8 for the guided tour and you get to access areas that the normal visiting public cannot. I heard that there was one tour that allows you to go into the orchestra pit, so you should check that out if you are in this wonderful city. The Teatro Colon is definitely one of the crowning jewels of Buenos Aires!
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