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1875 – Théâtre National de l’Opéra, Paris

Architect: Charles Garnier

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This is the thirteenth building to house the Paris Opera since the Opera was founded in 1669. Constructed as part of the great building programme which included the great boulevards of Haussman. Garnier was unknown when he won the competition to design the Opera house, and building work started in 1860. The building opened in 1875.

The building has a magnificent interior as well as a highly decorated exterior. It is totally surrounded by streets, so the complete exterior can be appreciated with a short walk around the perimeter.

The interior of the Opera is incredibly opulent with massive circulation spaces and foyers surrounding the auditorium. The centrepiece is the amazing Grand Staircase with its ornate decoration and massive scale. The stairwell is 30 metres high.

The Grand Staircase leads to the various levels of foyers surrounding the auditorium. Constructed of many different marbles, it has two bronze torcheres at its foot.

Above the staircase is a mass of sculpure and decoration, culminating ina wonderful painted ceiling. A truly awe-inspringing space. Off this is the wonderful Grand Foyer, which runs the width of the building to the front. WIth beautiful tall windows, mirrors and elaborate chandeliers, it resembles the gallery of a clasical chateau. The fine ceiling is by Paul Baudry and portrays themes from the history of music.

The beautiful red and gold auditorium is 20 metres high and contains over 1,900 seats on four levels. With wonderful elaborate detail, the eye is drawn upwards to the massive chandelier. The brightly coloured ceiling is by Marc Chagall.