The Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona’s most prestigious opera house, was founded on the popular Las Ramblas street in 1847. Since then it has become an integral part of Barcelona’s culture and has housed a spectacular array of opera shows performing the likes of Verdi, Wagner, Puccini and Mozart. During its early years, the theatre was the biggest opera house in Europe and is still today one of the most important in the world.
It’s rich history and world-class acoustics make the Liceu Theatre a must see attraction during your stay in Barcelona.
A Little History
The theatre was founded in 1837 to promote musical education in Barcelona (hence its name Liceu, one of the words for ‘school’ in Catalan). In 1861, the theatre was severely damaged by a fire and was rebuilt by Catalan architect Josep Oriol Mestres, who also designed the Barcelona Cathedral. In 1994 the theatre was struck by another fire causing mass amounts of damage, resulting in a number renovations that make the Liceu Teatre what it is today. Some parts of the original building still remain including the main façade on Las Ramblas.
The original purpose of the theatre was to host a whole range of productions. In fact, the opening night saw an historical play, a ballet and a cantata all take to the stage! Today however, the theatre mostly hosts opera and dance shows, with music concerts taking place every now and then. Occasionally you can catch the likes of Swan Lake, Otello (an opera based on Shakespeare’s play Othello) and a tribute to Mozart by Christian Gerhaher. A number of shows take place every week so be sure to take a look at the full schedule on their website.
Take a Tour
If you don’t have time to catch a show during your trip, why not take a guided tour? Guided tours of Liceu take visitors behind the scenes to experience a fascinating insight into life at the theatre. The tour will take you through the vestibule, the auditorium, the hall of mirrors and Liceu’s very own private club known as “el Círculo de Liceo”. Alternatively, you can take an express tour in just 25 minutes and visit the main areas of the opera house.
The Liceu Theatre is ideally located in the heart of Barcelona, half way down Las Ramblas, less than a 10 minute walk from Plaça Catalunya.
Metro Stop: Liceu L3 (Green Line)
Bus: Lines 14, 59 and 91 all stop outside of the theatre, as do the night buses N9, N12 and N15.