Gran Teatro De La Habana "Alicia Alonso"
The Gran Teatro de la Habana, or the Havana Grand Theatre, is without a doubt one of the most iconic buildings in the city—a true jewel in Havana’s crown. From the moment you lay eyes on the structure, with its striking neo-baroque archways and its white marble angels reaching out towards the heavens, you’ll be sure to understand why.
The site where the Grand Theatre currently stands was home to a theatre as early as 1838—but not this one! The original theatre on this spot, called The Great Tacón Theatre, was demolished in 1907 to make room for this one.
Construction began on what was first known as the Palace of the Galician Centre in 1908. The name came from the fact that the building was funded primarily by Havana’s then-large Galician immigrant community to act as a sort of meeting place and reunion hall. In 1915 the building was opened, featuring 97 allegorical sculptures by the Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti.
Over the course of the those days, its stages were graced by some of the biggest artistic names of their day. These include performers such as tenors Tita Ruffo and Enrico Caruso, sopranos Adelina Patti and Victoria de los Angeles, dancers Carmen Amaya and Antonio Gades, and the list goes on and on.
In 1965, not long after the Cuban Revolution, the theatre became the permanent home of the Cuban National Ballet. Alicia Alonso, who founded the group in the 1940s, is still the head of the company today! Though it’s possible to catch ballet shows at the theatre year-round, if you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the biannual International Ballet Festival of Havana you’re in for a real treat—this is one of the world’s longest-running and most highly-regarded festivals celebrating the art form. Additionally, the Havana Grand Theatre is also home to the Cuban National Opera.
But even if you’re not into the “classical” arts, don’t fret—there are still opportunities for you to enjoy a show in one of Cuba’s most spectacular settings. From contemporary dance to symphonies to plays, there’s something going on here just about every weekend, usually for a very fair price somewhere between $10-20 CUC.
As one of the most impressive architectural gems and most active art venues found anywhere in the city, it can be stated clearly—the Gran Teatro de La Habana simply should not be missed while you’re visiting Cuba’s capital city.
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