LisbonLisboaPortugal.com

The best independent guide to Lisbon

LisbonLisboaPortugal.com

The best independent guide to Lisbon

Dona Maria II National Theatre, Lisbon

The Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II is the national theatre of Portugal. The beautiful neoclassical front façade dominates the northern side of Rossio square in central Lisbon. Today the Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II host some of the most spectacular performances of Lisbon but the history regarding the building and location has not always been so enchanting or fortunate.

rossio Lisbon

The grand Dona Maria II National Theatre, Lisbon

The Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II was built in 1846 on the site of the old Palácio dos Estaus palace. The Palácio dos Estaus was initially constructed in 1450 and was used by the Portuguese royal family to host foreign dignitaries and noblemen visiting Lisbon.

History of the Dona Maria II National Theatre

The history and reputation of the Palácio dos Estaus descended into dread and fear during the 16th century and the reign of King john III as the palace was used as the base for the Portuguese inquisitions.

From the state rooms of the palace, men and women were sentence to death, while in the back rooms prisoners were tortured to extract forced confessions which would implicate others as heretics. During the early 19th century the constraints of theatre and literature imposed both by the Portuguese royalty and the influential Catholic Church were loosened and there was an explosion of liberal thinking which is considered part of the liberal revolution.

There was suddenly more writers and actors with audiences willing to view and pay. Lisbon pre 1830 had no suitable venue for the royalty and higher classes to watch the new breed of actors, so under the direction of Queen Maria II the national theatre was constructed. The Palácio dos Estaus, which had survived the 1755 earthquake, had burnt down during a fire in 1836 so it was agreed that the theatre be built in place of the old palace.

Rossio Lisbon

The view of Rossio square and the theatre

The initial plans were draw in 1836 and an Italian architect, Fortunato Lodi, was chosen to design the theatre which was heavily influenced by the neoclassical style of architecture. At the front of the theatre are six massive columns that were rescued from the Saint Francis Convent of Lisbon which had been badly damaged during the earth quake of 1755.

The tympanum of the pediment was decorated with a relief sculpture depicting Apollo and the Muses while the roof was topped by a statue of the Portuguese play writer Gil Vicente. The original interior of the Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II was decorated with works and murals by influential Portuguese and European artists. The main theatre, the Garrett room, was lined with the most sumptuous materials and drapes.

Rossio square lisbon

The Praça Dom Pedro IV square in Lisbon

The theatre was a stunning and regal building completely suited to be the royal theatre but it had taken a whole 10 years before for the royal inauguration in 1846. The first performance to be hosted in the Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II was by the Portuguese Renaissance play writer Gil Vicente (1464-1536). During the inquisition many of Gil Vicente’s plays were banned and readers or performers could find themselves facing punishment at the court housed with the Palácio dos Estaus, which had been converted into the Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II.

All of the original interior and much of the exterior was damaged by a massive fire in 1964. The restoration project was completed in 1978 and faithfully restored the original designs. Since the 1978 the main Garrett room has been hosting the finest examples of Portuguese theatre and productions.

There is a guided tour of the theatre and the back stage area every Monday at 11:30, tickets for this must be pre booked by the previous Friday and cost 6€ for the 1 hour tour. Tickets may be purchased from the main ticket office which also displays the latest listings and performances.

How about a small group tour?

One of the best ways to discover Lisbon and to meet fellow travellers is to join a guided tour. We have worked with Getyourguide.com for the last six years, and some of the best tours of Lisbon include:

Discover more of Lisbon with our most popular guides

top 10 lisbon
Where to stay which district lisbon
3 days in Lisbon
Lisbon Nightlife
Lisbon day trips
lisbon beaches
lisbon for families
1 week in lisbon
48 hours lisbon
Lisbon sunsets
lisbon Portugal guide
Baixa district lisbon
belem distrcit lisbon
lisbon shopping
Secret Lisbon
alfama district lisbon
Cost of a holiday to Lisbon
Parque das Nações district lisbon
Alcantara district lisbon
sintra portugal
Costa da Caparica
Cascais Portugal
24 hours in lisbon
Lisbon viewpoints
lisbon food and meals
lisbon airport guide
wet day in lisbon
Lisbon museums

We Need Your Support
The digital landscape is evolving, and small publishers like us are feeling the pressure. Search engine biases and AI plagiarism have made it increasingly challenging to thrive.
You can make a difference by bookmarking our site for easy access and sharing your favorite articles with others on social media.
If you spot an error, please let us know. With over 1,600 pages to maintain, we greatly appreciate your vigilance.
Please contact us at: [email protected]

A complete list of all of our Lisbon articles

uk - pt es it de fr

LisbonLisboaPortugal.com

The best guide to Lisbon

top 10 lisbon
Where to stay which district lisbon
3 days in Lisbon
Lisbon Nightlife
Lisbon day trips
lisbon beaches
lisbon for families
1 week in lisbon
48 hours lisbon
Lisbon sunsets
lisbon Portugal guide
Baixa district lisbon
belem distrcit lisbon
lisbon shopping
Secret Lisbon
alfama district lisbon
Cost of a holiday to Lisbon
Parque das Nações district lisbon
Alcantara district lisbon
sintra portugal
Costa da Caparica
Cascais Portugal
24 hours in lisbon
Lisbon viewpoints
lisbon food and meals
lisbon airport guide
wet day in lisbon
Lisbon museums

We Need Your Support
The digital landscape is evolving, and small publishers like us are feeling the pressure. Search engine biases and AI plagiarism have made it increasingly challenging to thrive.
You can make a difference by bookmarking our site for easy access and sharing your favorite articles with others on social media.
If you spot an error, please let us know. With over 1,600 pages to maintain, we greatly appreciate your vigilance.
Please contact us at: [email protected]

top 10 lisbon
Where to stay which district lisbon
3 days in Lisbon
Lisbon Nightlife
Lisbon day trips
lisbon beaches
lisbon for families
1 week in lisbon
48 hours lisbon
Lisbon sunsets
lisbon Portugal guide
Baixa district lisbon
belem distrcit lisbon
lisbon shopping
Secret Lisbon
alfama district lisbon
Cost of a holiday to Lisbon
Parque das Nações district lisbon
Alcantara district lisbon
sintra portugal
Costa da Caparica
Cascais Portugal
24 hours in lisbon
Lisbon viewpoints
lisbon food and meals
lisbon airport guide
wet day in lisbon
Lisbon museums