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Sometimes lost amongst the other Copenhagen visitor attractions like the nearby Kastellet or Amalienborg Palace, the Royal Theatre House is an opulent building in its own right, featuring a lavish circular auditorium that has long been the city’s defacto center for culture. Sometimes called the Copenhagen Opera House, it was first constructed in the 18th century, its sole intention to become Denmark’s national stage – and though dramas are routinely put on here, it is the ballet and opera that have found the Royal Theatre world renown.
The stage itself is a historic landmark, having first seen the bright lights in 1874, and for years it has been host to thousands of performances by The Royal Danish Theatre, Royal Danish Opera and Royal Danish Ballet. Though many of these productions have subsequently moved to the new Royal Opera House on Holmen, the Royal Theatre stands as a testament to the art of the past. There are still plenty of shows here per year, from the famed ballets to plays, many of them performed in Danish. They go on for 11 months of the year, skipping the month of July, which finds Copenhagen using the main stage as its feature venue during its annual jazz festival.
As a Copenhagen visitor attraction, however, its architecture is what makes the Royal Theatre stand out – based primarily on the Opera house in Paris, it seems slightly out of place in regards to the more understated Danish buildings, but its intrinsic flair for the dramatic is almost too perfect for the Copenhagen Opera House. The proceedings are dutifully overseen by two bronze statues depicting famous Danish dramatists, Adam Oehlenschlager and Ludvig Holberg.
An annex was added to Copenhagen Opera House, colloquially known as “The Nesting Box,” in 1931, and it was the last addition to the Royal Theatre that was actually finished. The construction of the Royal Opera House on Holmen has stood in the way of recent renovations, giving the interior of the Theatre an oddly unfinished feel.
Though it is unlikely that it will fall from the list of Copenhagen visitor attractions due to its historical importance, the prominence that the Royal Theatre once enjoyed has all but vanished. Its renaissance design is still celebrated, however, and its location is still right in the midst of most walking tours of Copenhagen, so if you have a spare moment or two, a cursory look over the Royal Theatre Square is heartily suggested. Guided tours are offered throughout the year, showcasing the history behind the theater and surrounding square, including both the construction of the theater and its place in Denmark”s cultural heritage.
MORE – THEATRE SQUARE
Click here for a virtual tour of the Royal Theatre Square.