Teatro Massimo is the largest theater building in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe, after the Opéra National in Paris and the Vienna State Opera. Representation rooms, halls and galleries surround the theater, forming an architectural complex of grandiose proportions.
In the second half of the 19th century, in the light of the new united Italy, Palermo was engaged in getting itself a new identity. The competition for the project of a new opera house had been announced by the Palermo Council in 1864, but the first stone was laid on January 12, 1875, after ten years of vicissitudes.
The project was entrusted to the architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile, known for the restoration of the Cathedral in Acireale. After his death, in 1891, the construction was supervised by his son, the architect Ernesto Basile. For the effective building of the theater, was contracted the architect Giovanni Rutelli, responsible also for the external decorations of the building.
Teatro Massimo opened its doors to the public on the evening of May 16, 1897, with Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff as the inaugural opera. In 1935, the theatre was officially recognized as a public theatre.
In 1974, the theatre was closed for reconstruction works that were supposed to be finished in a relatively short time, but it remained closed for 23 years, until May 12, 1997, when it was reopened.
The exterior, inspired by the Greek and Roman architecture, presents a Corinthian pronaos elevated on a monumental staircase, with two bronze lions on each side. At the top of the building, we can find a huge hemispherical dome.
The interior is decorated and painted by Rocco Lentini, Ettore De Maria Bergler, Michele Cortegiani and Luigi Di Giovanni. The hall has a horseshoe shape, with five tiers of boxes and a gallery.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest bus station is Piazza Verdi, located 50 meters away, on the route of the free shuttle bus Arancione, but also on the bus Lines 104, 108 and 124. If you would like to discover the city on foot, use the map below.