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Opera Garnier :: Paris, France

March 11, 2010 by  
Category: Attractions

Opened in 1875, Opera Garnier is an amazing example of Neo-Baroque architecture at its finest. Designed by a then unknown French architect Charles Garnier, Opera Garnier has served throughout the years as one of the principal venues for Parisian Opera and Ballet. It is known by many names such as Opera de Paris, Palais Garnier, and Paris Opera, with its most official name being Académie Nationale de Musique. It is the thirteenth theater to house the Paris Opera since it was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV. The theater was built over a fifteen year span on the orders of Napoleon III as part of a reconstruction project. Construction was interrupted due to numerous incidents and issues including the extremely swampy land it was built on, the 1870 war and the fall of the Second French Empire. Some claim that the classic novel, The Phantom of the Opera, was inspired in part by a unfortunate incident in 1896 when a counter weight for the grand chandelier fell, killing one person. In 1994 work began to update and modernize the facilities while restoring and preserving the décor.

The building design was an architectural inspiration for the next thirty years with several buildings in Poland, Ukrane, Brazil and the United States being modeled after the Opera Garnier. It is lavishly decorated with intricate marble friezes & columns; it also has a amazing assortment of statues that include Greek mythological dieties. The columns in the theater’s front façade are intertwined with bronze busts of famous composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Meyerbeer and Spontini. The theater accommodates an audience of approximately 2,200 and they are seated under an amazing central chandelier, its stage is large enough to allow for up to 450 artists. The Opera Garnier also is home to a library/museum that conserves records of the buildings past. Throughout the year it hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions that feature paintings, photographs and even scale models of stage sets.

The Opera Garnier is open to the public from 10 am through 5 pm (last admission 4:30 pm) and is closed on January 1st, May 1st and during special events. Admission to Opera Garnier will cost you around $12, group, student and senior discounts are also available. Guided tours in French and English are available for around $16 on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays; tickets can be purchased at the box office. The Opera Garnier is truly a delight for the eyes, impressive at first sight from the outside but truly amazing once you enter its lavish confines. It is definitely a must see attraction when visiting Paris.

Rick Steves' France 2012
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Retail Price: $24.99
Amazon Price: $2.94

Special Thanks to Gordon Brown for providing these amazing photos of Opera Garnier
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