Do you want to spend your next holiday in the south of Italy? Visiting the San Carlo Theater in Naples is an essential stopover to take a look, so follow the guide!
The San Carlo Theater in Naples is an architectural masterpiece of great beauty that must be visited during a stay in the Campania region, in southwestern Italy. It is the oldest opera house still in operation today and one of the most prestigious in Europe. Built in 1737, it has been home to the most famous opera singers since that time and many performances take place regularly. While it is impressive from the outside, the interior is even more sumptuous, with a velvet decoration in red and gold colors. Every day, guided tours are organized to visit the San Carlo Theater.
Whether you are a theater lover or just a tourist in Naples, this monument is a must see. Tickets, fares and schedules, we tell you everything you want to know about this building steeped in history.
History of the San Carlo Theater
The San Carlo Theater was built in 1737 at the request of King Charles III of Bourbon, who wanted to make Naples a city of power, also ordering the construction of the Palace of Capodimonte, renovating the contemporary Royal Palace and of course, starting the construction of the crown jewel of Neapolitan Palaces, the Palace of Caserta. At the time, the main theater was the Teatro San Bartolomeo (now transformed into a church), which quickly gave way to the one we all know. Under the direction of the director of this former theater and the Spanish architect Giovanni Antonio Medrano, San Carlo was built in just eight months. On November 4, 1737, the inauguration took place.
Pietro Metastasio’s opera Achille in Sciro was the first performance. Over the years, several major renovation projects have been carried out. First, for the marriage of the King of Naples in 1767, then for the restructuring of the neoclassical façade in 1809 by Antonio Niccolini. But on February 13, 1816, a fire broke out, devastating a large part of the building. This same architect is in charge of the reconstruction. Nine months later, the monument seems to have kept all its authenticity, with the addition of a royal lodge. Today, the historic monument is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The large hall has six floors of boxes and can accommodate 1,300 people arranged in horseshoes. Many events take place throughout the year: plays, dance ballets, singing recitals, but also exhibitions, conferences and private receptions.
What to see and do at the San Carlo Theater in Naples?
The historical room
It is the main piece, where all performances have been performed for 300 years. The decor is just sumptuous, with its red and gold colours that make this horseshoe-shaped room a luxurious and warm place. On the ceiling, we can see a magnificent fresco by Giuseppe Cammarano. It is Apollo who presents the most famous poets in Athena. The auditorium has six floors of dressing rooms, with a capacity of 1,300 seats. The spectators of the Royal Lodge have the privilege of having the best location, in front of the stage.
The Hall of Mirrors
This modern room, also called the Foyer or Salone degli Specchi, is reserved for major events and receptions. Ideal for a wedding, it also regularly welcomes the general public for dinners, conferences or solidarity days. Its capacity is 300 seats and 700 standing places. Why is it called the Hall of Mirrors? Quite simply, because there are many mirrors on the walls. Just look out the window to see the gardens of the Royal Palace of Naples.
The opera café Scaturchio
To visit the San Carlo Theater properly, you must take the time to immerse yourself in the surroundings. For this, what could be better than to eat at the opera café Scaturchio, located in the entrance hall. The San Carlo Theater and the Scaturchio Neapolitan pastry shop open the doors of this elegant lounge, open every day from 8am to 9pm. Before or after the visit, a small coffee, an aperitif or lunch will do you the most good.
The Museum of Memory and Music, opened in 2011, is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the history of the San Carlo Theater in Naples. It gathers all the historical archives on a surface of 300 square meters. There are exhibitions, a 3D virtual gallery, a library and a meeting room. If you are interested, you can also consult a whole bunch of documents and multimedia testimonies.
How to get to the San Carlo Theater in Naples?
The exact address of the San Carlo Theater is: via San Carlo, 98 / F, 80132 Naples. It is located in the San Ferdinando district, very close to Piazza de Plescito and the Royal Palace.
By public transport, here is the nearest stop to the theater:
R2 (from the main station), stop San Carlo or R3 (from Mergellina station), stop Piazza Municipio
line 1, stop Toledo
the central station, Augusto stop
Schedules and prices of the San Carlo Theater
To visit the San Carlo Theater, there are two possibilities. Either you attend a performance or you take the 45-minute guided tour.
Of course, the first option is certainly the best if you really want to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the room. Especially since the prices are reasonable and vary according to the performance and the day of the week, you will see that the Neapolitans are dynamic spectators.
If opera and theater are not your cup of tea, the guided tour should satisfy you.
The theater is open every day from 10am to 5.15pm, the last admission being at 4.30pm.
Visits must be made with a guide in English or Italian, depending on the schedule:
- English: 11:30 am and 3:30 pm
- Italian: 10:30, 12:30, 14:30 and 16:30
Note: Allow about 45 minutes for the visit. It is advisable to make a reservation. A visit to the multimedia museum of the MeMUS theater is also possible.
- Full price ticket: €9
- Under 30 years old: 7€
- Over 60 years old: 7€
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Is there a dress code required?
You don’t have to wear fancy clothes, with a dress or suit. The most important thing is to feel comfortable, while wearing the right outfit.
Is there disabled access?
Yes, the entrance is via Piazza Trieste e Trento. There are ramps and elevators specially designed for wheelchairs. People with a 100% disability benefit from free admission. In this case, the accompanying person must take a ticket at the normal fare.
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