The national theater in San Jose is one of the most beautiful buildings in Costa Rica with great importance to the cultural and historical aspect of the country. It opened in 1897, representing Costa Rica’s high degree of fine art and is a grand display of neo-classical architecture.
If you’re staying a day or two in San Jose, then you must visit the National Theater. Even if you’re not an architecture buff, you will be amazed at how beautiful this building is!
National Theater of Costa Rica Schedule
Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM Monday – Sunday
National Theater of Costa Rica Cost
$10 USD for foreigners for the entrance fee. Free for children under 12.
National Theater of Costa Rica Tour
If you’d like a guided tour with the theater, you can fill out inquire at the ticket office.
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the national theater is currently only accepting visitors with pre-purchased tickets which you can buy on their website starting June 1, 2020.*
National Theater of Costa Rica Location
The National Theater of Costa Rica is in San Jose on Avenida Segunda, between Calles 3 and 5 (next to the plaza where all the pigeons are, right above the Gold Museum).
History and Facts of the Costa Rica National Theater
The construction of the theater started in 1891 with the funds coming from a coffee tax since it was their main export at the time. After 7 years of hard work under the direction of an Italian engineer, the theater opened and quickly became Costa Rica’s prized cultural jewel.
Decoration, Ornaments and Design
The inside of the theater is filled with lavish decorations and intricate detail which is so well done, it must have taken some very talented workers to make them all! I’m sure they needed to have a lot of patience to create every single little decoration.
Statues and paintings depicting the Costa Rican lifestyle in the 19th century are placed carefully in the theater, creating a magnificent atmosphere.
The National Symphonic Orchestra performs in the theater as well as other artists, both Costa Rican and foreigners. When there are no concerts going on, visitors can tour the building and see the splendid decor.
As you walk into the seating area, you can’t help but marvel at the theater’s beauty. Sitting down in one of the chairs makes you feel so sophisticated and elegant being in such an exquisite theater. I can only imagine how amazing it is to listen to a symphony here, which I really hope to do one day.
There are several floors of the theater which you can explore. The most impressive room is the foyer where there is a huge painting on the ceiling, delicately carved statues, brilliant chandeliers and gorgeous gold detailing.
Secret in the Painting!
The big painting on the ceiling was especially interesting because there is a little secret to them. If you look at the girl in pink from the right side, walk over to the left and look up at her again, she’s looking the opposite direction from before!
Same with the little kid banging the cylinders, when you walk from one side to the other, he is looking the other way as well!
I love the gold decoration on the doors, I definitely wouldn’t mind having one of these in my future house!
Inaccuracies in the Paintings
There are several paintings of banana farmers since that is also an important resource for Costa Rica. What’s funny is that the painter incorrectly showed a man carrying bananas in his arms when they actually put them on their shoulders.
On the old bills, there are also several mistakes since they were painted by Europeans, not Costa Ricans. When you take the tour, see if you can figure them out!
The National Theater has its own cafe to the left when you enter the building. They have soup, coffee, cake and sandwiches.
Visiting the Theater
We also recommend visiting the Central Market and Municipal Craft Market which you can do on the same day as the National Theater for a full day of sightseeing in San Jose.