In the Batalha Square, near the Church of San Ildefonso, the impressive National Theater of the city of Porto is erected.
Built in 1794 but opened in 1798, the Teatro Real São João (named after Prince Juan, future Juan VI of Portugal), was designed by the Italian architect Vincenzo Mazzoneschi under orders from Francisco de Almada e Mendonça. This building was the first in the city of Porto that was built exclusively for the presentation of shows; the first, a comedy, "A Vivandeira".
However, the activity of the Royal Theatre would end up in the hands of Italian operas, whose monopoly of representations in the city lasted until the end of the 19th century.
In April 1908, the theatre suffered a fire that destroyed it, deciding in October of that same year to launch an open competition for its reconstruction. The winning project corresponded to that presented by José Marques da Silva, who created the São Bento train station, in the centre of Porto.
With his French style absorbed at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Marques da Silva managed to combine technical innovation with the traditional styles.
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The theatre found its low ebb in 1932, when the population no longer liked going to see theatrical performances so much, so they made their own slogan "renew or die": it became the São João Cine. Despite this, it entered a strong decline, being acquired by the State in 1992 with the designation of São João National Theatre.
A new restoration and remodelling was carried out between 1993 and 1995, this time designed by the architect João Carreira.
From this moment, the National Theater returned to its original artistic activity, with regular plays, from the classics, such as Shakespeare, to the most modern performances.
Let yourself be seduced by the magic of the theatre in the magical Porto!