The National Theatre in Prague celebrated the 150th anniversary of the laying of its foundation stone with a performance of folklore groups and the teaching of the old Bohemian polka dance by ballet soloists, who re-enacted the historical events on Saturday.
The laying of the foundation stone for the building of the NG in 1868 became one of the biggest events of the Czech national revival in the 19th century. At that time, it lasted three days and was visited by the estimated 150,000 people.
The idea of building a stately edifice to serve as a theatre was first mooted in the autumn of 1844 at meetings of patriots in Prague. It began to materialize through a request for “the privilege of constructing, furnishing, maintaining and managing” an independent Czech theatre, which was submitted to the Provincial Committee of the Czech Assembly by František Palacký on 29 January 1845.
The most important moment came on May 16, when the granite block from Lounovice, central Bohemia, was tipped by a gilded hammer by “the father of the nation” Frantisek Palacky, prominent Czech politician Ladislav Rieger, actor Josef Jiri Kolar and composer Bedrich Smetana, whose opera Dalibor was premiered on the day.
The National Theatre was opened in 1881. Unfortunately, a few months later a fire broke out in the theatre. This event was seen as a national catastrophe, people felt they should do something and within 47 days one million guldens was collected. The theater was opened two years later in 1883 and serves as the main stage till today.