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10 Most Remarkable Opera Houses in the World / 14 Best Museums in the World

Bolshoi Theatre

10 Most Remarkable Opera Houses in the World

Last updated on April 10, 2014 in Culture | No comments

When it comes to architectural treasures, an opera house is often a city’s most prized gem. The best opera houses weren’t just built to showcase leading tenors, baritones and sopranos but to demonstrate the world that the city had achieved a high level of culture, power and wealth. In addition to providing a highly memorable theatrical experience, opera houses offer an exciting opportunity for travelers to view structures designed by some of history’s most respected architects. Whether attending a performance of a favorite opera or touring the theater, the world’s best opera houses remain popular travel attractions.

10Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatreflickr/Robert Nyman

Rebuilt and renovated multiple times over its long history, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow began life as an unimpressive brick and stone structure built in the 1790s. The current building was designed by architect Andrei Mikhailov and completed in 1824. The Neoclassical theater is richly appointed with Oriental carpets, silk-damask-covered walls and velvet-upholstered chairs. Smaller than many major opera houses, the four balconies and gallery that encircle the orchestra seating make for an intimate experience. A 2011 renovation, rumored to have cost up to one billion dollars, greatly improved the theater’s acoustics.

9Hungarian State Opera House

Hungarian State Opera Houseflickr/jasongerardderose

Designed by Mikós Ybl and completed in 1884, the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest is considered the Hungarian architect’s finest accomplishment. The Neo-Renaissance structure is decorated with paintings and sculptures created by the country’s most-acclaimed artists and features a massive chandelier crafted in bronze. Statues of Franz List and Ference Erkel flank the theater’s entrance. Known for its great acoustics, the theater has attracted world-renowned composers, including Gustav Mahler and Otto Klemperer.

8Metropolitan Opera House

Metropolitan Opera Houseflickr/Listen Missy!

Known simply as the “Met” by opera lovers all over the globe, the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York City is as famous for its elaborate and innovative productions as it is for commanding performances by the world’s most accomplished opera singers. For its excellent acoustics and great sight lines, the Met has been acknowledged as a premier opera house since it opened in 1966. Designed by architect Wallace K. Harrison, the theater’s modern design features a white travertine façade with a series of grand arches.

7Teatro Colon

Teatro Colonflickr/Gobierno de la Ciudad de Bueno

Opened in 1908 with a performance of Verdi’s “Aïda,” the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires was designed by a succession of architects, which may explain the structure’s eclectic style. With nearly 2,500 seats and standing room for 1,000 people, the Teatro Colón stood as the world’s largest opera house until the completion of the Sydney Opera House in 1973. Famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti praised the theater for its perfect acoustics, noting that this attribute doesn’t always bode well for the singer. “If one sings something bad,” he said, “one notices immediately.”

6Teatro di San Carlo

Teatro di San Carloflickr/icathing

The Real Teatro di San Carlo in Naples holds the title as the oldest continuously active opera house in Europe. Built by King Charles of Bourbon, the red-and-gold theater is connected to the Royal Palace. Completed in 1737, the opera house established a standard that subsequent architects would strive to follow. Six tiers of box seating surround the horseshoe-shaped orchestra seats, with an extravagantly decorated royal box jutting out in the rear of the house. A multi-million dollar renovation of the theater was completed in 2010.

5Vienna State Opera

Vienna State Operaflickr/gnu1742

The Vienna State Opera House, more commonly known as the Staatsoper, opened in 1869 with a performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” Designed by architects Eduard van der Nüll and August Sicard von Sicardsburg in the Neo-Renaissance style, the theater was partly destroyed by bombs during World War II and was not completely restored until 1955. The state opera’s musicians are just as prized as the singers; the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic recruits its members from the company’s orchestra. The theater is known both for its many children’s productions and for its affordable standing-room-only tickets that theater-goers snatch up minutes before a performance.

4Teatro Amazonas

Teatro Amazonasflickr/Papa Goiaba

Teatro Amazonas or Amazon Theatre is an opera house located in Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. It was built during the heyday of rubber trade using materials from all over the world, with furniture from Paris, marble from Italy, and steel from England. On the outside of the building, the dome was covered with 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colors of the Brazilian national flag. The first performance was given in 1897, with the Italian opera La Gioconda. The opera house was closed down soon after however as the rubber trade declined and Manaus lost its main source of income. There wasn’t a single performance in Teatro Amazonas for 90 years until 1990 when the Teatro Amazonas reopened its doors.

3La Scala

La Scalaflickr/John Picken

Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, or La Scala as its known the world over, has enjoyed a reputation as a premier opera house since its first performance of “L’Europa Riconosciuta,” by Antonio Salieri, in 1778. Designed in the Neoclassical style by architect Giuseppe Piermarini, the red-and-gold theater is famous for its superb acoustics, which reveal the true abilities of a singer so accurately that a performance at La Scale is viewed as a trial by fire. Even artists of the highest stature have experienced heckling whistles from critics seated in the loggione, the gallery above the theater’s boxed seats.

2Palais Garnier

Palais Garnierflickr/Peter Rivera

The Palais Garnier on the Avenue de l’Opéra in Paris is likely among the best known opera house in the world, partly because the theater was used as the setting for the novel and subsequent musical, “The Phantom of the Opera.” Designed by architect Charles Garnier and completed in 1875, the Beaux-Arts style opera house features a massive seven-ton crystal chandelier in the center of the theatre, highly ornate marble friezes and statues depicting figures from Greek mythology. In 1962, Marc Chagall added frescoes to the ceiling. While prized for its beauty, the theater is notorious for its poor sight lines, and the Paris Opera now uses the newer Place de la Bastille for most of their performances.

1Sydney Opera House

#1 of Opera Housesflickr/Pavel Sigarteu

One of Australia’s famous landmarks, the Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most prestigious performing arts centers. Regarded as a 20th century architectural masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House was designed and built by architect, Jørn Utzon, to reflect the image of a huge sailing ship. Though the name suggests it is used only as an opera house, the project comprises multiple performance venues. Of the many venues housed within the structure, some of the most significant are the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Drama Theatre, the multi-purpose Utzon Room and the Concert Hall, which houses the largest mechanical tracker-action organ in the world. Also part of the Sydney Opera House is the Forecourt, an open-air venue presenting many outdoor performances.

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– See more at: http://www.touropia.com/opera-houses/#sthash.xzf3YL4V.dpuf

14 Best Museums in the World

Last updated on January 21, 2014 in Culture | 8 comments

The urge to collect things of beauty and significance goes deep into history. Museums not only exhibit but also safeguard these art objects for future generations. Today, we feature the best museums in the world. They hold some of the largest and most important art and antiquities collections on the planet.

14Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museumflickr/Psicoloco

Established 1872, the Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest museum in Japan. The museum’s collections focus on ancient Japanese art and Asian art along the Silk Road. There is also a large collection of Greco-Buddhist art.

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13Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseumflickr/sainz

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the largest and most prestigious museum for art and history in the Netherlands. It has a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age including works by Vermeer and Rembrandt. Until 2013, the museum is being completely renovated, but the major masterpieces are still on show.

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12Prado Museum

Prado Museumflickr/ALVARO CARNICERO

One of the top museums in Spain, The Prado Museum in Madrid features some of the best collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century. The best known works on display at the museum are the Majas of Goya (La Maja Vestida and La Maja Desnuda) and Las Meninas by Velázquez. Velázquez not only provided the Prado with his own works, but his keen eye and sensibility was also responsible for bringing much of the museum’s fine collection of Italian masters to Spain.

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11Museo Nacional de Antropologia

Museo Nacional de Antropologiaflickr/Mikey Stephens

The Museo Nacional de Antropología (or National Museum of Anthropology) in Mexico City contains archaeological artifacts from the pre-Columbian heritage of Mexico. Opened in 1964 by, the museum has a number of significant exhibits,such as the giant stone heads of the Olmec civilization and the Sacred Cenote from Chichen Itza. The most famous artifact however is the Stone of the Sun which was actually not used as a calendar but does contain 20 day signs and the 4 era’s of suns that preceded the current 5th sun.

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10National Palace Museum

National Palace Museumwikipedia/Wikipedia

The National Palace Museum in Taipei has the largest collection of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks in the world. The museum was originally established as the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City in 1925, shortly after the expulsion of the last emperor of China. In the final years of the Chinese Civil War the most prized items in the museum’s collection were moved to Taiwan. By the time the items arrived in Taiwan, the communist army had already seized control of the Palace Museum.

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9Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum Bilbaoflickr/lezuck

Designed by Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain is a spectacular twisting titanium-clad modern art museum and perhaps the most celebrated building of the 1990s. The graceful, sensuous curves, evocative of the ships that used to be ubiquitous along the docks of Bilbao, are covered in titanium squares, which resemble the scales of a fish and shimmer in the sunlight. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists.

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8Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Artflickr/eschipul

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world. It arguably contains the best collection of modern masterpieces world-wide including Monet’s Water Lilies, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and van Gogh’s Starry Night. In addition to the artwork, one of the main draws of MoMA is the building itself. A maze of glass walkways permits art viewing from many angles. In 2004 a $425 million face-lift by Yoshio Taniguchi increased the exhibition space of the museum by nearly 50%.

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7Hermitage Museum

Hermitage Museumflickr/archer10 (Dennis)

Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia is a massive museum of art and culture showing the highlights of a collection of over 3 million items spanning the globe. A popular tourist attraction, the Hermitage is truly one of the best museums in the world, with an imposing setting displaying priceless works by Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Michealangelo, Reubens and more. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors.

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6Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Galleryflickr/cfwee

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the world. It is housed in the Palazzo degli Uffizi which was constructed in the 16th century as the offices for the Florentine magistrates. The collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures from classical antiquity are superb. Included is The Birth of Venus by Sandro Boticelli. There are often long lines starting even before the doors open.

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5British Museum

British Museumflickr/KhayaL

Established in 1753, the British Museum in London is a museum of human history and culture. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. Objects include the Rosetta Stone, the key to the deciphering of hieroglyphs, and the largest collection of mummies outside of Egypt. Its one of the top destinations in London.

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4Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Artflickr/A. Strakey

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as The Met, is an art museum located on the eastern edge of Central Park in New York City. This massive gothic-style building, originally opened in 1872 and with numerous expansions added on over time, holds literally hundreds of rooms on its two floors, containing more than two million works of art from across human history and around the world, covering virtually every field of art in existence. In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the Met organizes and hosts large traveling shows throughout the year.

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3Vatican Museums

Vatican Museumsflickr/tripleman

Founded by Pope Julius II in the 6th century, the Vatican Museums inside the Vatican City in Rome are among the best museums in the world. The museums are most famous for the spiral staircase, the Raphael Rooms and the exquisitely decorated Sistine Chapel. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. Today the ceiling, and especially The Last Judgment, are widely believed to be Michelangelo’s crowning achievements in painting.

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2Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museumflickr/tutincommon

Home to at least 120,000 items of ancient Egyptian antiquities, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is one of the world’s best museums. There are two main floors of the museum, the ground floor and the first floor. On the ground floor there is an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in by the ancient Egyptians. On the first floor there are artifacts from the final two dynasties of Ancient Egypt and also many artifacts taken from the Valley of the Kings. Highlights include the objects from the Tomb of Tutankhamen and the Royal Mummy Room containing 27 royal mummies from pharaonic times.

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1Louvre

#1 of Best Museums In The Worldflickr/pmorgan

The Louvre in Paris is one of the world’s largest and most visited art museums in the world. The museum opened in 1793 and is housed in the Louvre Palace, a former royal palace. The famous glass pyramid which in the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace was added in 1989 and serves as the main entrance to the museum. Its exhibits come from such diverse origins as ancient Egypt, classical Greece and Rome, medieval Europe and Napoleonic France. Its most famous exhibit, of course, is Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa, generally to be found surrounded by hordes of camera-flashing tourists.

– See more at: http://www.touropia.com/best-museums-in-the-world/#sthash.vqGAGsvL.dpuf

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