An imposing façade with masonic symbolism, magnificent interiors, and a rich cultural programme.

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Grand Theatre

A sumptuous and historic theatre that lives up to its name in every sense.

After a terrible fire destroyed Bordeaux' foremost Italianate theatre in 1775, culture vultures anxiously awaited a replacement. And it was an aristocrat - the then Duke of Richielieu, notorious for womanising, duels, and excesses, who commissioned celebrated architect Victor Louis with the construction of this grandiose new theatre, now home to the National Orchestra. It was supposedly financed by Freemasons, and masonic symbolism is hidden within its architecture - although what most strikes the eye is its neoclassical portico with 12 Corinthian columns and statues from classical mythology. At the theatre's inauguration in 1780, with a performance of Jean Racine's tragedy Athalie, crowds gathered outside to gaze at its façade, outdone in beauty only by its sumptuous salons, luxurious staircases, and chandeliers.

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