When I visited Argentina for the first time in 2009 on a 2-week vacation, one of the major attractions in Buenos Aires was closed for renovations.
After 7 years of detailed restoration, Teatro Colon is now open to the public. The tour is one of the top things to do in Buenos Aires.
The price was a bit much for a 1-hour tour, but I had to see it.
It was worth it.
Not only is the architecture and decoration amazing, the guide did a great job sharing the history of this famous opera house and how it fit into the culture and lifestyle of the Portenos. Yet another example of a great tour guide in Buenos Aires.
He had just enough cheese-ball jokes to make the historical facts entertaining yet not annoying.
Cool Facts about Teatro Colon
Why it was built.
The opera house was built from 1888-1908. At the time, Argentina’s economy was 8th in the world, and they wanted to show their awesomeness (my words, not the guide’s).
How it was built and decorated.
Everything had to be brought over from Europe.
There is a Hall of Busts paying tribute to the greatest opera composers of the time.
There is a room called The Golden Lounge that is 120% French. It is designed to replicate the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. The ceiling adornments are 24k gold. This was the room where the highest classes of society went to see and be seen.
Note: There are certain areas where they do no let you take photos, and these two rooms fall into that category. As much as it killed me to not document every single thing I saw with my camera, I decided to not be “that girl sneaking photos.”
You will just have to trust me… very cool!
What it meant to society.
It was built by Italian immigrants. And those same immigrants also patronized Teatro Colon with the wealthy members of society.
While the opera was available to everyone, the social classes were separated within the building. There were separate entrances, separating seating areas, and separate rooms for mingling (like The Golden Lounge).
How it was renovated.
From 2003-2010, Argentina spent US$100 million, the most the country has ever spent on a restoration project.
People had been smoking in the opera house for 100 years, so a lot of detail work had to be done. Every single room was touched.
Each piece of stained glass was removed and cleaned.
All fabrics had to be replaced with fire-retardant materials. But they had to be careful to not impact the acoustics and tested each piece of fabric.
Teatro Colon has the best acoustics in the entire world.
Our guide told us there was a study/ survey done, and Teatro Colon took the #1 spot. There are no microphones used by the musicians or singers. That is quite impressive.
But he also shared that the brilliant acoustics is mostly luck because there are so many factors that impact the sound.
So that crazy, ginormous thing in the ceiling actually can be lowered.
Musicians can play from inside it. Seriously!!
The view from “the best seat in the house.”
Check it out!
For non-residents, tickets are 60 pesos (US $14). They have multiple tours in English and Spanish every day. You can book online, however, their website is not exactly user-friendly, and I discovered that they do not actually make all tickets available online. I just showed up and bought my ticket. However, if you are visiting during the busy season, try to get them in advance.