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Theatre on Krasiński Square

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1779 | opening

(detail)1791 | reconstruction of the scene, auditorium and probably the roof

(detail)21.2.1833 | the last performance

(detail)1884 | building was demolished

(detail)1783 | expand the building, increasing the number of lodges

(detail)1808 | reconstruction of auditorium

(detail)1818 | reconstruction of scene and auditorium


(detail)Bonawentura Solari |architect
Architect, Major of the Lithuanian army.

(detail)Franciszek Ryx |Commissioned by
The butler of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, then the owner of the theater building and entrepreneur.

(detail)Ludwik Osiński |theatre director
Critic, theorist, translator and poet. In 1814-1833 he was director of the National Theatre.

(detail)Wojciech Bogusławski |theatre director
Considered the "father" of the national stage, actor, stage director, theatre manager and playwright.More theatres


The cornerstone of the National Theatre, a new public theatre in Warsaw, was laid seven years after the Saxon Opera House had been knocked down, on 11 March 1779 in Komisji Square (nowadays Krasińskich Square) by Duchess Elżbieta Lubomirska. The one-storey building, approximately 50 metres long, 20 metres wide and 15 metres high, was designed by Bonawentura Solari at the commission of theatre entrepreneur Franciszek Ryx. The representative southern elevation, on the side of the square was decorated by a four-column blind portico with a triangle pediment. Behind it there was a drive for the royal carriage. The entrance for other spectators (probably also with a portico) was located in the eastern elevation, in Długa Street. From the north, the Mask Ball Rooms adjoined the theatre. The stage, about eight metres deep, with a five-metre proscenium sticking in front of the stage portal, was initially equipped with four pairs of wings, and later this number was increased. The stage was separated from the auditorium by a wide orchestra pit. The auditorium consisted of stalls (first with standing places, then gradually filled with chairs and benches), three-storey boxes, a gallery and the gods. It could accommodate 1,000 – 1,300 people. The king used to sit near the stage, in the lateral box of the first floor which was glazed (“with windows”). In the 19th century, the middle box of the first floor became the most important one (imperial), with Napoleon and Russian tsars being its guests. [1]

On inauguration day, 7 September 1779, “national actors” performed two plays adapted from French: a comedy Suitor, Author and Servant (Amant, autor i sługa ) by Wojciech Bogusławski and an opera Cooper (Bednarz) by Jean Baudouin. Drama and opera French, German and Italian companies performed alternately with the Polish company.

In the summer of 1791 the theatre was renovated and rebuilt under the guidance of Innocento Maraino. Successive renovation works were conducted in 1808, 1816 and in 1826. During the November Uprising, in 1830 and 1831, the National Theatre attracted crowds of spectators with a patriotic repertoire that had previously been banned by Russian censorship. After the seizure of Warsaw (8 September 1831), the Russians arranged a field hospital in the theatre and seriously damaged it. The last performance in the old theatre took place on 21 February 1833. Shortly afterwards, the building was sold to a commercial company and adapted into wool storerooms and shops.  In 1874, Simon Kahane, a merchant from Mogilev became its owner, and in 1883 the building was knocked down as a victim of the rebuilding of this part of the city. A small fragment still existed up until 1893, and then it shared the fate of the rest of the historical building.[2]

[1] Zbigniew Raszewski, Teatr na placu Krasińskich, Warszawa 1995.

[2] Barbara Król-Kaczorowska, Teatry Warszawy..., op. cit.



  1. Król-Kaczorowska B., Budynek Teatru Narodowego (1779–1833), „Pamiętnik Teatralny” 1958 z. 1.
  2. Król-Kaczorowska B., Teatr Dawnej Polski. Budynki, dekoracje, kostiumy, Warszawa 1971.
  3. Raszewski Z., Teatr na placu Krasińskich, Warszawa 1995.



Author: Jarosław Komorowski

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