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Palace Theatre in Teplice

Johann August Giesel

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1751 | opening

(detail)1789 | opening

(detail)1874 | closure

(detail)1929 | altertion


(detail)Johann August Giesel |main architect

German architect . The disciple of  Friedrich August Krubsacius and Jean-François Chalgrin . He is considered as a representative of French Classicism.

Source: Wikipedia


The city of Teplice became a fashionable spa of considerable importance, which often surpassed Carlsbad in terms of popularity. Not only ordinary spa guest met together here but important personalities of culture or European monarchs as well. The manor of Teplice was the main seat of the family Clary-Aldringen who also took systematically care of cultivation and building development of this cultural and curative centre, especially after a great fire in Teplice in 1793. Today, their Teplice castle has five wings with a courtyard opened up to a castle park. František Václav Clary Aldringen used to have a private theatre for friends and family, in which he himself performed as well. It came into existence in 1751 in the east wing and probably disappeared during the construction of the new one.  


In the middle of the 18th century, a new west wing was added to existing appearance of the castle building. From the incentive of Jan Nepomuk Clary-Aldringen, who owned the manor between 1778 and 1826, a castle theatre was built as a new extension of this wing with a separate entrance between 1787 and 1789 in the style of French Classicism. The construction was built to the designs of Johann August Giesel from Dresden and under supervision of builder  Jan Kurzer. Interior décor was the work of Saxon artists Johann Gottfried Benedikt Theile and  Christian Gottlob Castelli who were also the authors of set pieces. The theatre was opened in June of 1789.


One storey extension of the castle was built in the south section of the west wing of the castle. On the east, the façade faced the park and was articulated by pilasters and eight windows embellished by garlands and protruded from the façade line of the west wing and then constricted in the width of one window axis on its south end. On the west, the façade remained in the line, but it was provided with a projected extension of a square plan in its third. During the remodeling of the castle between 1797 and 1820, the theatre was enlarged by a narrower entrance section in the Empire style at its south end with two adjacent blank window bays to the outer façade protruding on the West and recessing on the East. Its front elevation is oriented to the South and castle park. Its gable is positioned on an entablature with triglyphs, which is supported by Doric capitals of four semi columns. The tympanum of the gable has a figural relief with stucco leafwork and putti holding a lyre and sun – a stylized emblem of music. Statues of Muses Melpomené – tragedy  and Thalia – comedy used to stand on the  sides of the staircase, but they were removed in the 1840s. Three entrances with semicircular arches led to a lobby, from which a hallway led along the west wall and from here, first a narrow vestibule was accessible offering entrances to a staircase and into boxes and auditorium. A second entrance was located in the west façade leading to a staircase to the parterre and gallery.  


The theatre hall had dimensions of 10 x 5,6 m and was 5,5 m high. There was traditional proscenium theatre space in it, having an auditorium with nine rows of benches and an aisle in between in the direction from the stage to the main entrance. The auditorium, formed as a semicircle at the further end from the stage, had an entrance in its main axis, above which a gallery was suspended on a lyre-shaped plan. There were two open boxes separated by partitions in the parterre on the sides lengthwise to the benches and close to the orchestra pit; the one on the right from the stage belonged to the count’s family. The ceiling was embellished by a painting with an Apollo’s head in rays and ornamental imitation of stuccos and a chandelier in the middle. An enclosed orchestra pit was located in the width of the proscenium arch that was  accented by a coffered reveal. Above the stage, there was a fly loft with flylines, for which trusses were reinforced here, on which a system of hollow shafts and ropes was suspended. The stage was equipped with three pairs of flats and a trap room. The theatre hadn’t been significantly remodeled until its end in the 20th century.


The theatre hosted touring theatre companies during the spa season as was for instance Patriotic Society of Czech Theatre and amateur actors outside the season in the winter who used to donate the profit to charity. Members of high nobility and family Clary – Aldrigen often belonged among the amateur actors. The theatre was often opened to spa public. Alfred Javorin stated that entrance fee to the small but well equipped theatre was 3 Guldens for a box, 40 kreutzers for a 1st class seat, 20 kreutzers for a 2nd class and 7 kreutzers for a seat on the gallery. It is possible that there were lockable seats in the auditorium, one of which was possessed by Johan Wolfgang Goethe, such as those that have been preserved in the city theatre in Grein in Austria. Another famous person - Giacomo Casanova – allegedly wrote one of his plays for this theatre.


The theatre was repaired in 1858. The city council in Teplice provided yearly subsidies for theatre operation in the third quarter of the 19th century. As the industrial development of the city grew, so did the number of inhabitants, to whom the small castle theatre ceased to be convenient both in its technical aspect and comfort standards. Aside of that, spa attendance had been continuously increasing. On 25.5. 1871, the city council decided to build a new theatre that would be more appropriate for the increased interest in the theatre. After the municipal theatre was opened in 1874, the old castle theatre served as a venue only sporadically.   


Continuous operation in the theatre existed in the periods 1787 – 1820 and 1843 – 1887 and then occasionally until 1929 when the theatre wing was converted into flats and partially a library. Then in 1931, it caught fire. So only the entrance hall, corridor and hall have been preserved from the original disposition. The original foyer of the theatre served as a ceremonial hall and after that as a jazz club. The castle became a state possession after the Germans were expelled and a museum resides here since 1947. Whereas other castle theatres served to private needs of nobility, this theatre exceeded such narrow functionality and served to the society that met together in the spa. The attention dedicated to its representative exterior corresponded to it as an expression of dignity of this temple of art similarly as it was in the case of the Estates Theatre.



Sources and literature:


POSPÍCHALOVÁ, Dana. První Městské divadlo v Teplicích v letech 1874-1878, aneb, Pýcha města i jeho obyvatel = Das erste Stadttheater in Teplitz in den Jahren 1874-1878, oder, Der Stolz der Stadt und ihrer Bewohner. Vyd. 1. Ústí nad Labem: Univerzita J.E. Purkyně, 2005. 159 s. ISBN 80-7044-717-6.


MICHLOVÁ, Jana. Zámecké divadlo v Teplicích: divadelní cedule ve sbírce knihovny muzea. Teplice: Regionální muzeum v Teplicích, 2008. 100 s. ISBN 978-80-85321-54-8.


Teplitz-Schönauer Anzeiger: Deutsches Tageblatt 1861-1936. Available from:



Státní oblastní archiv Litoměřice, pobočka Děčín, fond Velkostatek Teplice


PORT, Jan. Claryovské knížecí divadlo v Teplickém zámku. Za starou Prahu: věstník klubu Za starou Prahu. Praha: Klub Za starou Prahu, 1929, roč. 13. Str. 30-32


SUCHEVIČ, Sáva. Poznámka k dějinám zámeckého divadla v Teplicích. In:  JIRSÍK, Josef a  Sáva SUCHEVIČ. Ústecké kapitoly vlastivědné. Ústí nad Labem : KNV v Ústí nad Labem, 1955. Knižnice Ústecka ; sv. 8.



Tags: Palace theatre, Empire style


Author: Jan Purkert

Translator: Jan Purkert

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