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Arena Theatre on the Ramparts

Josef Niklas

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1869 | opening

(detail)1876 | closure


(detail)Josef Niklas |main architect

An architect of Czech revival architecture. He was a student of Karl Wiesenfeld at the Prague Polytechnic Institute, then he was  a trainee  by Heinrich J. Frenzel in Prague and Leopold Mayer in Vienna. He made a study tour through Germany, France and Italy. He became an assistant of Bernhard Grueber at the Prague Polytechnic Institute in 1849 and was appointed a teacher of drawing and building at K.K high school in Prague. He applied for habilitation (the qualification for teaching) of practical building teaching at the  Prague Polytechnic Institute and in 1864, he obtained  professorship at the department of civil engineering for Czech language. He took over a department  in the Czech part of Prague Polytechnic Institute that had been established shortly before where he remained until his death (he was a rector here between 1873–74). Together with F. X. Šanda, he published Joendl’s advice on building  (1862) and Architectural styles from the oldest times until present(1865). He is an author of many ecclesiastical Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaissance municipal buildings in Bohemia. Apart of participation in the reconstruction of the Estate Theatre, he realized the wooden New Town Theatre (1858) and Švanda’s Arena Theatre in Pštroska (1869), he participated in competition for a national theatre (1866) and he elaborated the project of the German Theatre in Pilsen.

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The Arena Theatre  on the Ramparts was erected in the year of 1869 in the area of the Chotek public orchards, in the location of the citadel N. 26 above the Horse Gate due to the effort of the Cooperative of the Czech Regional Theatre. The design was again elaborated by Josef Niklas. The wooden arena on a brick foundation wall of  was large and roofless. It constituted a distinct landmark of the Horse Market at that time with its four towers. The architect inserted a horseshoe-shaped auditorium into a rectangular structure with 218 seats in the stalls, 120 seats in 24 boxes, 129 seats in the dress circle and 127 in the upper circle, therefore there were altogether 594 seats and several hundreds of standing rooms as well. It could accommodate about 1200 spectators. The curtain and decoration was created by painter Macourek. This very popular arena was transferred to another location during tearing down the fortification in 1876.



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